Archive for the ‘ Soulful Saturday ’ Category

I’ve been working with this deck on and off for several months now and thought it was about time to write a review. In the interests of transparency I will confess that I consider Ellen a friend however I don’t believe that will impact my impression of this deck.

I was privy to the fact that Ellen was working on a Dark Goddess themed tarot a few years ago. I remember chatting with her about the project and what goddesses might fit the energies of various cards (not that I’m in any way implying I influenced the creation of this deck). I thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to see how Ellen manifested this concept. It was worth the wait.

The deck is a traditional Tarot deck with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into 4 suits – Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The court cards are Amazon, Siren, Witch and Hag. Ellen tapped into goddesses from a wide range of world cultures – Irish, Norse, Aztec, Inuit, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Indian and more. In the companion book (which I highly recommend purchasing if you get this deck), Ellen writes about each individual goddess’ mythos as well as what it might mean if she appears in your reading and some ways to connect with her energies. Ellen’s art is classically simple with a palette that uses bright and neutral colors to create engaging images that are rather unexpected in a deck devoted to dark goddesses. It’s a refreshing break from the moody, gothic-inspired dark decks that are out there.

Dark Goddess Ace of Earth Dark Goddess 4 of AirDark Goddess Siren of Earth

One of the things I find intriguing about this deck is that many of the goddesses included are not traditionally thought of as “dark”. For example Gaia, Nut and Baubo come to mind as goddesses who might not be considered dark. However when one looks at the myths and legends connected to these goddesses it becomes clearer that even the brightest goddess has her dark side. This makes sense when you consider that even the sweetest, kindest humans have their dark sides too.

I’ve been working with this deck for several weeks now as part of a personal journey. Each day that I use it I come to appreciate its energies even more. I’ve always been drawn to dark goddesses, in fact I consider The Morrigan one of my matron deities. This deck has helped me grow more familiar with these dark goddesses as well as introduced me to some with whom I was totally unfamiliar. Would I make changes to this deck? Of course I would if I had created it – then again that’s true of most decks and in no way detracts from Ellen’s accomplishment. She has managed to bring the darkness into the light and allow us to explore and connect with its energies in ways that are not frightening or threatening. She has helped introduce these powerful, awesome goddesses to an audience that might never have learned about them otherwise and can now work with their energies to heal, grow and explore their own internal darkness as well as help guide others. If you have any interest at all in working with goddess energies then I strongly recommend adding this deck to your collection.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you desperately need the companionship and support of friends but can’t bring yourself to ask or even tell them that you’re in a bad place? This is one pattern of behavior I’ve honed to an art form. Rather than admit how I feel, I joke. It’s so much easier to make light of things than admit how dark they’ve gotten.

This is a pattern I developed in childhood. I was the oldest child of four born to two 16 year old parents. To say that the folks in our neighborhood were waiting with clucking tongues to see what failures we’d turn out to be would be an understatement. We often needed help – to pay rent, to cover school expenses, to replace clothes and other items lost in a fire. As a result I developed a deep aversion to seeking help because when I needed it in the past, there was a price to pay.

I can clearly remember receiving donations after my family had a serious fire. The nuns who ran my elementary school and the local church had taken up a collection. Rather than let my family determine what we needed, one of the nuns took me and my sister clothes shopping. It was a disaster. She refused to accept that I did not fit into girls’ sized clothing. As a result I ended up with a wardrobe of pants that split the first time I sat down in them. When I tried to explain things to the nun her response was that I should be grateful for the opportunity to get new clothes at all.

I remember when my maternal grandmother died and my mother asked her uncle (her mother’s brother) for a loan to cover the costs of opening the grave site. He refused and Mom borrowed the money from her boss. However her uncle proceeded to tell the rest of the family that he loaned her the money and she never paid him back.

I remember attending events for my father’s side of the family and realizing that we were the poor relations. There were always subtle little comments and attitudes that I sensed. Ways in which we were made to feel inferior. My father’s two sisters both had lovely homes in the suburbs with cars and other “white picket fence” accoutrements. We were often invited to their homes for a weekend but when we invited the cousins to visit us there was a subtle air of horror on my aunts’ expressions as thought we’d suggested some type of ritual sacrifice. The implication was that somehow where we lived and how we lived was beneath their children.

As a result of these experiences, as well as a possible genetic predisposition towards stubbornness and hard-headedness (what my mother likes to call “thickness”), asking for help was not high on our list of family skills. Unfortunately this is not something I’ve felt a need to change. Any “favor” that makes me feel looked down upon tends to raise my hackles.

Why am I bringing all this up? Because I have to assume I’m not the only person suffering from this malady. I seem to have a reduced 6 of Pentacles energy. I don’t mind giving but I hate receiving. I’m starting to realize that being able to ask for help and support is actually a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows that I’m confident enough in who I am to understand accepting aid is a powerful sign of self-confidence. It shows that I can accept assistance because doing so doesn’t make me inferior or weak. It makes me practical with a well-developed, healthy ego. Right now I can’t say that but it’s definitely a work in progress.

I have to admit I have a bit of an addiction – to collecting cookbooks. I find that reading cookbooks can sometimes take me away from the stress and aggravations that surround me. I really enjoy community cookbooks because they offer insights into how people in different parts of the country cook and entertain.

There are also certain patterns I’ve noticed. Older cookbooks tend to be a bit more regional. I’ve noticed that since the 1990s many community cookbooks are a bit more generic and less regional. You’re as likely to find recipes for Asian dishes in a Texas community cookbook as you are to find barbecue recipes. The late 1960s-1980s offered community cookbooks filled with “dump & pour” recipes relying on convenience foods.

Some community cookbooks are filled with information about the community such as sites of interest or historical tidbits. Others offer blurbs by the recipe’s contributor that give some info about where or how it originated. Some of the recipes are very down-home style whiles others are more sophisticated or gourmet.

One of my favorite collections is called America’s Best Recipes. This collection was published annually by Oxmoor House from 1988-2003. It collected what the editors considered the best recipes from various community cookbooks submitted for consideration. McIlhenny Tabasco also sponsored annual awards from 1990 to 2009 for the best community cookbooks from each region and the top three nationwide. They also had a Hall of Fame where the best selling community cookbooks of all time are memorialized (this list includes such classics as Savannah Style, Charleston Receipts and Pirate’s Pantry).

Reading these community cookbooks gives me a sense of connection to the people who created these recipes. Across time and space I can make their recipes and keep their memory alive. It makes me feel like a bit of a food historian. This is important to me because the women in my family were not very domesticated (I may have mentioned this before). We don’t have family recipes that were handed down. My ancestress’ primary mode of feeding the family was very plain, inexpensive and filling and tended to involved some type of convenience food. We might not have gone hungry but no one was clamoring for those recipes.

Food is a spiritual medium for connecting with our family, our past and those who have gone before. It’s interesting and enlightening to learn why certain dishes developed the way they did or why certain foods were popular in specific regions. In recent years America is losing some of its regional diversity. In some ways this is very good but when it comes to food I think it means some of each region’s unique foodways might be lost. So read a community cookbook today and connect with the past; keep those memories alive in spirit and honor their contributions.

For some reason today’s entry was difficult to write. The well was dry and I couldn’t come up with anything I thought was worth sharing or that I felt competent to write. Finally, as I was browsing the NYPL website I hit upon something – libraries!

I love libraries. From the time I was a child they were my haven, my sanctuary against the world. I’ve had a library card as long as I can remember. I still recall the day my mother brought me to the local library and signed me up for a card. It was restricted (I could only take out 2 books at a time and only from the children’s section) but it was a start. One of my favorite books to take out was The Little Witch Cookbook. I adored the illustrations and the recipes were very simple for a child to make. I actually reacquired a copy as an adult but it just wasn’t the same and I passed it along to my youngest niece who seemed very thrilled to get it.

I also enjoyed losing myself in Bulfinch’s Mythology. This began a lifelong fascination and attraction for mythology. I started here and eventually found my way to more adult versions of Greek mythology as well as Celtic, Arthurian, Norse and Egyptian mythology. I was so excited the day I was able to take a book from the adult section of the library – it was Mythology by Edith Hamilton and I still remember the cover.

The first time I was allowed to walk to the bigger library near me (the now gown and much mourned Donnell Branch of the NYPL), I felt so proud I almost burst. I still remember how overwhelmed I felt when I walked in because it was much bigger than my local branch. It also had a Young Adult section. Oh the books I read from that library. I could spend hours simply walking through the stacks and losing myself in the books. It was wondrous and amazing to me.

During high school and college I managed to wend my way through the maze of research materials – magazines and non-circulating books, that allowed me to complete term papers, book reports and other school assignments. Computers were not yet the omnipresent devices they have become so I learned how to work the card files. I felt such a sense of accomplishment learning to find books and make inter-library loan requests.

These days I still visit the local library – sometimes to take out books, other times for movies or music. My primary use of the library is for electronic books – it’s so much easier to request and return books that way. However I’ll always feel a sense of soul-satisfaction and deep emotional connection to the physical library. I will always love losing myself in the stacks of books and finding lost treasures I would never have known about without browsing. It saddens me that so many local NYPL branches are nothing more than computer kiosks now. So many of the books are gone, the space freed up for more computers. The people using the library don’t seem to have the same sense of awe and wonder I did. They also don’t enforce the quiet rule much these days. That sacred hush that I remember when I entered the library, that reminded me I was in a special spiritual temple, has been replaced by laughter and chatting. I suppose it’s wonderful that libraries still fill a niche in their communities but I miss the slightly more formal, quieter days.

I hope we never lose our libraries. It’s sad to see so many bookstores going out of business and libraries downsizing. There is something magical about these places; these repositories of fabulous mysteries and hidden treasures. Hail to libraries and librarians! Long may they rule!

Wildwood 7 of Arrows

It’s such a gorgeous day outside that I changed my focus a bit.  Instead of focusing on the Shadow I decided to look at soulwork issues.

Looking at the image on this card and its keyword (insecurity), what strikes me is the arrows piercing the woman’s body.  Are these the arrows of self-doubt?  Of inner demons and critics?  Despite the arrows embedded in her body, the woman’s expression seems melodramatic.  It’s almost as though she isn’t truly wounded but is acting as though she’s wounded.

That made me wonder about the nature of insecurity – at least in my case.  There are times when I claim to be insecure or self-effacing about something but in reality I’m just fishing for praise.  Have you ever found yourself doing that – seeking reassurance and reaffirmation that you are good at something (or at least not as bad as you fear)?  That’s the message I’m getting from this card today.  Her pose is so contrived and her expression so overly dramatic that I want to say “just get over yourself!”  And there are many times when I want to say that to myself too.

In relation to this question, I think she is telling me that I need to stop letting myself get held back by self-doubts and insecurities.  They can only hold me back if I allow them to do so.  They can only hurt me if I make them reality.  They are phantasms; illusory weapons that can only wound if I give them the power.

I often see this card as representing the reclaiming of one’s own power.  That can certainly apply here.  By not allowing the slings and arrows of self-doubts, negative opinions and inner critics to wound me and hold me back, I am reclaiming my power.  I am standing up and saying I can achieve anything as long as I believe in myself.  What a great message for such a beautiful day.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: