Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tarot Spread: Body Mind Spirit (2)

In the third reading, I asked what direction my business should take. I was a vendor selling my wares at various festivals. Since I could no longer do this, I asked what to do next. The cards that were dealt were the Nine of Pentacles, Ten of Wands and Knight of Cups. The Nine of Pentacles (body) indicated I could succeed in doing my business from home. Then Ten of Wands (mind) said for me to lay down my burden because my brain needed to heal. Meanwhile the Knight of Cups (spirit) indicated I would go on a quest and eventually find my way.

At this point, I asked what quest. The Eight of Pentacles and The Moon (XVII) were my answer. The Eight of Pentacles, in the Thoth Deck, is the Lord of Prudence. Then, The Moon (XVII) said to pay attention to my dreams.

In the fourth reading, I again asked for more details about my impending quest. The Ten of Wands, Knight of Swords, and Queen of Pentacles appeared. Building on the last reading, the Ten of Pentacles (body) basically said stop what you are doing. It is not your path to take. The Knight of Swords (mind) charged forward exclaiming “Let go! Ride the wind with me!” Then, the Queen of Pentacles (spirit) reassured me all will be well.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tarot: Body Mind Spirit Spread (1)

Using the “Body-Mind-Spirit” Spread, I did four readings. (Because one reading left me with more questions, I drew two more cards after that reading for more illumination.) My overview of this spread is that it is a story in three chapters. The positions were further highlighted when the same cards appeared in two of the readings in different places.

In the first spread, I asked how I should deal with my brain injury. Because of it, I have problems of perception. The cards that were dealt were The Chariot (VII), Ace of Cups, and Seven of Wands respectively. The story, they told was to accept help and stop struggling by yourself. The Chariot (VII) (body) emphasised let yourself be carried forward. The Ace of Cups (mind) said allow yourself to be healed. And finally Seven of Wands (spirit) said stop struggling. (This card reminded me of fighting all by myself against the world.)

In my second reading, I asked how I could help my son in his college life. The Ace of Cups, Two of Pentacles, and Seven of Wands came up respectively. (The sex of the characters on the cards was important since they featured young men.) The Two of Pentacles (mind) suggested that he had to balance his body and spirit by himself. The Ace of Cups (body) suggested that I provide him with basic needs, so that he could fight his own battles. The Seven of Wands (spirit) emphasised that I need to get out of his way, and allow him to mature.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

COOT: Interconnectedness

Often described as ungainly, Coots (Fulicae) seems to be a combination of several Birds. They have the body and habits of Ducks, the bill of Chickens, and the lobed toes of Grebes. In addition, their featherless frontal shield gave rise to the expression “bald as a Coot”.

Splattering across the water as They take off and land, Coots are easily noticed. Relatives of Moorhens, Coots bob their heads about while walking. They are decidedly unromantic Birds.

The only members of the Rail Family who live in groups, Coots zealously guard their small territories. (A group of Coots is called a “cover”.) Both Male and Female Coots will assert Themselves, feathers erect, against intruders. Moreover, with their powerful feet, Coots will flip over a rival and try to drown Them.

These ungainly odd Birds are indicators of the health of the wetlands, for their disappearance tolls the bell for other species. However, the groundskeepers of many golf courses make war with Coots since They damage the greens and ponds. But Coots need to be tolerated for all our sakes. We need to pay attention to these Birds and keep Them safe, since Coots demonstrate our interconnectedness with all.

Monday, February 22, 2010


A familiar sight in marsh lands is Common Moorhen high stepping and bobbing along. Because of her hen-like movements, Common Gallinules is also called “Moorhen”, “Waterhen” or “Marshhen.” A greedy eater, Common Moorhen will first feast on Slugs and Snails in the water. Later She will climb onto nearby berry bushes to scarf down the blackberries that She finds.

When mating season comes, Female Common Moorhen will build a nest in the dense vegetation. Unlike many other Birds, She actively competes for Mates. With her wings raised, Common Moorhen races across the water to claim her Mate. After mating, She stoutly protects her Chicks from predators.

Common Moorhen is neither shy nor is She retiring. Instead She is fierce in all that She does. One naturalist witnessed a Common Moorhen drive off a Stoat that had been swimming near her Chicks. Fearlessly She lives her life fully. Common Moorhen urges you to be fierce, and claim your place in the world.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

RAIL FAMILY: How to be Elusive

Shy and secretive, Rails are rarely seen but often heard. In the marshes, Rails race through the dense vegetation on their strong legs and long toes. With their short wings, stout legs, and compressed bodies, They can easily escape into the grasses. “Thin as a Rail” refers to their supple bodies and abilities to hide in plain sight.

The Rail Family has nearly thirty Sub-groupings. The most notable are Coots, with their bald plates, and Waterhens, who are like Hens in their activities. In addition, Swamphen, Purple Gallinules, and Tahakee comprise the Porphyrio group of Rails.

Tahakee of New Zealand is the largest living member of the Rail Family. Like many Rails found on islands, Tahakee is flightless. Because of the competition of introduced animals on their islands, many Rail species are threatened with
extinction. In fact, Tahakee was thought to be extinct several times.

At a local marsh I was visiting, the naturalist could only identify the Rails by their calls but could not find Them. Moreover, none of us could see Rails amongst the reeds. The loud calls of Rails can be heard in the wetlands, but the Birds Themselves are not seen.

Like Foxes, Rails are elusive, choosing when to be noticed and not. Melding back into the reeds with relative ease, Rails can disappear in front of you. However do not become so elusive that you end up extinct by not being noticed.

Science Notes:

1. In various regions of the world, Rails are called different names. In the Old World, Rails are separated into long-billed birds known as “rails”, and short-billed ones as “crakes”. The term “Rails” include coots, crakes, gallinules, and swamphens.

2. Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) have many names. They are also called “skitty coots” and “black gallinules”. Blue Gallinules (Porphyrio porphyrio) belong to the Porphyrio sub-grouping of Rails. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) and Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) are Rails of different sub-groupings.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The largest Bird of the Americas, Greater Rhea is a familiar sight on the Pampas of South America. Meanwhile, the smaller Darwin’s (Lesser) Rhea roams in the mountains of Chile. As Ratites, Rheas have no keel bone, and are therefore flightless. However, They can sprint at great speeds with their powerful legs.

What Rheas are noted for are their mating and breeding habits. When establishing their Harems, Rhea Cocks bit and kick each other. Zookeepers say that during breeding season, Rhea Cocks will chase them out of their cages. Meanwhile, Argentine ranchers have Dogs to keep the aggressive Cocks at bay from their Herds.

The victorious Rhea makes a nest on the ground, and lines it with plant leaves. When He is ready, Rhea Cock races towards his Hens with outstretched wings. He calls to Them, “Nan-du.” (In fact, in many part of South America, Rhea is called “Nandu”.) After mating, Rhea Cock directs Rhea Hen to the nest. After She lays her Eggs, He shoos Her away and cares for the eggs Himself.

Rhea Cock will incubate up to sixty eggs. However to protect his brood from intruders, He may rolls a few out of the nest for predators to take. The remainder, He guards by stretching his long neck out and hissing a warning. Wielding his large beak, Rhea can effectively kill an intruder, while watching over his Chicks. Rhea Cock will rear his Chicks until They are independent in two to three years.

Rhea Cock shows us the highs and lows of single parenthood. He tends to his Chicks, but cannot incubate all the Eggs, which means that a high percentage does not hatch. However, the remainder, He will fiercely defend with beak and claw. Be a good father, but know your limits in having children counsels Rhea.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Depending on whether the reading is a simple or a complex one, I have two different ways of preparing for it. However, for all the readings that I do, I light a candle. I was taught that this was to signal that divining is about to occur. Meditating on the flame clears my mind and readies it for divination. Since divination is for me a conversation with the Gods, I use the candle lighting to enter sacred time.

Another thing that I do is to have formal tea. I have a small ceremony which includes selecting the loose tea, washing the china teacups, and setting out the tea biscuits. Taking tea relaxes me and makes the transition to sacred time and space easier. Also, it puts me in the frame of mind for reading. The small ceremony is a way to transition from the secular to the sacred.

For a three card reading, I simply shuffle the cards and lay them beside my teacup. Usually, I am not thinking of any question, but am simply looking for general information. I lay out the cards and make notes of my impressions.

For a more formal or complex reading, I follow my training as a Roman Augur. First, I define my sacred space by declaring its boundaries. Then, I burn incense to the Gods, and cleanse the area. I own two divination cloths that I use. One is from a Tarot kit, and the other is one I made by weaving. I use the Tarot cloth for class and casual readings. The other, which is dedicated to the Goddess Frigga, is for more formal readings.

Since I consider divination to be a sacred act, I calm myself first, and then formulate the question. After remaining quiet for a few minutes, I shuffle the cards and deal them. I record my question and first impressions. Then I do a more formal write up of the reading.

Although, I regard divination to hear the whisperings of the Gods, I see the informal three card spread to be more of a daily conversation. More complex spreads are formal venues of decision making that includes listening to the Gods. Such is the difference between the two for me. In Roman divination, the Gods are consulted as to an individual’s choices. I consider a Major Aracana card in a spread to be the opinion of the Gods.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Elemental Scavenger Hunt: Earth

Turkey Feather: Where I live, wild turkeys roam the parks. Called the “Earth Eagle” by Native Americans, the turkey does live close to Mother Earth, rarely flying. Moreover, the feathers of these feisty birds glisten like the jewels of the Earth. Turkeys bring us close to the earth.

White Oak Acorn: This acorn was one that a squirrel partially buried for future food. Each acorn is a miniature of the earth in fertility. Within every acorn are the beginnings of oak trees, mighty trees that are rooted in the earth.

Hickory Nut: Nearby any hickory tree are many large round balls of nuts. When these nuts fall, they make a loud thud reminding everyone of gravity. Moreover, hickory nuts are solid resembling the earth that they fall to.

Gravel: Often underfoot, these ordinary stones subtly remind us of the earth. They quietly service our needs by lining paths, and providing materials for parking lots and drive ways. Often neglected, these small stones are much like the earth, which is usually taken for granted by us.

Dirt: The essence of the earth is dirt. Dirt nourishes life through providing crops, trees, and grass for all of us all. In addition, the soil provides homes for many creatures such as moles and worms, who care for the earth. Without dirt, there would be no earth to speak of.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Elemental Scavenger Hunt: Water

Mussel Shell: I have a small shell that I picked up from a nearby stream. In this steam are shells from other fresh water shellfish. For me, shells, whether they are fresh or sea water ones, represent the essence of water. These animals open and close their shells with the ebb and flow of water.

Fossil Shark Tooth: Parts of the park that I visited were underwater in prehistoric times. Shark teeth abound for those who look carefully. As rulers of the seas, sharks ably demonstrate the fierce power of water.

Duckweed: Growing in ponds, duckweed provides oxygen for the animals that live there. It also offers places for fish and smaller animals to hide from the predator frogs and turtles. Water, in ponds, often obscures the other worlds that lie below.

River Stone: Worn smooth stones wash up from the local rivers and lie on their banks. Smoothing the rough edges of hard rock through time is something that water does well. Within these river stones is the quiet power of water.

Sand: Also associated with water is sand. Like river stones, sand aptly demonstrates the patience of water. Originally consisting of rocks, sand is the result of the waves repeatedly crashing various rocks together. In addition, sand moves like water, constantly shifting and changing, never remaining the same.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


White Pine Cone: There are few natural items better for starting a fire than a pine cone. Full of tar and pitch, it makes excellent kindling. In addition, some pine trees, such as Jack Pine, require fire to open their seed cones for dispersal. For these reasons, I think of pines as cousins of the fire.

Sycamore Leaf: Only when hot weather arrives do the sycamore trees leaf out. A tree of summer, they are attuned to its heat and warmth. Come fall, these trees lose their leaves early, usually turning a bright yellow. Sycamores represent the fires of summer.

Red Oak Leaf: In the Celtic tradition, the oak is associated with Taranis, the Celtic God of Thunder. Often struck by lightening, oak trees are sacred to Him. Because of this ancient association, oak represents the illumination of fire.

Cicada Shell: In hot August, you can hear the cicadas buzzing in the trees. The hotter it becomes, the louder they buzz. After mating and molting, they often leave their shells in the tree sap for me to discover. For me, cicada shells contain the heated passions of August.

Piece of Basalt: This volcanic rock came from deep within the earth. Since I live in an area of few volcanoes, I purchased it at the nature center that I go to. For me it represents the fires of earth, the molten center of life.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


To find items in nature that represented the various elements was an exercise in creative thinking. Since it was winter time while I was collecting these things, I had both an advantage and a disadvantage. I had less to choose from, but could focus more on how each item would be connected to an element.


White Pine Needles: While standing under the pines, you can hear the trees whisper to the wind. In the fall, their needles drift down forming a warm blanket on the earth. Sometimes, the wind catches the needles in the branches, and they float off into the sky. The playful pine needles call to the wind “Let’s fly!”

Norway Maple Seed: I call these maple seeds “helicopters” for they twirl in the air when they leave their tree. Other people call maple seeds “whirligigs” for the same reason. In the spring, they are usually the first seeds to appear. To the delight of children and adults, these “whirligigs” dance in the spring air.

Weeping Willow Leaf: Graceful weeping willows often catch the subtle breezes. Even in winter weeping willows rarely remain still, swaying their branches to and fro. Catching the movement of the wind with their branches, the willows hold a conversation with the air.

Crow Feather: As the crows molted, I would find their feathers on the ground. Although they are no longer used for flying, these crow feathers can still capture the wind. To me, these feathers represent air in all its wondrous glory.

Rose Petal: On particularly windy days, the rose bushes will let loose their petals. When catching a breeze, the aroma of the roses will waft through the air. These red blooms remind me of the tender breezes of June.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


The loveliest of Bee-eaters, European Bee-eater migrates across the Mediterranean Sea to summer in Europe. Wherever He goes, He flies together with his huge Flock. In their turquoise blues, brick reds, and lemon yellows, European Bee-eaters fill the skies with bright primary colours.

When his Flock returns to Europe, European Bee-eater eagerly finds his favourite hunting perch in their summering grounds. Rapidly scanning the area, He zips out and grabs a passing Insect. Gorging Himself on Bees, European Bee-eater will catch about two hundred Bee-sized Insects to feed his family. Because He feasts on Bees, many beekeepers regard Him to be a pest. However, European Bee-eater also eats Hornets and Bee Wolves, predators of Honey Bees.

In his large Colony, European Bee-eater lives with his family Clan. Within his Clan are non-breeding Birds, usually Uncles and Sons. These Bee-eaters help with the raising of the Clan’s Chicks.

Whether in a Colony or a Clan, European Bee-eater makes a colourful sight. Against a grey sky, He brightens it up. With a sunny sky, He enhances it with beauty. European Bee-eater paints the sky, as you can too.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Carmine Bee-eater spends most of her day flying high over mangrove swamps, grassy plains, and open pastures. As the largest of the African Bee-eaters, She can overhaul her Prey in mid-air. Moreover, Carmine Bee-eater can de-venom a Honey Bee in mid-flight.
Carmine Bee
-eater usually lives in colonies with over a thousand members. Along with her fellow Birds, She riddles the earthen cliff where they live with deep holes for her nest. Hurling beak first against a standing cliff, Carmine Bee-eater will continue until She makes a depression. Once that is made, She will then finish her burrow, by pecking from a standing position.

When Carmine Bee-eater hunts insects, She is inventive. Riding on the backs of Antelope or Koi Bustard, She eats the Insects that are disturbed by Them. She will even perch on tractor cabs to snatch Insects caught in the machine’s slipstream. Sometimes Carmine Bee-eater will skim over the water, submerge Herself and catch a Fish.

A successful predator, Carmine Bee-eater is called “Cousin to the fire” in Africa. She plucks Insects escaping the flames. Carmine Bee-eater seizes opportunities where She finds them. Just remember to be as skillful as She is or you will get singed if you get too close to the fire.

Science Notes:

1. Scientists have divided Carmine Bee-eater into two species. The Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nuacordes) is the larger of the two. Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus) has blue-green throat plumage instead of red.