Lammas Musings and Tarot Spread

It’s harvest time! Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating Lammas, or Lughnasadh, on August 1 or 2, depending on your preference.

Lammas is a holiday that tends to get overlooked a lot of the time, although it is one of my favorites. Like its sister holiday, Candlemas (or Imbolc), on the opposite side of the wheel, it is the beginning of a major seasonal transition. While August is often one of the hottest months here in Oregon (in fact, we are supposed to be over 100 all this week, possibly even up to 113, setting a record for the hottest temperature ever recorded here), the gradual shift to autumn is apparent in the shortening days and the autumnal slant of the light as we move toward September.

This is also a time of abundant harvest. In my area melons, peaches, blackberries, cucumbers, corn and tomatoes are ripening quickly, and I’m enjoying fresh local fruits and veggies with every meal. I am, however, a little worried about what this week’s excessive heat might do to the harvest, and will be keeping my little tomato plants well-watered this week. Thank Goddess that we had a wet winter with a lot of snow in the mountains, so we still have plenty of water available for irrigation for our farmers right now.

In our personal lives, this is a good time to take stock of our year so far and see where we are. What have we harvested so far this year? What can we be grateful for? And what might need to be sacrificed in order to keep ourselves on track towards our goals and dreams?

Sacrifice can be a scary word, and it can come with a lot of baggage in a culture that often tells women that they should sacrifice their own health, dreams, time, and comfort for the sake of others. But Lammas is the season of sacrifice, when plants are harvested and die to feed us and other animals, continuing the circle of life.

Sadly, it is true that we can’t have it all. To make positive changes in our lives, we will have to sacrifice something to make room for it, whether that is a limiting belief, a way of interacting with others, an attitude, an activity that we may enjoy, or perhaps one that we simply use to procrastinate. I’ve been learning this lesson lately as I work to limit the time I spend watching Netflix so that I have time to read, paint, journal, and do other activities that really fill me up instead of just zoning out in front of the TV (I still get to do that occasionally though—balance!). I can’t watch a lot of TV and read lots of books and create lots of art, there just isn’t enough time in the day. I had to decide which of these things I was willing to sacrifice. But giving up our habits is never easy or comfortable.

This Lammas tarot spread explores these themes of harvest and sacrifice as we move through this transitional season toward Autumn Equinox.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Lammas until Autumn Equinox)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is my most important harvest at this time?
  5. What might I need to sacrifice in order to ensure a full harvest?
  6. What action(s) can I take to share my abundance with others?

It has not been the easiest year, and I am feeling that, too. If you feel like you haven’t harvested anything, that none of your hopes and dreams for the year seem to be manifesting, try not to give in to a sense of despair. The cards you draw will show you that something is being harvested right now. It may not be something huge, it may be simply that you have made a small change, like drinking more water, that is benefiting your health. Or perhaps you’ve taken up journaling again, and as a result are starting to listen to your inner voice.

I feel like the Wheel of the Year often gets associated with working on big, lofty goals and dreams, and that is wonderful, but that isn’t appropriate for all of us at all times. Some of us may be making small, but important, changes to improve our lives. Celebrate those little harvests, too. I got just as excited about the first tiny tomato that ripened on my plants as I will about the large tomatoes that I will soon be harvesting. In fact, when they all start ripening at once it can actually get a little overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do with them all! So celebrate your small victories and your tiny tomato harvests, because they matter, too.

Also, if you are looking for something delicious to make to celebrate Lammas, I made this Cheese, Herb & Garlic Quick Bread last year, and it was so delicious. I highly recommend it!

Blessed Lammas to you all!

A Summer Solstice Tarot Spread

Cards pictured are from Monstarot Tarot Deck, the Gaian Tarot, and Tarot of the Crone. Goddess figures from Brigid’s Grove, and the sun prayer beads are available in my Etsy shop.

Summer Solstice kind of sneaked up on me this year—I can hardly believe it is tomorrow! This year the Solstice falls on different dates, though, depending on your timezone, so for some of you it will be on the 21st.

It is definitely starting to feel like summer here. The high today is supposed to be near 100. At the Grower’s Market this weekend cherries and blueberries were available, as well as lots of lettuces and greens, and a few early cucumbers. My absolute favorite part of summer is enjoying the succession of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. The tomato plants I am growing  are full of flowers and green tomatoes. They’ll enjoy this heat we’re having, even if I don’t!

At this peak of the sun’s energy, we celebrate creativity and the fruit it bears. We celebrate the creative, fertile power of the earth that feeds us, and our own creative energy that brings joy to ourselves and others.

As the sun grows stronger, my thoughts have also been turning to questions about power—how we access it, how we use it, how we fail to claim it, or give it away to others. I am writing here of our own personal power, the power to direct and make choices in our own lives, not “power-over,” i.e. trying to control others, that is the more common association with power in our culture.

This spread for the Summer Solstice looks at these themes of creativity and power, helping us to call on the energy of the sun, even as it begins to wane again, to help us access our own inner power and to light our creative fires.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Summer Solstice until Lammas)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What will fuel my creative fire during this time?
  5. In what area of my life do I most need to claim my own power?
  6. What action(s) can I take to stand firm in my own power and live according to my own values?

I’d love to hear how your reading goes. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the spread.

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice and a blessed summer season!

A Tarot Spread for Beltane

Beltane (May 1) is almost upon us, and the lush, vibrant energy of deep spring is in the air here in southwestern Oregon. I have been especially captivated by the dogwoods this year, both the lovely white and pink ornamentals growing in yards, as well as our native Pacific Dogwoods that stand out on wooded hillsides, their flowers glowing white in a sea of fresh green leaves.

Almost all of our trees have leaves on them now, although some are still small, fresh, and tender. With all the rain we have had, the grasses are thick and lush, painting the mountains a vibrant green.

Yesterday, I saw a Starling feeding its young, and it won’t be long before there are juvenile Black-Capped Chickadees, Lesser Goldfinches, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Downy Woodpeckers begging for food from their harried parents at my feeders.

Every time I go for a drive it seems that the hillsides are covered in a new variety of flowers. This week the hills were covered in a blanket of pink Rosy Plectritis flowers, with a scrubby, gray-green species of Ceanothus covered in white blossoms among them.

A hill covered in Rosy Plectritis and Ceanothus.

Rosy Plectritis, up close.

May Day (or Beltane) is a time of riotous beauty as flowers bloom all around us. It is lusty, lush, and abundant. However, few things are producing seeds and fruits at this time, the energy is instead the energy of potential, and it still requires nurturing to ensure a full harvest. Right now, we simply celebrate the return of life, the return of fertility, and the potential of future fruitfulness and harvests to come.

I have created this tarot spread for Beltane to honor the energy of this season, and to help us find vibrancy and a zest for life in our own lives.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Beltane until Summer Solstice)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What do I need to nurture in my life during this time?
  5. What should I move away from that keeps me from celebrating and enjoying my life?
  6. What should I move towards to more fully participate in the simple joys and pleasures of life?

I’d love to hear how your reading goes.

May you have a blessed Beltane!

A Tarot Spread for Spring Equinox

Tomorrow, March 20th, the wheel turns again to spring. Some of you may be feeling the fullness of spring already, while I know others are still snowed in. Here we can’t seem to shake endless gray, rainy days, but the flowers are blooming, the bright green grass is springing up, and tree buds are beginning to open.

I have been dealing with lower back spasms for almost a week now, and today I also seem to be coming down with a cold. I don’t get sick or injured very often, so to be both at the same time is a bit mystifying, and also seriously annoying! I had one day this week where I felt better and was able to get out for a visit to the river and a brief walk, but apparently I overdid it, because my back has been painful again ever since. Not being able to get outside or to exercise is making me crazy!

I haven’t gotten to do any of the spring cleaning I had planned to do, or the spring life detox I had been planning. I wish I could say I’ve been using all this downtime wisely by reading great books and meditating a lot, but I’m afraid I’ve mostly been lying on the couch with a heating pad or an ice pack, watching Netflix, and feeling sorry for myself. In my defense, I have tried to read, but it is hard to focus when you are in pain. I have definitely gained greater empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain through this ordeal.

So, I don’t know how much celebrating I’m going to get to do for the Equinox tomorrow, but I will at least do a simple ritual and my tarot reading for the next turn of the wheel. Here is the spread that I will be using:

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is beginning to bloom in my life?
  5. How can I best support the growth of my projects/ideas/visions?
  6. How can I honor the Maiden within me? What does She most need from me?

If you did the Winter Solstice and Candlemas spreads, you might want to refer back to the cards you drew for the questions “What dream or vision am I nurturing in the dark?” and “What seed is beginning to send out roots within me?”. How do those cards relate to the cards you have drawn for questions 4 and 5 of this spread? Are you seeing the movement of a dream, project, or vision from the dreaming phase during the dark of deep winter, to the blooming phase now in spring? Also, in our culture it is easy to relate dreams and projects to work, or to the way we make a living. Remember that we have dreams and projects in all areas of our lives—relationships, health, spirituality, creativity, our homes, etc., so you don’t have to limit your interpretation only to work issues.

Well, that’s about all the sitting upright my back can handle for now. I think I’ll be doing some Reiki and crystal healing for my back and the impending cold today. Maybe I can head off the cold!

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring Equinox!

Candlemas Musings and a Tarot Spread

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My Candlemas altar. The image of Brigid is from Joanna Powell Colbert, which she graciously gave to us to color and use on our altars in a Candlemas class I took from her several years ago. My parents brought me the silver Brigid’s cross pendant from Ireland last year.

I have to admit, life has been challenging lately. I imagine many of you are feeling the same way. I feel like I’m being bombarded by horrible news on a daily basis, but I can’t seem to look away. I’m trying to balance staying informed with staying sane, but it isn’t easy. Things feel heavy and overwhelming, but there are also hopeful moments like the Women’s March, and the way people are being activated to get involved.

I’ve been doing what I can to cope with it all. I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, walking or just sitting in the sun (when we are lucky enough to have some!).

I’ve been starting most of my mornings at my altar, followed by half an hour or so of yoga (I have been enjoying the Revolution series by Yoga with Adriene). That gets my day off to a good start, as long as I manage NOT to check Facebook or the news afterwards while I eat breakfast.

I’ve been reading a lot of women’s spirituality books. I just finished When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone, which I found at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago. Why had I not read this book before? It is so good.

I’ve been watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix when I need a mindless break from it all. I’m not usually much of a sitcom/comedy person, but I like the characters and it always makes me laugh.

I have been struggling to get myself to make art, although I know it would help.

And so it goes, one day at a time.

Now, Candlemas is almost upon us, and it is one of my favorite holy days. The days are noticeably longer now. Here bulbs are sprouting, buds are ever-so-slightly swelling, and hazelnut catkins are opening, releasing their pollen to fertilize their tiny magenta flowers, the first flowers of the year. There is a sense of hope in the air. Spring is on its way, life and growth are returning to the world. Even for those of you who are still deep in winter, the increasing light promises that the snow will melt and spring will arrive.

I love the themes of Candlemas: cleansing and purification, illumination and inspiration, rebirth, initiation and dedication, creativity.

This is the time of year to asks ourselves what needs cleansed in our lives. Do we want to do a thorough spring cleaning between now and the Spring Equinox? Or maybe just clean out a certain part of our homes—a closet that really needs attention, our kitchen cupboards, our clothes, or our bookcases. Do we want to cleanse an activity like checking the news or Facebook (I’m looking at myself here!), cut sugar out of our diet, or commit to drinking a detox tea each day?

It is also a time for initiations and dedications. Are we ready to commit ourselves to a course of spiritual study, to working with a particular Goddess for the year, to reading a certain number of spiritual books, or to practicing regular prayer or devotions? What part of our spiritual path or practice is calling us to deeper commitment and devotion?

As the light grows, as new life begins to emerge all around us, what do we feel inspired to do? Is it time to get to work on an idea for a project or creative practice that has been simmering deep inside during the winter months? I know it is definitely time for me to get myself back to my art table, if only to play in my art journal and enjoy myself. Because this time of year is also the time of the Maiden, who is young, light, free, playful and full of life. Let’s shake off some of the winter darkness and have some fun!

Here is a tarot spread you can use on Candlemas to answer some of these questions and find your own inspiration for the next turn of the wheel:

tarotlayout

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What seed is beginning to send out roots within me? (This could be an idea for a project, a dream, a new beginning.)
  5. Where in my life can I be more playful and creative?
  6. How can I more fully devote myself to my spiritual path?

Candlemas blessings to you! May you find a spark of light to guide you when things seem dark. May we all be blessed with hope and love as life returns to the earth. Blessed be.

More Snow and Some Recommended Reading

Lady Winter has been putting on quite the show for us the past few days! Yesterday most of the snow had melted, and the forecast predicted snow showers turning to rain during the night. The Snow Goddess had other ideas, though, and the snow started again during the early evening but it never turned to rain. Instead, we woke up to a glorious, snow-covered dawn.

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snow2

snow3

We don’t get a lot of snow around here, so it is always exciting. I was really hoping for a snow day or two and I have certainly gotten my wish!

I also wanted to share these two posts by Beth Owl’s Daughter regarding 2017 and its associated tarot card, The Wheel of Fortune. First, Beth discusses what we might expect during a Wheel of Fortune year, then she created a brilliant spread using The Wheel of Fortune as her theme to do a reading for 2017. She writes such beautiful, wise, and insightful posts, I love reading her blog. Her tarot reading for 2017 is full of wisdom and hope, and I hope you’ll find her posts as helpful as I did.

Bright blessings!

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 is going well for everyone so far! It has been a slow start to the year here. We have had snow for the past couple of days (yay!!!), which has meant that most of my time has been spent inside working on various projects or just sitting and watching the snow fall. I could honestly watch the snow for hours, it is so beautiful and serene.

snowfence

A snowy fence

snowberries

Snow-covered berries

On New Year’s Day I did my tarot reading for 2017 using Joanna Powell Colbert’s Tarot Spread for the New Year. I have been using this spread for several years, and I really love it. I was especially excited to get two of my favorite tarot cards, The Priestess and Nine of Earth, in my reading for 2017. It is interesting that this reading echos the themes I have gotten from both my Hallowmas and Winter Solstice readings: getting to work and taking practical action. The High Priestess and Four of Fire also remind me to maintain my spiritual practices and connection to Goddess, listen to my intuition, and make sure the action I am taking is grounded in what is most important to me.

2017reading

My 2017 New Year reading

On New Year’s Day I also finished a little Great Blue Heron watercolor that I created for my altar. I really like the heron, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the background—it feels too busy and I wish I had made it more plain. I may try again at some point, but for now it is on my altar and it does make me smile to see it.

heronwc

Great Blue Heron watercolor

When I was in the Portland area I lived along a wetlands where herons nested every year, and they became an important sign for me. I often see herons when I need encouragement and a reminder that Goddess is with me. Last week I was down by the river feeling out-of-sorts and I saw two herons lift off from among a group of egrets and fly down the river. I rarely ever see more than one at a time—they lifted my heart and spirits as they lifted their massive wings to take flight.

I often find January to be a challenging month. I have made all these goals and plans for the New Year, but my energy and mood can take a deep dive during the dark days of January and I find it hard to get started on everything I have planned. Then I start beating myself up and worrying that I’m running out of time and that just makes things worse.

Last year in January I ended up re-reading all the Harry Potter books for the eighth (ninth? tenth?) time. I basically spent the entire month reading and not doing much else! I’m trying to find a bit more balance this year, understanding that this is a low-energy time of year for me and accepting that, while not completely giving up on doing anything productive. We’ll see how it goes! At least after years of observing The Wheel of the Year I know that come Candlemas, I will start to feel more energetic and ready to get to work.

I also wanted to share a couple of resources that might help get your year off to a good start:

  • I started this Writing the Goddess class a couple of days ago and am really enjoying it. This might be a good resource if one of your goals for 2017 is to get to know a particular goddess better. I am working with Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin as I work through this class.
  • The Hidden Brain podcast from NPR is one of my favorite podcasts, and this week’s episode, “Getting Unstuck,” was especially helpful for me today. I recommend it if you are trying to figure out what to do with your life in 2017!

I’m not sure what this year will hold as our government makes a dramatic shift this month, but I pray for peace and justice in our country, and for all of us to find the courage to create lives of meaning for ourselves. Blessed be!