Friday, January 10, 2020

The Four of Swords
From The Tarot of Transformation: Willow Arlenea & Jasmine Lee Cori
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

Four is a number of formation and stability; four seasons, four major directions, four corners of a basic building foundation, and four suits of the Minor Arcana in Tarot. The Swords of Tarot represent many aspects including the mind, insight, speech, thoughts, and in discovering personal and cosmic truth. 

The mind is a powerful tool, our brains magnificent, our thoughts capable of brilliant creativity. The mind can also harbor psychotic fears, get mired in non-intentional patterns of negativity, and generally run on auto pilot driving us through life with no discernment or imagination. In the above image we see a woman standing in what appears to be a whirling and indistinguishable flow of energy. From it she rises and pulls into focus a beautiful mandala of form and color. Holding it brings a focal point of vision which now supports her in what was chaos. She has created mental structure which now gives her a portal of opportunity. From this perspective she can direct her thoughts to align and stabilize, not only to form, but to beauty.

The mandala is reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. Looking through its lens and turning it the viewer sees endless possibilities form from the colored glass inside as it reflects the light using mirrors. Like this delightful instrument, the mind, also an incredible instrument, has endless possibilities of thought to create patterns that form the structure of how we think, view the world, discern and decide.  As conscious beings, we strive for clarity of thought and to align our thoughts with our heart - with love. This powerful alignment leads us to right speech, right action, and the ability to listen not only to others but to our own inner guidance. 

The Fours of the Tarot are ruled by the Emperor who knows that even the strongest structures built with good intention must be open to change to prevent them from becoming confining and restrictive. Right forms are in service to right thought and right action and allows for negotiation rather than control. So it is with our minds. The Four of Swords reminds us to be open to negotiation, of a continual learning, re-evaluation, and new discernment of what it true. 

In the ongoing process of personal growth and mastery we have unlimited opportunities and challenges that temper our minds, emotions, will, health, and prosperity. Chaos and confusion, clarity and purpose, bliss and despair are all part of the dance of life. Sometimes it can feel like we are spinning out of control and sometimes the rhythm is just perfect as we flow with synchronicity and joy. Learning to master the art of negotiating our thoughts helps us negotiate in the outer world and move through it more balanced and empowered for ourselves and in being in truthful service where we can. 

The Bible tells us that the Word of God created the entire universe. We must remember that our thoughts and speech create the form of our own world. I am reminded of a verse from a song by the Sons of Champlin - I cut this out of a Rolling Stone magazine in maybe 1969 and carried it in my wallet for decades:

“The forms which we create caress our minds
And they’ll take us past this place which lives by time
And the forms we are creating today
Are the forms which we will be someday
And the good games are the flowers of our minds
I love you”

May the flowers of your mind bloom and bless you.

....Kathryn Ravenwood 1-10-2020

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Emperor Card from Tarot of the Spirit by Pamela Eaton
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

Mention the Emperor card of the Tarot and we immediately think of the Number 4, of form, structure, power and the male/father force. We think of Aires, the Ram, the first sign of the zodiac and its famous ME FIRST attitude. We think rules, discipline, and firm foundations. The Emperor is all these things which offer visions of of power and form for our lives for both the year ahead and the start of a new decade.

The Hebrew letter that corresponds with the Emperor is Heh or window. In the image above we see the Emperor sitting on his cubit throne within a window. He is looking out of the window even as he IS the window. Windows bring in light which the Emperor understands to be both the creative solar energy and the light of knowledge, of vision. Watching through a window suggests vigilance, observation, clarity, and surveying the landscape. Air/breath/life force also comes in through the window. Clear sight is a gift of the Emperor. He knows how to receive the power of the Cosmic fire, seeing the vision it imparts and, using universal laws, builds his empire of form which he then governs to hold his people in positive form.

The image is full of geometric shapes - triangles, the cube, the cross. They represent both physical and sacred geometry. The cube is the form of basic foundation and represents the manifested universe. The cross is a symbol of the intersection of the the manifest (mundane) and un-manifest (cosmic) realms - or heaven on earth. The Emperor’s head and shoulders form a triangle, his legs crossed forming a 4, or a T-Square; both are basic tools used in measurement, planning, surveying, and building. These tools provide the Emperor, the architect, the means to organize and build structures to bring his vision into manifested form by the application of natural laws.

In many versions of the Emperor card we see him on his throne looking over his shoulder - looking back at the Empress. It is her creative force that fills the Emperor’s world with beauty and abundance that would otherwise be sterile. He creates the forms to hold her creations and so honors, protects, and is in service to her. As the Empress is always creating something new the Emperor’s world is always changing. He must recognize what is old, even dead, that no longer serves the empire. He then has to plan again, rebuild, and reorganize new material into physical form. He must be dynamic to manage all the changes and maintain an on-going order or the once useful forms become limiting, restricting, and will eventually crack and fall into the rubble.

Each of us is the Emperor, the Window, allowing Light to shine through. We use our vision and consciousness as agents of creation, building our world. We order our experiences with deductive reasoning and application of rules and boundaries. The Emperor is known as the “Constituting Intelligence;” we must frame our individual constitutions even as we must conform to the laws of nature, which will always make themselves known - especially when errors in judgment drop us into chaotic experiences. We want freedom to explore and create but we also want what we create to support and sustain us. “Freedom is the choice of one’s discipline” (anon). The trick - or should I say plan - is to learn to make our decisions with the window open - letting in light, getting a clear view, and then using the power of self control and discipline to bring our vision - our decision - into form. Boundaries are not just about “staying in our lane” they are rules which allow us to practice right action to govern our lives in the greatest of cosmic laws - service and love.

We need to be the Emperor, not just to get our To Do lists done, but to empower our divine nature to express and bring forth the Light. No wonder the Emperor appears so formidable! This is a huge task and is one we are all here to master. The Emperor shows us how to do it - how to apply the power of cosmic law to establish order which then provides the perfect container for our creativity to thrive and expand. We are each a mini cosmos of the Universe; each an Empress and Emperor, creating and bringing into form that which we see with inward sight. Never doubt your identity as an architect of the divine.

Open up your window - receive the light - receive the breath of life - use your powers to be the Grand Architect of your life and to expand the cosmos in your creation.

…..Kathryn Ravenwood 12/31/2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Tarot de St. Croix - by Lisa de St. Croix
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

How are you flowing with your feelings lately? Our feelings, our emotions, are very much like water. They can surge like a wild river forcing us to hang on for dear life to the rickety raft we call our sanity or gently bob along the sparkling surface, calmly and peacefully, on a lovely inner tube experience. They can cascade us over the edge like a roaring waterfall, get backed up like a stagnant pond, go deep underground and then resurface as an erupting geyser or gently bubble up as sweet, artesian springs. They are always in motion and ever changing.

In the Tarot the cards of the Knight of each suit represents us moving more into the mastery of the qualities of that suit.  In Cups it is all about our emotions, feelings, love for others and love for ourselves. This can be a dreamy state, a journey through the dark and troubled waters, or a heart-guided passage of spiritual awareness.  Whatever it is, it will change. You can count on that. The Knight has not yet achieved mastery but is definitely on a journey far and wide to discover it. There will be many detours, mistakes, and triumphs along the way as the search continues.

I love this Knight of Cups card. Our gallant knight is kneeling before an incoming flow of water pouring out of a cup that emerges from a dreamy looking and undefined background of the world beyond him.  He is kneeling, indicating to me that he is both honoring his emotions and also perhaps a little knocked down by them. He is allowing that which is flowing to him - not fighting or arguing or classifying. From this state of receiving the flow, he is accepting the next wave of mastery. We so often just do not honor our emotions. We tend to discount them, make a full-blown production out of them, blame them or project them on someone else, or drown them in a variety of addictions to numb out any trace of them. We can easily do this to others as well: “Gosh, aren’t you over that relationship yet?  Just let it go!?” or, “Gee, there is no need to get so emotional about this!” or “Wow – it’s no big deal - stop being such a drama queen!”  We are fully aware of how these kinds of heartless comments hurt us - even if we are aware people say them to avoid engaging in their own feelings – but why then do we continue to do it to ourselves?

We are not meant to suppress our feelings, to discount, avoid or even master them. We are meant to – well – FEEL them. They can be our greatest teacher, our higher awareness calling out to us to pay attention and notice what is important, to understand life is not all about being rational, linear, or provable.  We feel what we feel. And we know what we come to know.

Ultimately, we learn that all the images represented in the Tarot are an aspect of our own selves. We are the Knight. We are the vessel. We are the flow. The Knight of Cups is often referred to as The Grail Knight who is on a quest to find the Holy Grail. The watery realm of our emotions takes a life-time of navigation and is indeed a sacred quest. We come to learn that the Holy Grail has been within us all the time. We just needed to find it and have the courage to drink from it to be transcended by it.
Today I encourage you to drink deeply from the cup, the vessel of your emotions. Take them in, swirly them around as if tasting wine to savor its subtle or robust nature. If you need a good cry then put on a sad movie and go for it.  If you need to tell someone you love them, don’t wait any longer – let them know. Is your anger at yourself or someone else? Try seeking forgiveness in either case.  Lonely? Happy? Feeling antsy or bored? Follow the clues and seek the source of your feelings.  Maybe they don’t even belong to you!

Whatever course the Knight of Cups leads you through, know you are indeed the Holy Grail – a being of eternal love and light just feeling your way as you flow through the emotional realm of mastery.

…..Kathryn Ravenwood  12/4/2019

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Four of Wands, Robin Wood Deck
Celebrate New Beginnings
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

The Four of Wands is often referred to as “the wedding” card. I had not been to a wedding in a long time and now I get one a month for three months! I always find it an amazing time when two people decide to stand up together in front of witnesses and say, “yes” to one another.  It is one of those turning points in life. Two individuals step out of their single lives, join hands, exchange promises, receive blessings, and go forward, still individuals, but now married – joined – wed to one another and their common life and their shared love. Then there is kissing and applause, and generally a joyful celebration. 

However, this card is not just about getting married.  Fours are about creating foundation, stability, establishing and getting grounded.  Wands are our fiery spirits, our will power, and applying that will into action. Where is your will power going these days? Are you in a consensual relationship with anyone or anything? With yourself? Have you stood up lately to say, “yes” to new ventures or new partnerships? Have you recognized a turning point in your life that would love a ritual to celebrate its passage or witnesses to cheer you on? Have you made a declaration of love to anyone or yourself lately? When was the last time you celebrated your own creations?

None of us are ever really alone. We all have an amazing variety of marriages and partnerships we enter into during our walk through life. Even if we part ways later on down the road, we have all stepped up, said “yes” and gone forward in a commitment and agreement with someone else or with an aspect of ourselves. There is a great sense of recognition, desire, passion, and love that calls us to make these marriages. We reach a point where going on alone is not an option and taking on a partner or a new aspect of ourselves, even though results are totally unknown, is a far better choice than the solo act or staying singly focused.

Creativity spurs us forward and then needs a form to hold it.  This is what the Four of Wands gives us – a celebratory container to hold our creative ventures.

I invite you to consummate a new relationship. Say yes. Get committed. Let the road open up before you and start out in joyful celebration. Whether with a person or your art, your writing, your creativity, or the renewal of your will towards what matters to you…  step up, take a stand, get excited, and dance down the path that opens for you.

…Kathryn Ravenwood  11-5-19

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Eight of Wands – Swiftness
Photographer Unknown
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

In the Tarot the card of the Eight of Wands means swiftness – like the “bolt out of the blue” or the sudden appearance of some action or event.  Wands are the suit of fire, of will power.  I have always loved the card and when I saw this photo it brought in an even higher meaning for me.

We have all heard of some rock band who was “an overnight sensation” only to learn they had been struggling for ten years, waiting for that big break. We all can think of a time when we suddenly experienced everything coming together in just the right way to move us forward along our path, to give us that recognition, opportunity, or burst of energy at just the right time.  We like to think of it as synchronicity, divine intervention, or just great luck. That is all true but there is more to it.

We live in a limitless universe of abundance, of all possibilities, of the past, present and future all existing simultaneously. We experience various energy “downloads” depending on our level of awareness, our participation with the life energies, and how we interact with this living, expanding universe of cosmic fire.

The above photograph is a slow motion capture of meteors shooting through the sky.  It shows us that all that juicy, massive energy of “everything is possible” is always – always – there.  We live in it.  We constantly interact with it.  We ARE it!! But how often are we really paying attention to it? We get used to living in “slow motion” and shut out or dilute the unlimited into something we “can handle.”  We learn to live as if asleep only to awaken when we collide with one of those big blasts of energy and are forced to pay attention.

The streaks of light in the photo also remind me of the Hebrew letter Yod…this is a special letter as it is believed all the other letters are formed from it.  It is considered the starting point of all things, and so holds the “spark of Spirit” in everything. And here we have a whole sky full of Yods delivering all unlimited sparks of Spirit and beginnings!  Can you feel the fiery excitement?

What wondrous possibilities are you surrounded with that you might be missing? Can you feel the rain of Cosmic Fire igniting the very air around you? Can you feel it light up your heart and explode within you? 

This is no time for an umbrella!

….Kathryn Ravenwood 10-18-19

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Ten of Wands 
From the Tarot of Trees by Dana O’Driscoll
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.  We have focused so long and diligently on whatever it is we want to accomplish, whether it is our career, the “to do” list, or following a routine of goals that we lose sight of the changed conditions all the focus and work has brought about. We wonder why we feel stuck, why things are not moving forward anymore or why we seem to be met with resistance rather than success. What was rewarding and challenging has become hard, and now feels like a burden. We start saying things like, “I can’t” or “why is this so hard?” or “things will never get done.” We are on overwhelm, burned-out.
It is not that we are no longer accomplishing what we want; it is more that we have achieved so much that it is now time to let go of some of the older ways we don’t need anymore. The above picture shows a little seedling sprouting up from the forest floor trying to get to the light, struggling to make a place for itself through the forest canopy. Will it find room to grow or will it become stunted and held back by the massive growth above it?
Our very fast paced way of living encourages - no expects - us to achieve in a measurable way. Many of us work hard just to “make ends meet” or are so engrained in survival mode that we don’t take a breath long enough to evaluate just why we are working so hard. The burdens we carry might have been with us so long we don’t remember why we took them on in the first place. The burdens become our identity. We define ourselves by them.
Our accomplishments are more than the businesses we launched and made successful, the books we wrote and published, or the people we pleased along the way.  Releasing burdens also includes things like recognizing and changing a destructive habit into productive, positive action. It is seeing that we have some kind of prejudice and change our mind and heart set. A huge burden to let go of is finding a way to forgive the hurts and resentments we carry with us and go on. What if we could clear away the need to be validated by others and instead recognize and  deeply cherish our own self? 
What are you hauling around with you that is wearing you out? Is your mindset so deeply rutted in a certain routine that you are missing new opportunities? What new sprout of creativity or opportunity is being held back by the burdens of your heart, your mind, your actions? Maybe it is time to clear out some dead wood - to trim back the overgrowth. Not only to make space for new growth but to just give yourself a break and let in a little more light. Take a leap of faith. Lay  down some burdens - even one. Remember to rest and check in with your higher wisdom to help you discern the value of what you carry - the talents and the baggage! Keep what is good and send the rest off to cosmic recycling. Welcome the new adventures, embrace change. Growth is good - even when in might seem easier to stay in the darkness. Rise up to the light. 

…Kathryn Ravenwood  8/16/19

Friday, August 2, 2019

               Nurse Logs in the Hoh Rain Forest, The Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

The Ten of Pentacles, Emily Lubanko

This beautiful image of nurse logs in the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State has layers on layers of meanings and inspiration. I love the Hoh. Some very old and large members of the Standing People - the Trees live there. Visiting them is like stepping back in time away from cities and people. It is a sacred place and offers great sanctuary to those who are fortunate enough to visit.

Nurse logs are easily found at the Hoh and in other forests left to function on their own time. They offer a unique perspective on life. At the end of its magnificent time standing between the Earth and Sky, for whatever reason, be it old age, disease, wind fall or some other damage, a tree falls and lies on the forest floor. It is not dead. Life continues to thrive for a very long time. Insects live in its bark, animals burrow under and in it for a home, mushrooms, ferns, and lichens are all happy to move in to this available habitat. Tiny seedlings of the forest trees land on its back by being dropped by other trees. They piggy back on the strength of this great fallen being. Nourished by the wealth of nutrients in the fallen tree, protected by the tall trees around them, they take root and grow. Trees get water from their roots. As the baby trees are too short to reach the ground they can access water collected in the crevices of the bark provided by the drippings of the large trees around them who collect the rains and fogs and filter them down to the forest below. Gradually, they grow stronger and bigger, always attached to their nurse log, their home. Some of these baby trees get very large indeed, their roots entwined around the nurse log and even each other, forming an inseparable bond while the nurse log continues to support them. After a long time, the nurse log might decay enough to leave visible spaces where the now very large tree’s roots, firmly anchored in the ground, are still holding the space of the fallen tree.

Trees carry recordings - memories - of their surroundings in their tree rings like a library of information. They record growth patterns, when fire threatened their existence, wet or dry years, and whatever memory the water they absorb carried with it. We don’t even know what else is locked in those precious rings of memory. All this is all held within their bodies, even after they have “died” and fallen. I wonder if the baby trees on the nurse logs receive those memories from their fallen host even as they begin to record their own rings of information. We know the root system of the forest is connected. We know the Standing People communicate as one giant organism. Why not share their memories as well?

I like to think of our ancestors as the nurse logs. We are dependent on them for our home, nourishment, and safety. We carry their memories in our shared stories and culture. As we grow we continue to express not just our own individuality but traits from the ancestors as well. Even after they are gone, there is still a space within us that holds their memory. The human family is like the forest family; we are all interconnected in the great Web of Life. There really is no separation. Not every tree in the forest reproduces itself but they all interconnect to make the forest and support each other. Family, friends, neighbors. We are all one.

Perhaps this is a good time to honor the “nurse logs” of your life and give thanks for all the shared memories. And, be sure to share your precious memories with others. We each hold a unique story that is meant to be told.
...Kathryn Ravenwood 8.2.19