I’m not shattered, I’m a mosaic

While pursuing my MA in forensic psychology, I read a textbook entitled The Shattered Self. It was offered case studies of people suffering from PTSD, which the authors argued should be considered a dissociative disorder, not an anxiety disorder (I may be oversimplifying this, it’s been a long time since I read the book). As I read the book I had very mixed feelings; very personal feelings. I could to be objective about the material covered in the book. In fact it made me a little angry. As I read the cast studies many of them resonated with me on a deep level; their experiences often mirrored my own. What made me angry was the concept that these people were somehow damaged because they had found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. Why did the fact that they had shattered make them defective? To me, they were strong, brave, resilient people who managed to endure what many could not. Yeah, okay, there might have been some projecting going on there.

In retrospect I realize that the reason these folks had become case studies in this book is because eventually their coping mechanism felt apart and they re-shattered. They were suffering and trying to hold it together as best they could but failing. So, in theory, counseling or therapy would be beneficial. Of course because I am a stubborn bitch, I resisted even the idea that being shattered was harming me. I felt like a piece of safety glass – sure I was shattered but I was still holding it together. I hadn’t lost any pieces.

As I gain more experience and wisdom, I realize that I have also made myself into a mosaic. I replaced some of the shattered pieces with new ones that are brilliantly colored and uniquely shaped. I wear these new tiles with pride because they’re proof that I have the strength to endure and the will to keep moving forward. I don’t think I’m so special (or at least no more or less special than anyone else) because clearly the case studies in The Shattered Self prove that others have the same resilience that I do. At the same time, I am proud of the fact that I am resilient and even if I’m shattered I don’t fall to pieces on the floor.

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

 

The Book says: Transformation; bringing matters to resolution; releasing or forgiving; freedom to act with full power or resources; a new lease of life; recovery of essential focus.
Reversed: Denial of imminent change; inability to admit faults or allow changes; procrastination; reproach for wasted opportunities; stubborn self-justification; little chance of cure; failure to focus.

TarotHunter’s Theories: Traditionally the Gundestrup Cauldron is connected to transformation and rebirth. Legends connect the Gundestrup Cauldron with reviving warriors killed in battle. But when they come back they are mute; unable to describe this experience to anyone. One of the panels on the Cauldron shows a large figure, possibly a deity, shoving warriors into the Cauldron. They emerge beneath the Cauldron, alive but changed. The three spirits and the elder sprig are connected with healing and renewal. These images suggest that sometimes we need to be forced into making changes but they will ultimately prove healing and transformative. The experience will allow us to release the burdens of the past and move forward into a future that remains unwritten.

Celtic Wisdom Protector

Celtic Wisdom Protector

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The Book says: The Protector shows Belenus on the right and Dis Pater on the left, with the chalk-hill figure of Epona, making a strong protector triad upon the hillside leading to the Otherworldly Plain of Delight. Belenus (The Shining One) gave his name to the festival of Beltane, or the “fires of Bel”, when May and the bright half of the year is celebrated. Dis Pater was the Father of the Ancestors, the one who welcomes the dead to the summerlands. The White Horse of Uffington in England shows the dynamic, liberating presence of Epona, who opens the door to the summerlands. An introduced tree, the Apple became immediately widespread and has an important place in folklore.
Keywords: Wholeness, happiness, attainment, success, simple joy and pleasures, devotion, fortunate meetings, gratitude for life, marriage, good health, openness, sincerity, safety after peril, contented circumstances.
Reversed: Hollowness, unhappiness, broken engagements or relationships, intolerance of shadows, such as inability to accept death, political correctness taken to extremes, no change to enjoy life, lack of fulfillment, maintaining the status quo.
Soul-Wisdom: Who are you in your true self?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Looking at this card I sense its sizzling energy. The Sun is radiant and bursting with life, apples frame the solar face, swirling spirals appear in two spots and the white horse seems to be preparing to charge off the card. It zips and zings with radiance and energy. The figures on the card represent three different Celtic deities – Belenus, Dis Pater and Epona. I found this interesting because this card is composed predominantly of male imagery but the word for Sun in Gaelic is feminine. However there is no evidence that the Celts actually had a specifically solar deity. They had many deities whose names meant shining or light but they were not solar deities per se. Epona is considered a horse goddess and, like many Celtic goddesses associated with horses, may also be connected with sovereignty and solar energies (Rhiannon, Macha, etc.) but is not a Sun goddess. Epona also has the honor of being the only Celtic deity worshipped in Rome in her own right, without being merged with a Roman god first. She had her place in the sun.

Looking at this card, I see a supplicant honoring Epona beneath the rays of a benevolent sun. The supplicant is thanking his gods for all that is positive in his life and the blessings brought to his family. He understands the cycle of life and realizes that with the good comes the bad and that change is part of the natural order but he appreciates when things are going well for him and wishes to acknowledge and thank the gods. This card offers a sense of contentment and pleasure, being on a green hillside beneath the rays of the sun. It suggests the blessings of the gods upon the supplicant and upon the land and by extension upon us all. It reminds us to celebrate and embrace our moments in the sun, our time in the spotlight, because it will inevitably change some day.

Death – Blue Rose Tarot

Blue Rose Death

 

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: In the Blue Rose Tarot, the symbolism of the Death card mirrors the continuing, unfolding journey of the Fool. In the foreground stands the very gateway, here represented by a human skull. It is the Threshold leading from one existence into another. The skull is flanked by two roses – one red and one white. They symbolize the dual aspects of the Fool. The red rose symbolizes human existence in the material, physical world. The white rose symbolizes the spiritual being. Within the empty sockets of the skull are two dice. Snake eyes. When playing dice, rolling snake eyes means finality — the game is over. And for the Fool, this particular stage of the Game is over. But look further past the forbidding gateway, for in the distance, we see the Fool, symbolized by the lavender butterfly winging his way across the dark terrain, following the beaming rays of light leading him onward towards a horizon that we cannot interpret or see beyond. What is beyond that mercurial sky? That sky filled with light, electricity, color and movement? It is not for us to know. We will find out when the time comes. When it is our turn to follow the rays of light and continue our own Great Journey.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card reminds us that sometimes we need to stare what we fear the most in the face and learn to see beyond it. The crystal skull, with its burning red eyes, represents our fragility and a state of being that we ultimately cannot avoid. As the saying goes “nothing in life is certain except death and taxes”. Well ladies and gentlemen, this is death; this is what we are when we are stripped of our flesh, our hair, our personalities. Stripped to the bone we all become amazingly similar, all those external factors that allow us to create barriers in life are gone and we are all truly equal now.

Even as we face this image of our greatest fears we see the beauty and wonder in life too. The two roses, the butterfly and even the color of the sky and clouds overhead are wondrous and beautiful. And the crystal skull has a pink tinge to it, a reminder that once we pass the skull, once we open that door and pass through this fearsome gateway, we will find a new beauty. It represents the potential and transformative energies that await us. Those black cliffs might look fearsome and overwhelming, but once we cross them we will find ourselves embraced by the beautiful sky above. We too can be like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon. We can spread our wings and enchant those around us with our grace, beauty and joy. But we can only experience this transformation is we dare to open that door.

Death – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Death

 

Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Book says: Transformation and spiritual evolution. The stripping away of outgrown feelings or beliefs. The end of the old and the birth of a new cycle. The need to surrender to the inevitability of change. An ending that is illusory when viewed from a higher perspective. The natural conclusion of a stagnated relationship or familiar situation that stifled individual growth and change.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: In this card Death is portrayed as having not only a recognizably human face, but a heart too. This Death is not an unapproachable figure, but one who seems to offer welcome and solace. Yes, she wields a scythe which can separate us from the physical world. At the same time her love and compassion allow us to move closer to the spiritual. A snake winds around her legs and she stands on a rattlesnake skin, reminding us of the snake’s ability to shed it’s old skin and grow a new one. The is the blessing this Death offers us. She allows us to shed our worldly skin and grow in spirit. She guides us along the way, refusing to abandon us while we are at this delicate and defenseless stage in our growth.

This is the Goddess as Crone, she who destroys and releases so that the new growth has room to shoot through. She may be surrounded by skeletons and death but she is not forbidding or unapproachable. We can see her love for us and understand that she is helping to release us from the bonds of the past so that we can move into the future unburdened and ready to learn and grow more. Death may still seem frightening because it is so unknown, but at least with this Death card we won’t be walking towards it alone.

Mansions of the Moon Azazel, Angel of Death

 

Mansions of the Moon Tarot
ZADOK (dahogue@nctc.net)
Self-Published

The LWP says: Traditional meaning – pale horse of revelation, Biblical imagery.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card shows a fairly dark, somewhat gloomy image of death. The skulls, black candles and horse’s head all give it the appearance of some type of dark mass or dark ceremony. The hooded figure, with it’s small gray head is ominous and eerie. The wings may be the wings of an angel or may be a cape of feathers. Either way this figure does not inspire hope and faith but rather fear and awe.

Maybe because it is so full of Biblical imagery, I don’t find much comfort or relief in this vision of Death. It reminds me of smoky, incense filled churches with voices intoning hymns for the dead. It brings to mind warnings of damnation and the need to ask for forgiveness and repent before it is too late. Once the bowl is broken it can no longer be fixed – once you have died you cannot make amends for your faults.

This card is about transformation, releasing and letting go. But it also visually and symbolically shows the fearful aspects of death – the pale horse upon which Death rides, the skulls, etc. But when we are finally able to peer into the cowl and face death head on – we see the humanity hidden there. And suddenly maybe, just maybe, Azrael, the Angel of Death is not quite so fearful and terrifying anymore.

The Liberator – Celtic Wisdom Tarot

Celtic Wisdom The Liberator

 

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The Book says: Change, transformation, renewal of blockages, clearing the way for liberating change, letting go of old habits, regeneration, change of consciousness.
Reversed: Fear of change, stagnation, illness, impasse, stuck in old habits, clinging to outworn ideas, enforced removal.
Soul-Wisdom: The Liberator of Devotion releases the Soul to unconditional love and liberation if we can humbly face and befriend death. What do you need to let go of?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Something about this image reminds me about the lady on the Land O’ Lakes box. She holds a Land O’ Lakes box bearing her image, which holds a Land O’ Lakes box bearing her image, etc. Only in this image we see the Sheila na Gig, symbol of rebirth and regeneration, bearing the image of the Cailleach Beare, symbol of release and clearing away. And within the Cailleach is the seed of the Sheila, bringing new birth, new hopes and change into our lives.

The Sheila seems so welcoming, as though she understands our weariness and our need for change. She offsets the cold and somewhat forbidding image of Cailleach Beare. The Cailleach’s fearsome visage may be frightening and unwelcoming but if we can face the changes she brings and accept her gift, we may find ourselves transformed and liberated in unexpected ways.

There are always two sides to any tale – light has darkness, spring has winter and death has life. Accepting this and working with it, instead of trying to go against the tide, can be liberating and allow us to release what no longer serves us and move on to a new phase in our lives.

Death – Wheel of Change Tarot

Wheel of Change Death

 

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
ISBN #0-89281-609-0

The Book says: When this card is part of a reading reflect first on the skeleton, or framework of the issues you are dealing with. Try to see the elemental nature of your situation by stripping away the outer layers of the problem or situation. Get at the bones of the matter. When you have done this, you may recognize parts of the situation that can be pared away or given up in order to facilitate growth. These things will symbolically die, thereby fertilizing the soil of the present situation so that new circumstances can arise. When you complete one thing you are given room to try something new. This is a card of endings, completions, letting go. All these things imply a loss, but the loss may be of something old that you are finished with anyway and that you just need to cut out of your life pattern. When this card arises, you may be experiencing the fear of losing something that you don’t want to give up or something comfortable that you are afraid to do without. The Death card implies a big change, with the result that you must give up life in the way that you know it. Every moment of our lives is a moment of death, as we give up the past to step into eh present. This is the manifestation of the spiral path of life, on which we walk into and out of death in every moment.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card adds a beauty and majesty to death that is sometimes missing from other decks. Death, draped in its white cloth, almost seems to be dancing and celebrating that passing of this woman’s soul. Death knows the secret – just as the sun is setting on the day (or this woman’s life), tomorrow it will rise again. Everything about this image is beautiful; there is nothing fearful or frightening. Even the vultures take on an otherworldly beauty. The skeleton’s wrap spirals around its body and the way the edge floats in the air behind it gives the impression of something floating free, being raised higher and soaring to the skies. Death’s scythe may have descended and ended someone’s life on this plane. But it has also freed that person to cross over onto another plane. There is beauty in the darkness as well as in the light. There is a beauty to the cycle of death and rebirth. I think we may dread death because we don’t really trust that there is anything beyond it. But this card offers us hope. There is something beyond Death. It is merely a crossing, a passing, a transformation from one phase of existence to another. Maybe on the other side of that river is paradise, an Otherworldly garden of delight and joy. Or maybe it is a transformation to a different type of life. I remember reading a romance novel once where the heroine has a car accident and awakens in the South before the Civil War. She eventually realizes that she is can’t return to her own time and she no longer wishes too. And in the last chapter it returns to modern times and her sister, who is remembering the heroine and the car accident that killer her. To me this was an intriguing idea and this card brings it back. Death is the guide, the guardian and the catalyst. It forces us to face and deal with issues we might prefer to avoid. But if we never make those changes and cross that river, then perhaps that is when we are truly “dead” in the way that we fear.

Wheel of Fortune – Blue Rose Tarot

Blue Rose Wheel of Fortune

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: Notice first, the spinning of the two wheels. The horizontal wheel, symbolized by the carnival merry-go-round, represents a concept discussed earlier; that of “being in a rut”, always ending up where one had begun. Never accomplishing anything. See how the horses speed along, their figures blurred with the flurry of motion. Poles deeply driven into their backs, these horses are controlled by the Wheel. They do not understand the workings of the Wheel and so they are mindlessly driven by it. The vertical wheel, symbolized by the Ferris wheel, symbolizes life’s “ups and downs”. No sooner do we feel on top of the world, than we are down in the depths once again. The vertical wheel also represents that feeling of vertigo and lurching of the stomach that can accompany the rapid ascents and descents. The clues to riding the Wheel are represented in the last two images. First, notice the acrobat, balancing carefully upon one hand in the center of the merry-go-round. Her body is a picture of constant and careful balance. Acrobats spend years learning their craft. They constantly stretch their bodies, maintaining flexibility, all the while performing tiny, almost imperceptible adjustments in order to maintain their balance. This is to say nothing of the intense conditioning of an acrobat’s inner state of being. In order to achieve perfect balance, one must achieve total harmony of mind, spirit and body. As with anything, the more one practices a craft, the more perfected it becomes. But it always requires serious work and the utmost application of years of skill. The final clue lies in the final image; that of the lovely face of the acrobat. Notice how it looms over the Wheels. This image symbolizes the inner spirit. The light of the Hermit turned outward, placing the Wheel and its purpose into its proper perspective. In this tiny acrobat, we see the perfect blending of inner spirit working actively with the material body. Both work in concert. Body and spirit. And by bringing his own dual nature into harmony, a Fool can begin to make his way slowly and carefully from the outer perimeter to the very center of it all. And ride the Wheel.
TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card is a reminder that the gods have a sense of humor and sometimes set things up so that our view of life gets turned upside down. Sometimes we need to hit the bottom before we can appreciate the view from the top. But it also suggests that there are moments when we feel so dizzy and spun around that we’re not sure what direction we’re going. We may not realize that we are spinning our wheels in place – just digging a deeper rut but not moving anywhere. I think many of us have experienced this in our lives. We think we are moving but we are really spinning in a circle. There is movement but no progress. But there is an overall divine guidance to it all. The acrobat is us – balancing carefully on one hand, trying to avoid falling over. But it’s also a reminder that we can’t do this forever. No one has perfect balance forever. We must eventually tire and lose it. No one was meant to stay on top forever. Professional athletes can only be at the top of their game for so long before their bodies can’t handle it anymore. Celebrities come and go, sometimes returning to the top only to slip back into obscurity once again. And what was once seen as the pinnacle is often overshadowed by new developments – we see this all the time with technology. What is top of the line in computers is quickly supplanted by the new “hottest thing”. It is easy to get caught up in these frenzy if we are not able to take a step back and realize that the minute we give in, something changes and we are once again kicked from the top spot. And the serene, slightly, amused woman watching over it all reminds me of Kwan Yin, Chinese goddess of compassion. I get the feeling that if we lose our balance or find the spinning is making us sick, she will catch us and gently lower us to the ground. And of course this song brings to mind that Byrds classic “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on a passage from Ecclesiastes. How true it is that “to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season. . . and a time for every purpose under heaven”. In today’s world it is so easy to lose sight of that. But the Wheel brings us back to our center and allows us to remember not to get so caught up in the spinning and twirling that we lose sight of the purpose behind it – the genuine need for things to change and allow the cycle to continue.

Mansions of the Moon Wheel of Fortune

Mansions of the Moon Wheel of Fortune

Mansions of the Moon Tarot
ZADOK (dahogue@nctc.net)
Self-Published

The Author says: Daily living affecting our bodies.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This image is somewhat chaotic and confusing. At first my eye didn’t know where to focus. But once my eye was able to discern the different images it became a bit easier. The card reminds me of the need to center ourselves and not lose our focus – no matter how busy and crazy life becomes. There is so much going on around this figure that it would be easy for him to lose his center, but he seems to be resisting the temptation. The message of this Wheel of Fortune seems to be that we can accept that things change and life’s cycles continue with or without our consent. We can’t stop the progression of time and change. But what we can do is not allow it to become the focus of our existence. We can ride out the cycles and maintain our equilibrium. It may not be easy but it can be accomplished. It is about centering ourselves and focusing inward, not losing ourselves in the chaos that spins around us. Something about this card reminds me of a line from the song Across the Universe by George Harrison “nothing’s gonna change my world”. If we can accept that the nature of life is change and that we will experience cycles of ups and downs, then we can achieve this state. Because while the external factors in our lives may change – where we live, our jobs, relationships, we don’t have to change who we are inside.

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