Friday, February 24, 2012

D is for Death Tarot Card

The poor Death tarot card often gets a bad reputation from TV and movies. It's the card that gets turned over and gasp!-- cue scary music and all manner of horrible incidents suddenly occurring. But it is most often a very helpful card to see in a tarot reading and, dare I say it, is often a beautiful card.

Some keywords and phrases for the Death card include: transformation, transition, rebirth, renewal, revitalization, profound change, leaving the past behind, end of era, end of one cycle and beginning of another, new way of life, death of one's old self, change of one's status.

Okay, so perhaps it is a bit of an intimidating card in the Rider-Waite deck. This death card shows that Death stops for no one, be it King, clergy or peasant. The conspicuous amount of water indicates that this transition may be fraught with emotion. And yet the sun is rising on a new day... there is hope in this death and rebirth.

Robin Wood's Death card is less forbidding. Yes, the main figure is a Grim Reaper, but it is dressed in red, the color of blood and birth. Or rebirth? The birch trees in the background are trees associated with rebirth; butterflies represent transformation. This could mean the ultimate transformation-- death; or it could be the end of one cycle in life and the beginning of a new one. Not so scary.

The Death card in the Druid Craft deck has a much different approach than many decks. This card shows a wise crone (with a serpent of transformation and wisdom in the background) standing in front of her cauldron. Whether or not this is the Crone Goddess Cerridwen with her cauldron Awen, the symbolism is the same; the cauldron represents the womb and is associated with rebirth and wisdom. Through the window behind the crone the sun is just rising-- or setting; either way a new day (cycle) is beginning or an old one is ending.

This final Death card is from the Pearls of Wisdom tarot, the deck I use when I read for others; it is chock-full of symbolism. The figure is stepping from a dying world into a new world, leaving old masks, old selves, behind. Note the serpents again, those wise creatures who periodically shed their old, unneeded skins and continue life. Butterflies, creatures who emerge completely transformed after a period of dormancy, are represented as well. The rune Othala represents the Land of Birth and the rune Kenaz (beacon or torch) is associated with the fire of transformation. This tarot deck has one of the most intricate, explicit, beautiful and uplifting Death cards I've seen.

So remember when seeing the Death card in a reading that death comes in all manner of varieties and is an opportunity for transformation and renewal of your life, not necessarily then end of it.

(This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Week I Am

Feeling: On an emotional rollercoaster, especially today.

The low-- My surgical wound from December re-opened over the weekend, which means something is still wrong. I have been so distressed, dismayed, discouraged, don't even know the right word for it, since it happened. I see the surgeon next week and we'll determine where to go from here.

The high-- I found out today I've been promoted at work! I am totally jazzed about it! It was a complete surprise, as I didn't think I met all the qualifications for the position. Evidently, I do! I will be a Quality Assurance Coordinator (or, as we fondly call them at work, the QuACk) for 2 projects for summer session, which means I'll be in charge of training and supervising a team of 50-70 people.

Thinking: In regards to my promotion-- I actually think I feel confident about it, which is so opposite from how I usually react to things. When I was promoted last time I was full of fear and doubting myself. This time, I think I've been given a good match and I'm hoping I'll be very good at what I need to do. In regards to my health-- I'm worrying about whether or not its going to interfere with my promotion and I really don't that to happen.

Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. Saw the (U.S. version) movie a couple of weeks ago and wanted to read the book. So far, it seems the movie was pretty faithful to the novel, with one real change. Waiting to see if it means a major or minor difference to the plot.

Watching: Over the weekend the Mister and I were total nerds and watched the ENTIRE 6th season of Dexter. It was very good as always, but despite the big shocker at the very end, I have to say I was disappointed with that final scene. I think the writers have backed themselves into a corner and if they resolve it the way I think they're going to next season, I'm just not going to buy it, because I don't think it will be true to the characters.

Planning: Starting to put together my work schedule; short, low-key project the rest of this week. Have to add the 2 new projects I'm QACing for onto my calendar. Crunch time at work begins in another month or so. I've also been taking lots of photos and editing them, then putting together rough drafts of listings for new items for my Etsy shop, need to keep working on those as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

C is for Celtic Tree Calendar Conundrum

Do the Celtic Tree Calendar dates matter or not? That is the question.

My journal page for the Beth-Luis-Fearn Calendar

I've been working on studying the Celtic Trees and their ogham symbols since Samhain and am really enjoying it. But my biggest source of confusion lies around the tree calendar dates and whether using dates is really a valid practice.

The book I am working through, The Healing Power of Trees: Spiritual Journeys Through the Celtic Tree Calendar by Sharlyn Hidalgo uses the lesser known Beth-Luis-Fearn dates for the tree calendar, which start at Samhain and goes full moon to full moon. Her reasoning for doing so is that astrologically, it matches more of the associations related to each tree to start at this time of year, with this order of trees.

Most often, however, the Beth-Luis-Nion calendar, which starts on December 24th and goes from new moon to new moon, is used. My understanding is that these calendar dates were devised by Robert Graves and made widely known through his book The White Goddess.

HOWEVER, according to Stephen Blamires in Celtic Tree Mysteries (as well as other Celtic scholars), the dates don't matter-- the Celts did not associate the trees with certain months or zodiac signs at all. There is absolutely no scholarly evidence to prove that the Celts followed a lunar tree calendar.

So as I've been working with the trees, I've found myself in a bit of a quandry as to how I want to approach my studying. Do I ignore the months/dates and just learn about the trees, their associations and their ogham letters? Do I decide on a calendar and just work with it, whether its valid or not? If I ignore dates completely, what information associated with each particular tree is still valid and what becomes invalid?

My mind is boggled and I am unsure how I want to proceed... And does it even matter as long as I keep going? How would you approach further studies?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Journal Pages

I've been working on some journal pages, but it seems everything is still half done. Here is one that IS complete, though.

Below is a page for my Celtic Tree studies that is almost complete. I want to put my name in ogham on the green leaf the way it would look without the alphabetic letters next to the ogham.

And a page that I've gotten prepped for writing about my 2o12 tarot card, The Fool.

What's your journal looking like these days?

Friday, February 3, 2012

C is for Crochet-- Everyday Knot Magic

Crochet-- a form of magical knotwork craft? I think it can be. Since I am all about expressing myself through creative work, its only natural that I relate something as common as crocheting to my pagan path.

Crochet can be a project that celebrates the sabbats, like with these doilies I made; an egg for the Spring Equinox...

... and a holly design for the Winter Solstice. I have collected many, many doily books and patterns over the years and have found something for almost every sabbat; sunflowers for Summer Solstice, wheat and corn designs for Lughnasadh, apples for Mabon, pumpkins for Samhain... Now to become industrious enough to sit down and make them all!

From decorative to more practical crochet magic-- amulet bags. Simple little amulet bags can be made to wear as necklaces and filled with affirmations, herbs, stones, etc. as a constant reminder and piece of empowerment for the Craft work one is doing.

I've also created amulet bags worn only for specific occasions, like the one above, created for my power animal. I chose colors, as well as the design, houndstooth stitch, that relate specifically to my animal. I have it filled with sage and items related to my animal and I wear it only during shamanic journeying.

When I discovered beaded crochet, it added a new dimension to the style of items I could make, like this beaded rune bag.

And don't forget the mundane! I made this Dr. Who scarf for my husband one year and crocheted it with magical intent, thinking loving thoughts like, "may he always be warm whenever he wears this scarf," "may he feel my love whenever he wears this scarf," and the like. Magical intent can be crocheted into hats, mittens, socks, baby blankets, sweaters and more this way.

I find that treating crochet as a form of magical work is a wonderful way to bring my Craft into what could be considered a mundane activity. And that's really what its all about, isn't it? Making magic everyday?

(This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project)