Tips For The Timid Tarot Student
Five of Swords
Tips to calm the timid tarot student –
by: Valerie Smith
I hear it all the time: “Isn’t that black magic? Not like I believe in magic, but, you know…just in case…”
“I’ve always been interested in that, but I don’t want to do it wrong.”
“I mean, how do you even choose a deck??”
Folx, never fear. Your trusted Spinster teacher is here to ease your worries. This is a classic Five of Swords situation: and it’s time to tell those distracting voices in your head to chill out. If you are interested, then tarot is for you; and you won’t accidentally find out when you are going to die, either. If you are asking the questions—(and especially if you are asking me!)—you are on track to becoming a very capable reader yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for those curious, but nervous or scared.
Finding that right deck establishes a healthy relationship with tarot. Curiosity drives this relationship. Shared language and mutual understanding fortify it. When you find a deck that calls to you, you’re more likely to play around with your deck, to get to know it, to draw cards for fun, and to trust it when you have a real question at hand. Through developing this relationship, you can more easily learn to trust yourself in your own interpretations of the cards.
- Tarot is self-empowering, not dangerous. Tarot is a beautiful tool for personal growth. Without getting too deep into historical patriarchy against women’s wisdom, let’s just say that that tools that connect people to our own inner knowing have been derided either as “fake” and/or “evil” for centuries. Tarot is a method of self-care, self-knowledge, and self-empowerment. Of course endangerous to the status quo! But it has never led me astray. Though I have fought against some of its better advice, with time, I come to understand. Frankly, the rule I (jokingly) follow is: Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to. That said, watch your reaction or response to the cards you’re reading—often, this is just as important as the cards themselves. As you learn to trust yourself, to listen to yourself about things you may need to change, you may feel fear. But to explore this interior world is to become more self-attuned. We strengthen and we remedy our world; we see clearly; and we live our dreams.
- If you are open to a discussion with the cards, there is not right or wrong way to read. The only common mistake is asking the cards to “prove” themselves. A skeptical person pulls a card without a thought, and is then disappointed when I begin to ask deeper questions. “Oh,” he said. “I thought it would just tell me something. I didn’t know I’d have to be involved.” Yep, sure do! Cards deal in intention, energy, and vulnerability. How can I walk up to a stranger and say: “Tell me something deep and meaningful about myself.” Wouldn’t happen! Instead, we introduce ourselves; we ask questions, we open, we share our views; we become vulnerable—and in that space, we grow. Same with tarot. There is no right or wrong way to have an interesting conversation. If you open and expose yourself to truth, so will the cards.
- Follow Your Woah! The first card I pulled from the Ritual Tarot oracle deck said it all—Follow Your Woah. She writes, “Follow the things that light you up…they lead you to more good stuff, more joy, answers, enlightenment, fun.” That spark of curiosity that starts with finding the right deck moves into your life. What are you curious about the cards? Start there. Find all the cards that represent your friends. Create a spread using only cards from the cups suit. Pretend all the court cards are at a party together, and see how they interact. Get creative! Whatever urges you forward, do that.
- Create your own practice. I’ve heard someone say, “Isn’t it true you should never read when you’re angry?” or “You need to pull a card every day, right?” Well, those aren’t rules I follow, but you can! The point is not to follow somebody else’s rules blindly. Do what feels right to you. Personally, when I’m angry is a great time to pull cards—it helps me to see things a little more clearly. But I certainly do not pull a card every single day—I tend to revolt with too much structure. If those ideas feel right, great; if they don’t, great! The point is to find the many ways that you and your cards work together. I trust you, and you should trust you, too.
The Language of Tarot
This past Saturday, I attended a friend’s backyard birthday party. It was a familiar scene as we gathered under the trees, drinks in hand, catching up around the fire pit. Then Gel gave me that sly smile: “Did you bring your cards?”
I did—I almost always do. So then and there we sat down on the Earth to ask ourselves some questions, and remind ourselves what we already know. Others came up to pick a card, to engage in their own knowing. And, the inevitable questions arose.
“How do you remember all the meanings?”
“Where did you learn?”
“How long did it take you?”
My answers, though, may not be what folks expect. I assume that they want to hear about an apprenticeship under a Master Psychic. (Do those exist? Please put me in contact.) Or that it runs in my blood from my great-grandmother’s lineage. Yeah, no. My answers are less exciting, but open all of us up to this beautiful instrument for self-knowledge.
See, the thing is, I taught myself. I’m teaching myself, still. Tarot is an art form that simply makes sense to me. It’s a language we can all speak and interpret. There is no certification required to pick up a deck, and learn with the cards about yourself, about your friends, and about the opportunities on your path. I learned, and I continue learning, by reading for and with others.
In Intuitive Tarot, offered for the first time at One Down Dog, we will collaboratively learn with one another and lots of amazing decks. Certainly there are basics to tarot: what each suit represents, or the form of the Major Arcana, for example. Yet there are far more interesting questions hidden in the cards. Three of Wands asks what you envision for yourself, and the Queen of Cups reflects back your own intuitive advice. In gathering together we will act as mirrors for one another while we gain confidence and deepen our understanding of tarot.
A beautiful and short reading you can do for yourself or a friend is by simply pulling four cards from your deck, representing your Mind – Body – Spirit – Heart. There are many questions that can be asked with this foundation, but the importance comes from holistic self-examination.
(For a beautiful story on the importance of connecting with all four of these elements, see Walking the Talk, A Sacred Responsibility.)
The Mind: What stories am I telling myself? What underlying assumption masking itself as a truth? What logical line of thinking should I be considering at this time? Or, for a twist: What teaching and learning can I cultivate during this phase?
The Body: What actions do I need to take? What messages is my body giving me about this situation? How should I nurture my physical form, in order to thrive?
The Spirit: This question depends deeply on the individual, since spirit means so many different things (or nothing at all!) to different people. But some questions include: When and where I encourage inspiration in my life? How is the world calling to me? How can I improve the energetic influence of my spirit in my community?
The Heart: Not always included in similar spreads, I had to add in The Heart, because it is so important to listen to the beats of our very own drums. What practices do I need to help foster a healthy, open heart? What is my heart crying out for?
Intrigued? Join me at One Down Dog (Silverlake) for three Intuitive Tarot workshops!
Thursday, 7:30 – 9:30
9/29: Meet the Cards
10/13: Following the Thread of Intuition
10/27: The Art of Storytelling
$75 for all three classes or $30 drop-in, if available!
#FeelBetterInYourBody – A National Yoga Month Instagram Challenge
CHALLENGE TIME!! September is national yoga month, and we’re doing a 30 day #yoga #instachallenge!
#feelbetterinyourbody all month long with us and our sponsors and win prizes!! Want to join the fun?
1️⃣ follow @onedowndog @firstname.lastname@example.org @cucciosomatology@ybicoalition @lovemoremovement
2️⃣share this post on your page and tag 3 friends
3️⃣post each day’s challenge, tag all the sponsors and #feelbetterinyourbody in the post (pro tip: save it all in your notes so you can just copy and paste)
4️⃣get on your mat and move your body!
Prizes: $100 to @beyondyoga, jewelry email@example.com, @ybicoalition yoga and body image book,@lovemoremovement t-shirt,@cucciosomatology goodies and more!
Yoga is more than asana (the poses) and One Down Dog is all about finding YOUR flow and making the pose match the person rather than the person match the pose. So this challenge includes some off the mat yoga fun. Here’s the breakdown of what each day means so you can plan ahead!
Late to the challenge? Just catch up! You can join in as late as 10 days in to win and join in ANY day just to play. Find your variation of each challenge.
1. #FeelBetterInYourBody “This is how I show up.” #Tadasana (hands to side or heart…all good).
2. #ODDselfie – Capture that self image! Whether it’s first take or your favorite picture.
3. BIG STEP – How do you lunge? Knee down? Knee bent? Arms high? Arms bent? Show us how YOU lunge.
4. FOOD FOR THE SOUL – There is NO guilt involved with this pleasure.
5. SQUATTY PARTY – #Malasana/#yogisquat… it looks and feels different for everyone. Our hips are shaped different, our knees feel differently.
6. TAKE A SEAT! #Utkatasana / Chair pose. – So how do you take a seat? With a block between the thighs? Hands where? Twist? How low do you go?
7. ROOT TO RISE – #Vrksasana – Tree pose variations.
8. FOOD FOR THE BODY – The thing you’re eating because you know you need it.
9. #MakeAwesomeHappen – Let’s see one or some of your favorite awesome things you do and have done. Big or small, it’s awesome!
10. ONE DOWN DOG – #AdhoMukhaSvanasana – Downward Facing Dog – clearly our favorite. One day at a time, one down dog at a time. We always show up with something different. From heels to hands, this pose will always look different.
11. #PLANKING – Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana – Want to drop to elbows or feel like knees are the right plank for you? Let’s see any plank!
12. THIS IS RIDICULOUS – #Chaturanga – We do this one a lot in vinyasa classes and it’s TOUGH. Drop those knees, use those blocks, modify!
13. OPEN HEARTS, STEADY BACKS, CANT LOSE. – Cobra (bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog, Sphinx. Give us any of those strong open hearts!
14. YOGI’S CHOICE – What’s YOUR yoga? A favorite pose to modify, your best healthy habit, or the thing that makes you feel most like you are down with that yoga life.
15. I AM A WARRIOR – Any warrior variation that makes you feel strong and open. Warrior One, Reverse Warrior, or that steady Warrior Two.
16. I DONT NEED IT…BUT I WANT IT – What is life without those extra things that just bring us joy?
17. I PAUSE FOR SELF-CARE – You are important. Make time for self-care. What is your go-to for caring for that body of yours that makes you feel good on the inside too?
18. MY SIDE IS THE STRONG SIDE – #Vasisthasana – Side Plank Variations! Drop a knee, an elbow, tripod that top leg, or send it high!
19. IS THIS RIGHT? Can we just help each other out on this one? Post a photo of the pose, the habit, or the food somebody swears is good for you but you just aren’t sure about. Surf the #FeelBetterInYourBody hashtag to help each other out with that tricky stuff.
20. THE BIG BEND – #PrasaritaPadottanasana – Wide Legged Fold has SO many arm variations and place you can play in.
21. ALL TIED UP – #garudasana – Eagle – For some of us this pose is that balance of strength and stretch. For some of us we just feel like a tilting pretzel. Either way it’s fun to play!
22. ITS A BIG DEAL – Share a photo of something that is important to you.
23. I’M A GREAT DANCER – #Natarajasana – Dancer pose variations, don’t be scared to use those straps!
24. TAKE UP SPACE! – #UtthitaHastaPadangusthasana – Extended Hand to Big Toe. Take it to the side, to the front, and use that strap!
25. #IWokeUpLikeThis – The rules are simple, just take a photo of that killer bed head. You’re beautiful. Feelin it?
26. MOON ME – #ardhachandrasana – half-moon. It’s one of those poses that makes a lot more sense with some props or a wall to help us find and build strength for this doozy. Modify, prop it up, or just enjoy the tumble and sway and soar!
27. LIFT AND LET GO – #SetuBandhaSarvangasana – Bridge Pose! Supported, legs lifted, or any backbend you love to do! Wheel?
28. FEELIN’ UP! – #Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand variations or any inversion. Legs up the wall or give us that handstand and anything in between.
29. I’M FEELIN MYSELF – What does feeling better look like? Let yourself enjoy YOU. Feel it. Share it.
30. YOU’RE DONE! – #Savasana – Corpse Pose, bring on the knee props and the blankets! Well earned rest after some really awesome work realizing how your yoga makes you feel better in your body.
Restorative Yoga with Samantha Akers
Restorative Yoga; What is it and why should we practice? Cant I just lay down and rest at home?
This is what I asked 17 years ago before taking my first class.
In this busy culture and time that we live in, a restorative practice is more important than ever. Restorative poses support or should support our entire systems; body, mind, spirit and energy. Using props such as bolsters, blocks, blankets, and sandbags (which she will be bringing) we prop the body so that it is completely comfortable in long held, peaceful asana postures.
Our nervous systems are in some state of flight or flight almost all of the time, even when we are resting, we might be anxious or over thinking – leading to a bit of high alert in the body and mind. Restorative yoga is a deliciously relaxing practice. We are supported in each posture for several minutes, while learning to follow their breath with mindfulness techniques.
With in minutes, the nervous system begins to relax, we gain a sense of spacious joy and release. In the workshop, we will be practicing cooling poses, readying the body and mind for the hot summer months. You may find you sleep better, breath better and feel more general positivity, just after one class!
Restorative Yoga healed me, supported me through chronic pain, fibromyalgia and Lymes disease. It is a powerful tool that will kindly and gently support and heal anyone that is ready to melt into themselves and develop friendliness towards their own hearts.
Interested in Restorative Yoga Teacher Training?
Taking a training in this style of yoga is vital for teachers to begin to see where students need that support and how to fill the space so that they can completely relax and let go, nourishing their nervous system into blissful and healing rest. This practice keeps dis-ease as bay, helps with sleep as well as mental disturbances such as anxiety and depression.
We move so very much, we must balance with rest. TheraYoga Method training in this modality will teach practitioners to guide a skilled practice with alignment, breath work and guided meditation. Learning the subtle art to teaching, along with the science of stretching and the fascial system will enhance teachers ability to be in the top of their field of yoga therapy as it is a growing need for our population. Plus, we have so much fun playing with props and learning about one another’s bodies!
Read more about Samatha Akers, her background, her work, and what you will get from her coming 2 hour workshop AND her weekend training at the end of July. – Sign up and ask questions – https://onedowndog.com/events-workshops
Hatha-Dharma Training and Immersion
THINGS TO KNOW – Hatha-Dharma Training and Immersion – April 22-24th 9am-5pm
• You’ll get a manual! About 60 pages. Plus a quick reference page for the things you’ll want to go back to often.
• If you are a teacher, intend to do teacher training, or are currently in a teacher training this will count toward your Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Units.
• A combination of Hatha yoga (what we mostly do at One Down Dog) and Mindfulness meditation, with an opportunity to learn core Buddhist teachings.
• The last day the weekend will consist of a unique “half-day retreat”.
Chris Crotty is one of a handful of teachers in the United States integrating Hatha yoga (asana practice) with mindfulness and Buddhist teachings. His teacher training and immersion for non-teachers – Hatha-Dharma Training – is a popular and accessible opportunity for anyone interested in deepening their yoga practice, or either beginning or refining a meditation practice. You will walk away from this training with a more awareness-based yoga practice. The 3-day weekend culminates in a half-day retreat, providing an opportunity to experience the calm, quiet, and insight available when concentration and mindfulness are balanced.
Whether you are a student or a teacher, this training will help you build upon any previous experience gained through your own lineage and teachers. Hatha-Dharma Training is focused on shining new light onto your current practice; that light in Buddhist terms is the insight that leads to liberating wisdom. That insight changes how you articulate the practice to your students, and how you practice yourself.
Chris says “Yoga today is also part of a larger western culture that is prone toward speed, quick, and often short-term solutions, and an emphasis on external and material means of finding fulfillment and relief from discomfort and distress. Within this widespread cultural trend it has become commonplace to address mental and physical imbalance at the level of its symptoms, rather than at the deeper level of root cause.”
Hatha-Dharma Training will include daily asana practice and meditation practice as well as teacher presentations, reflection, and discussion. In addition to a dedicated chapter just for teachers in the manual, Chris will welcome teachers to join him for lunch during the program to chat about integrating their experience into their own teaching.
To read more, click here Hatha.Dharma.Overview&Intention to download Chris’ introduction and intention statement for the course and send us an email so we can discuss. Take the opportunity to learn from a new teacher – dually training in hatha yoga and Buddhist practice – and shine light in new places in your yoga practice.