My Year Ahead: Eight of Swords

My Year Ahead: Eight of Swords

2017 is the first year that I actually did the year-ahead reading for myself and I intend to analyze each card of the month as a summary of said month. This is more of an experiment than anything else for me - I do not treat this kind of readings (or any tarot readings for that matter) as a means of predicting one's future or dictating how one should live one's life.

As some of you know, I mostly use tarot as a tool for self-discovery and self-exploration, in conjunction with self-analysis, reflection, based on one's intuition as well as the backbone of jungian psychology. In the particular case of year-ahead readings, I treat each card of the month more as a parable or a kōan to try and "solve" / draw wisdom from in relation to my present situation and state of mind, rather than a determinant of what's to come. Of course, I do not exclude the possibility of things serendipitously aligning, for it is not only Self that influences one's existence but a number of outside, collective notions, both conscious and unconscious, that should be taken into the equation as well.

Eight of Winter - Victorian Fairy Tarot
#TarotThursdayThree: 26/01/2017

#TarotThursdayThree: 26/01/2017

Damn, weeks just seem to fly by, especially when I get sick. I'm much better than I was this time last week, thank you very much. But! I promised myself that I'm going to write at least one blog post in between each of these #TarotThursdayThrees and so far it doesn't seem like it's happening - there's always something preventing me from having quality free time.
To be fair, I currently have a few work-in-progress articles, but my problem is that instead of working on and finishing one, I've got around four somewhere in the middle. Ah well, at least one will be published before the end of January - and it's going to be a new series, tied to the Year Ahead reading.

Alright, let's get rolling!

1. What was your first time like giving an in-person reading? Where were you? How did you feel? Spill the deets!
To be fair, I can't recall giving my first in-person reading. If we're talking specifically about tarot here then it must've been either for my mom or for a close friend - they're usually the two most open-minded and curious people when it comes to my experiments with the Spirit, plus they already received many rune readings from me in the past. What I do remember is that at the beginning of my tarot adventure I found it hard to find the right words to describe what I was seeing with satisfactory precision, so my first readings for others must've reflected that. While runes always gave me very clear and straigh-forward messages that couldn't be mistaken for anything else, I found that for me tarot is very much a word game, where semantics is everything. It's not enough to know what a certain concept means to you - you need to steer wisely to investigate what it means to someone else to be able to give adequate advice. Of course, this depends on how one views tarot. As I mention here, for me tarot is very much a tool based on human psychology and is treated by me as such.

2. Have you ever had a negative client response to one of your readings? How did they react and why? How did you respond back?
I never had a negative response to a reading I gave. I do know what it's like to get one, though! There was a rather short period of time when me and my friend offered tarot readings together - we functioned under one business name and chose which one of us was going to give a reading based on who felt more drawn to a specific query, unless the client had a preference. In some of the tougher cases we did our readings together, which was great. We also supervised each other to ensure that 1) the readings we gave were always top quality, 2) we stayed balanced, healthy and not overwhelmed or drained by it.

Either way, there was this one lady who my friend did a reading for. It was a really tough one - a lot of shadows surfaced, and where the lady tried to blame outside sources for her misfortunes, it turned out it was her behaviors that kept her miserable. The reading turned out to be very profound but probably the harder to digest because of it. Sadly, our client was not exactly ready to hear what she heard and her response was very negative. Just as she blamed her misfortunes on the outside, this time she blamed the reader for projecting things onto her that were not at all her traits. I don't remember how it all ended but I do remember feeling sorry for my friend, and for the lady in a way.

It's important to mention that in Poland people are not used to getting high quality readings or counselling sessions with tarot. The stereotype of a gypsy fortune teller prevails. People get tarot readings either for fun or to hear some reassuring things about their future. Nobody takes it seriously because nobody knows what exactly tarot can be used for. In a country where most people are Catholic (at least on paper) and any alternative approach to spirituality is a spawn of Satan (or taken to the opposite, wowoo-channeling-angelkin-reptilian extreme), not many serious conversations can be had about these things. This is directly reflective of the kinds of queries we received from our clients as well as the responses to our readings, especially if it didn't turn out to be all fluff and bright future ahead. So yeah, we stopped offering readings after a few months, mostly because the clientele was not exactly up our alley.

3. Have you ever been challenged by a skeptic regarding tarot? What was your experience like?
Well. I do challenge myself on a regular basis, to make sure I don't float off somewhere strange. And my partner also challenges me quite regularly - he's not a fan of tarot. He's more of a Futhark guy. We often have the most productive, challenging conversations about tarot vs Futhark which always bring something new to my understanding of both of the systems. We're both pagan and we share a similar understanding of the runes, though he's much better at naming what it is that makes this system so special for us, and what makes him dislike tarot. He once said that if wild nature could come up with a language / alphabet it would be Futhark. It's just simple staves and yet there's something so profound and ancient behind them, a language describing all of the natural, human and divine experience, doing so in a way that could not possibly be more simple and yet could not be more complex. 
Tarot, at the other hand, is a set of archetypes that relate specifically to the human condition, hence it's a tool for deepening one's understanding of the psyche - both conscious and unconscious, personal and collective - but always human. My partner dislikes tarot (and I love it) precisely because it's so psychological and analytical - and he hates that shit!
It would probably be harder for me to have a conversation with a skeptic if I viewed tarot differently. With my approach to tarot, the worst thing that can possibly come up in a conversation with a skeptic is that tarot is not a tool for everyone. Which is true! I don't expect everyone to understand why I find tarot useful, which is why I don't talk about it with those that won't want to understand.

Hope you enjoyed my answers to this week's #TarotThursdayThree! Anything caught your attention? Let's discuss it!
Winter Sickness, Confessions from my "Death" Bed + #TarotThursdayThree

Winter Sickness, Confessions from my "Death" Bed + #TarotThursdayThree

Okay, Winter, you win! Seems like my immunology decided to give in in the end, so I'm bound to my bed, trying to recover and use this time as productively as possible. I have to confess though, it doesn't feel like regular tracheitis. There's a series of synchronicities accompanying my sickness, and it's kind of fun to analyze with a foggy mind, so I thought I'd share.

I should probably start by saying that I've been struggling to eliminate nicotine from my life for ages. Since my grandmother died 3 years ago, I quit smoking and replaced cigarettes with an e-cig. Over time, I got down to zero nicotine liquids but gave myself stupid excuses as to why I don't want to do something about the behavioral addiction to the act of smoking/vaping.

Around two weeks ago I lost my e-cig in a series of mysterious coincidence, it literally just dematerialized from my pocket. And trust me, I'm not the kind of person that loses their stuff, ever. After some time, I gave in and bought a pack of cigarettes, then another pack. They're not really tasty, they smell like shit and I have to say I felt ashamed while walking with a cigarette publically. Yeah.

There's this postgrad course in jungian analysis in conjunction with Schultz's autogenic training that I'm taking. During the last meeting we were working with archetypes in the form of pictures or paintings that we had to draw (very much like oracle reading) to help us analyze what it is that's blocking us in our lives right now VS what it is that's elevating or inspiring us. Sure enough, I drew a shadow in the form of cigarettes as the thing that's currently blocking me. I let out a salve of laughter but then the contents of my subconscious in relation to smoking started to emerge. I asked myself: "Why am I still doing this?" and immediately heard the answer: "I don't feel ready just yet."

This felt familiar and is indeed the thing that's usually blocking me the most in general. It's this weird kind of perfectionism that makes me feel like I'm not ready just yet - I can always get better at something, more experienced at something, acquire more knowledge etc. I know this to be untrue. I'm perfectly aware that I'm at my best when I just DO IT, straight from my Heart, without this "forever getting ready" crap. Not to mention how in terms of smoking cigarettes, it makes no sense whatsoever. But that's how our mind works - it spews bullshit until we call on it. Anyway, it made me think. I really opened up and shared with the group about my recent smoking and how it's connected to all these situations when I don't feel ready or adequate. And one of the people shared a story how she struggled to quit smoking until she experienced nicotine poisoning. I can't share any details for the sake of privacy and sticking to the contract but it's relevant enough that I had to mention it.

Fast forward a few days - Thursday. I wake up feeling like shit. My head hurts, I want to vomit, I'm experiencing shivers and my trachea is on fire. I can't lay down because it makes me shiver but sitting or standing up makes me nauseous. I catch a glimpse of the pack of cigarettes on the table nearby and suddenly find myself running to the toilet to vomit. Excuse the graphic description. All the pieces start falling in place and I understand why I got sick. I had to. I call to work to say I'm not going to make it and I fall asleep for the next few hours. This is it, tracheitis. The sickness that smokers usually get for no reason. Except normally it wouldn't have happened after a week of smoking small amounts, especially not in this mutated, strange form that weirdly resembles nicotine poisoning.

I wake up, make myself a cup of chamomile to ease the pain in my throat and launch YT to keep myself awake. Synchronously, the first video I see on my list is about "sacred sickness". I watch it. It makes sense, psychologically, subconsciously, spiritually. I'm an ass. This is not a warning, this is what my whole body is trying to communicate. I'm quitting this shit for good.

Here, after my short and cringy horror story, it's time to light up the mood by answering this week's #TarotThursdayThree questions!

1. If you could design your own tarot deck and have it mass-produced, what theme would it have and what would it look like overall?
I really want to create my own tarot deck one day. It would definitely be Slavic-themed, with a lot of our gods and goddessess in majors and our mythos, moral code and way of life in minors. When it comes to the looks, I'd prefer something minimalistic, in tune with traditional Slavic folk art, embroidery - a lot of whites, reds and blacks for sure. There are currently no Slavic tarot decks available on the market and I'd love to change that one day.

2. How do you feel about the Celtic Cross spread?
Well, I did use it a number of times in my tarot "career". It's not a spread I regularly reach for (no spread is, really) but I find it potentially helpful for certain readings. In general, I always prefer my own spreads over someone else's - they're tailored exactly to my needs and every position is exactly what I want it to be.

3. If you could have any deck in the whole world (that you do not already), which one would you pick and why? 
The Mary-El Tarot. I'm passionate about shadow work and mythology and I feel like this deck is a perfect combination of these two things. Honestly, it's too expensive for me. I find it hard to justify spending almost 200 PLN on a tarot deck, even if it's a dream deck for me. I prefer to buy my decks second-hand, not necessarily because it's cheaper but because I think it's more environment-friendly, not to mention that I just love vintage and used things and antiques in general. There's something magical and special about acquiring a used object. Funnily enough, Mary-El is so far the hardest deck to find second-hand, especially in Central Europe. So I'm patiently waiting for it to make its way into my life somehow.

#TarotThursdayThree: 12/01/2017

#TarotThursdayThree: 12/01/2017

#TarotThursdayThree are weekly prompts for bloggers who are busy or, in my case, just inconsistent and lazy as fuck and struggle to keep their blogs updated regularly. The creatrix of all this is Julia from Spiral Sea Tarot - thanks, girl! I missed last week's prompts on purpose as they weren't exactly my kind of jazz, but this week I'm jumping in no matter what! Gotta exercise my writing muscles to improve on my non-existant writing "style" in English. Just a side note: Some folks have no idea how annoying it is to have a brilliant, witty, smart writing style in your mother tongue but then, when you write in English, you suddenly sound like a dumbass. Now you know, I guess. Eternal struggle! Anyway, let's get down to business.

1. What do you do with a deck you don't connect with?

I trade it, sell it or give it away. But I probably don't buy it in the first place. I'm very picky when it comes to my decks and try not to fall for shit I don't need. I admit it wasn't as clear and easy for me a year or two ago when I had a much bigger collection and I basically bought anything that was either "my style" or just a bargain. I started my journey with tarot only around 3 years ago - before then I used Futhark exclusively for over a decade.
At the beginning of one's tarot journey it might seem like a good idea to get our hands on as many decks as possible, because: 1) We're not sure what we're looking for yet, 2) We've no idea what we're actually going to like VS what we think we're going to like, 3) We need to compare our understanding of the tarot with various depictions of the same cards to truly understand what it means to us. But here's the thing. I bet my ass half of this community wouldn't end up being "deck collectors" if it wasn't for the trend hyping us up on social media. Seems like in 2017 it's a trend to go back to basics and stop buying shit like crazy - which is great and gets my seal of approval, btw! 
Anyway, I got rid of most of my collection around a year ago and I never looked back. I'm a Sagittarius and I like getting rid of stuff, like seriously, I could almost say it's my hobby.

2. How long do you give yourself to connect with a new deck?

It doesn't work this way for me. I'm one of those people who like to check all the images in the deck before I buy something, so I always know beforehand if the deck is right for me or not. I "connect" with a deck during a reading - I analyze the imagery and interpret it accordingly. I don't keep a tarot journal, I don't write meanings of the cards down. Now, after a couple years of practice, I know what I'm looking for in a deck, so it's much easier for me to connect with all the decks I already have or just acquired.

3. What consecration ritual(s) do you use with new divination tools?

If it's a used divination tool, I cleanse it with the smoke of loose incense and then place it on my altar with selenite or quartz on top. If it's a new tool, I just place it on my altar for a week or so. I also like to soak my tools in the moonlight from time to time, take some of them on trips in nature. 
This would be much more elaborate and completely different if I were to acquire a new set of Runes. Traditionally, Runes are supposed to be infused with the owner's blood and charged by one of the elements (Fire in my case).
I think it all depends on how you view your divination tools. For me, tarot and oracle are just cards. Of course, I like to infuse them with my personal energy but that's what I do with anything I intend to use at my altar. With Runes, it's a different story. Futhark is a system I have a huge respect for, it actually feels bigger and older than me, and much more powerful than cards. I use Runes in ritual work, magickal work, deeply transformative operations, in collaboration with forces that feel ancient and not subject to the manipulation of human mind. Whereas tarot feels like a system hugely based on human psychology and the human condition in general - there's nothing otherworldly or ancient about it. So I use it and treat it the same way I'd use any other self-development tool. Bear in mind these are just my personal opinions.

Hope you enjoyed my answers to this week's #TarotThursdayThree! Anything caught your attention? Let's discuss it!
Slavic Way: Bereginya, the Slavic Gymnastics for Women.

Slavic Way: Bereginya, the Slavic Gymnastics for Women.

Slavic gymnastics for women, also known as "the witches' gymnastics", is an old system of simple exercises that used to be passed down from mother to daughter in eastern Slavic countries for generations. It was always more of a family thing rather than a popular discipline, until over a decade ago, when a group of people decided to research it and put all the pieces together to create a system of exercises that is getting more and more recognition amongst Slavic women today. There are a few schools of Slavic gymnastics to choose from, all of them ultimately sharing the same core.

This system of exercise consists of 27 dynamic poses in total, divided into three Worlds of Slavic mythology, 9 poses each - The Upper World (Prawia), The Middle World (Jawia), The Lower World (Nawia). Each of the poses represents a trait, virtue or an aspect of life, has its own symbol/sigil, as well as other correspondences (affirmations, spells, purpose). From all 27 poses, you receive a set of 7 personal exercises, calculated based on your date and location of birth. A personal set consists of 6 basic poses (2 from each of the three Worlds) + one main pose that represents your life's purpose or mission.

My personal set of 7 poses

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