Liminal Spaces and the Illusion of Separateness

Nothing is planned by the sea and the sand. – The Who

My husband and I arrived at Folly Beach, South Carolina, just outside Charleston, last night. The purpose of our trip, of course, is to view Monday’s solar eclipse in its totality. We had decided month ago to make a family vacation out of it, and met my husband’s parents and my brother- and sister-in-law here at a rented house just a short walk from the beach.

We drove from Washington, D.C. and arrived late last night, after 10 p.m. Now, I have to say that I have not spent a lot of time on the beach in my life. I didn’t see the ocean for the first time until I was 11 years old. I had a couple of trips to the Jersey shore in my childhood, and then as an adult have been fortunate to spend some time on beaches in Italy, Greece, and West Africa. Still, all told, not a lot of lifetime beach time. So when we arrived last night, I couldn’t wait until the next day to see the ocean. My husband and I took the short walk to the beach in the dark. There, we walked across the vast, empty stretch of sand, listening to the crash of the waves, and stepped right into the place where the earth meets the sea.

As we waded into the ocean, I was reminded of the magic of liminal spaces. The times and places that are in between, that transition from one state to another. Dawn and dusk both blend day into night, night into day. Druids often invoke the power of earth, sea and sky. This place where I was standing was such a liminal space, a space where earth, sea and sky all meet.

In Celtic lore as well as in the traditions of many other cultures, these liminal spaces are rife with magic. Take two of the great celebrations from the Year Wheel, Samhain and Beltane. At Samhain, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is said to be thin. Beings from either side may pass back and forth more easily. Opposite Samhain on the Wheel we find Beltane, when the veil between our world and the world of the nature spirits or fae is thin. These are the times between, the times that blend times, the times of ending and beginning of the seasons. And we recognize their magic.

The liminal state between sleeping and waking is another such space. We have a brief window to bring a bit of dreamtime into our waking state. We may feel we hover close to the world of the dead in our sleep, our unconscious state. From those spaces we gain power, and we learn lessons. We may see things more clearly. We can invoke these states too through shamanic practices, touching the places between worlds. In nature we are drawn to the places where the elements of life come together- where the sky meets the earth (mountains), where the earth meets the water (oceans, lakes, rivers).

Here at the beach today, I thought about liminal spaces as I stood in the ocean, feeling the waves crash against me. And the thought hit me as the waves hit me- these liminal spaces strip away the illusion of separateness. They allow us to see the great truth of the universe- that none of us is separate, that nothing is separate. We all are made of all the elements we see around us. The water that sustains life is taken up into the air and then released back to us. We are relatives to every living thing on this planet, and we all come from the dust of stars.

This is always true of course, and we can always be aware of this. The truth is there, all around us, always. But when we come to these liminal spaces, we come face to face with this truth, in all its mystery and majesty and wonder. If we are open to it, our consciousness can shift through the experience. What could be more powerful and magical?

On our drive down to South Carolina, we listened to a podcast about preparing to see the eclipse. One of the podcast hosts talked about what a transformational experience it could be for people- that it could being a knowledge of oneness with the cosmos. I know the eclipse will be a magical experience (I plan to blog about it here in a few days). But I also know that I am always one with the cosmos- I just need to be reminded of it, and to fully experience it. I hope that more and more I will be able to live that knowledge and experience in the day to day, because that seems to me the deepest magic of all.

And Justice for Tarot: International Tarot Day Blog Hop

Read the previous post in the blog hop at Oephebia’s blog here: https://oephebia.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/wheel-of-fortune/

I confess I was intimidated when I saw my card assignment for the International Tarot Day Blog Hop. For me, Justice is one of the more difficult cards of the major arcana. The Moon, the High Priestess, Death or even The Tower are cards that I connect to easily, whose energy and message is usually clear to me. But Justice…Justice can be harder for me to wrap my head around. And isn’t it just like the tarot- in this case, in the form of participation in a blog hop- to throw you an archetype you need to work with and a lesson you need to learn? With that in mind, I humbly dive into this card.

Justice in the Fool’s Journey

One of the interesting aspects of the Justice card is that it changes places with the Strength card in the order of the major arcana, depending on what deck you are using. (Justice and Strength are two of the cardinal virtues represented in the tarot- the third and final virtue is Temperence.) Traditionally Justice sat at number 8 in the order of the major arcana- just after The Chariot and just before The Hermit. When Arthur Waite created his popular and influential deck that came to be known as the Rider-Waite-Smith in 1909, he switched the places of Justice and Strength in his deck, making Justice number 11 and Strength number 8, to align the cards with the Golden Dawn’s astrological correspondences. Today, when you pick up a deck you may find Justice at #8 and Strength at #11, or vice versa.

When thinking about the major arcana, I like to meditate on The Fool’s Journey, the journey through the archetypes and lessons taken by The Fool, who represents each of us. Many readers think of this journey in 3 stages, dividing the 21 cards of the major arcana (not including The Fool, usually placed at 0) into 3 sets of seven. The first stage, cards 1-7, deals with the physical or material realm; the second stage, cards 8-14, the realm of the mind; and finally the third stage, cards 15-21, is the realm of the spiritual- our higher self and connection with the divine. If we conceptualize the journey this way, then card #8, be it Justice or Strength, represents the first step on a new stage of our journey, the realm of the mind, where we learn about ourselves, how to align our efforts with our purpose in this life, and how to draw on our inner strengths as we make our way on this journey. Card #11 falls in middle of this second stage of the journey.

Wherever Justice appears on our journey, we must ask ourselves what this archetype means and how it challenges us in our own lives.

Meditations on Justice

Many spiritual paths, from ancient times to today, have a concept of divine justice, and colloquial conceptions reflect these notions. “What goes around comes around.” “They’ll get theirs.” “They’ll get what they deserve.” These phrases reflect the idea that there is ultimately balance in the universe- that any action we take sets in motion a response that will answer us in kind.

This divine justice would be an unerring justice- whether we act or not, whether we can see it or not, justice will take its course. Interestingly, modern laws of physics seem to confirm this understanding of the universe. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In a creative interpretation, the wonderful Science Tarot deck even uses the law of conservation of energy as its Justice card.

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Justice from the Science Tarot, published 2010

We, as humans, are not unerring- we make mistakes. Yet we aspire to the ideal- to create perfect justice in our world, and in our lives.

The symbolism of Justice

The most well-known and influential decks depict Justice as a woman, holding a sword in her right hand and the scales of justice in her left. These are the most basic and recognizable elements of the Justice card. The same elements are traditionally found in any personified representation of the allegorical justice, including many paintings, statues, and other works of art from around the world. Although many of the allegorical works depict Justice blindfolded (a tradition that post-dates the earliest tarot decks), in the tarot she typically has her eyes open.

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Justice from the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, circa 1450
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Justice from the Rider-Waite-Smith, 1910

The civilizations of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome revered goddesses of justice, and since that time Justice has taken the form of a woman in Western society. She holds scales for weighing the matter before her, and a sword to restore balance once a determination has been made. We might imagine that Justice first looks to her scales, then to her sword as she takes action to restore balance to the situation.

For those of us looking to create justice in our lives and our world, perhaps we need the sword both before and after the scale. The Justice card speaks to us of the archetypal sense of justice- not balancing everyday things like we might do with the 2 of Pentacles, but seeing the truth at the heart of a matter and responding based on that knowledge. The sword can help us to cut away what might keep us from seeing the truth- the illusions, the preconceived notions, the mental clutter. We need to cut these things away to see clearly. And then, we weigh only the truth before us.

Once we can see clearly, it is time for us to act. We use our sword to right the wrong and address the imbalance. And so, the Justice card asks a lot of us. It is not easy to wield the sword, and it is a great responsibility. We sometimes need to make difficult decisions to serve what is true and what is right, rather than what is comfortable or popular.

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Another great Justice, from the Prisma Visions deck, published 2014

And so whether we find Justice at number 8 or number 11 on our journey, we must learn to seek what is true and cut away what is not. We may find as we work with the sword and the scales of justice we connect more deeply with the truth not only of ourselves but of the world around us. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is another stage of the journey that teaches us not only the great responsibility of our life, but the reflective connection between what is within and without. And so this card challenges us to seek Justice everywhere.

I hope you all have been enjoying this blog hop! Please see Momma Tarot’s blog at https://mommatarot.com/hanged-man for the next blog in the hop. Thank you for reading! 

Preparing for the Solstice: A Midsummer Music Playlist

I love getting into the festive mood of the season as the Wheel of the Year turns- seasonal home decorations, seasonal altar, eating the foods of the season, etc. And one of my favorite ways to get into the mood of the season is music. A couple of years ago I put together music playlists for each of the Wheel of the Year celebrations, and love listening to these throughout the year.

Right now of course I’m listening to my Litha/Midsummer/Alban Hefin playlist. I hope you enjoy it too as we approach this Solstice!

Listen on 8tracks:

https://8tracks.com/margaritanoir/litha

Listen on Spotify:

Summer Solstice Coming

There is no time to waste.
The Solstice is coming.
Go out under the sun, let it ripen you with the strawberries.
Seek the healing herbs that grow strong in its light.
Touch your hands to the trees that call us to the season.
The Solstice is coming-
the days are long and the nights are filled with power.
Let yourself be warmed.
Shed layers, listen to the songs of the birds,
walk in the resonance of wild leaves.
Greet your own being under the sun
and know possibility.
The Solstice is coming.
Now is the time to blossom.

Goddess Wisdom Spread

A very insightful and wonderful reader used a spread I created and posted the reading on their blog, so I wanted to share by reblogging here! The Goddess Wisdom spread is a simple 4-card layout:
Card 1: Intuition. What is your intuition telling you right now?
Card 2: Nurturance. What is nurturing you right now, or what in your life needs to be nurtured?
Card 3: Universe. How are the energies of the universe aligning around you now?
Card 4: Goddess Wisdom. What wisdom from the Goddess guides you now?

Mageshifter's Lair

20170416_184258Card 1: Intuition. What is your intuition telling you right now?
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Inanna-the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sexual desire, fertility, knowledge, wisdom, war, and combat. She was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. She later became identified by the Akkadians and Assyrians as the goddess Ishtar, and further with the Hittite Sauska, the Phoenician Astarte and the Greek Aphrodite, among many others.

This card speak about knowing when I have enough and need no more of that(could be knowledge, money and stuff) in my life. I can’t have it ALL. I don’t need it ALL. To be happy with what I have and not to fall victim to wanting more and more, not to be insatiable. The content with what I have and deserve. To know limit to my hunger and not to allow it to control me.

Card 2: Nurturance. What is nurturing you right…

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Sacred Days of Midsummer Tarot Spread

As I mentioned in my Coming Back post, I’ll be writing more about my tarot practice on the blog. Here’s a post about a spread I’ll be using this year to prepare for Midsummer/Litha/Alban Hefin or whatever you call this sacred time of the Summer Solstice!

This spread was inspired by the Sacred Days of Yule spread created by Linda J Paul at BellaOnline. I participated in a group reading using this spread this past Yule over at the wonderful Aeclectic Tarot Forum.  It is a very special idea for a spread. There are 12 cards in the spread, which are laid out in a circle. But instead of laying out all 12 cards in a single sitting, the idea is that the spread is laid out over 12 days, pulling one card each day and placing it in the circle. The spread is kept up in your home for the 12 days. In this way, you create a time to reflect on the sacred season by working with the cards each day.

I had a wonderful experience participating in the group reading for Yule. And so of course, since I love Midsummer, I thought- if there is a spread like this for the winter solstice, why not one for the summer solstice?

So I did some research on different festivals and correspondences from around the world around the time of the summer solstice. I love taking a multicultural approach to tarot, and I was pleased to find concepts and celebration to draw on from around the world for this spread.

THE SPREAD

The purpose of this spread is to take the time to walk a sacred path around the time of the summer solstice, reflecting on that sacred time and attuning with the energy of the season. The layout of the spread is taken from the Sacred Days of Yule spread mentioned above. 12 cards are laid out in a circle, with one card being pulled each day over the course of the 12 days, June 14 – June 25. The layout looks like this:

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And here are the positions for the 12 cards.

1. Birth of the Muses – June 14: This card shows how our inspiration and creativity is manifesting.

2. Vestalia – June 15: An ancient Roman festival dedicated to Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth. This card shows us our hearth, the fire at the center of our life and home, and how to tend to it.

3. Night of the Teardrop – June 16: Remembrance of the tears of Isis causing the Nile River to overflow. This card shows what our emotions are telling us at this time.

4. Juno, Goddess of Fertility and Union – June 17: Celebrating the ancient Roman goddess for whom the month of June is named. This card shows us an area of fertile growth in our lives.

5. Festival of Strawberries – June 18: As the strawberries ripen, this card shows us the sweetness in our lives.

6. Oak King – June 19: A dedication to the Oak King, who is now near the height of his power in his battle with the Holly King. This card shows us our strength.

7. Scrying – June 20: In the tradition of scrying at the time of Midsummer, this card shows us a blessing to come.

8. Summer Solstice – June 21: We are at the height of the sun’s power, the longest day, in the Northern Hemisphere. (If in the Southern Hemisphere, this day is the turning point for the days to get longer.) This card shows us how to shine our own light like the Sun.

9. Honey Moon – June 22: This card shows us how to release anxieties or worries, how to enjoy ourselves in this moment.

10. Saint John’s Eve – June 23: Like the herbs traditionally gathered on St. John’s Eve, this card shows what protects or heals us.

11. Guru Purnima – June 24: Indian festival of expressing gratitude to teachers. This card reminds us of a lesson we have learned, or an experience or person that has taught us something, that we should remember and have gratitude for as we move forward.

12. Parvati, Earth Mother – June 25: The card shows us how to ground ourselves and how to connect with the earth’s abundance.

I hope this spread will be useful for you on your journey during this Midsummer! If you are a member of the Aeclectic Forum (or would like to join) and want to do this reading as part of a group, please join us there for the group reading. The reading starts June 14!