Uri and Ursula Tarot

“Do you have a tarot deck you prefer?” Ursula asked Uri as they settled next to each other on the purple futon in the back room at Bear Essentials. A red Japanese lantern light hung overhead and a Christmas cactus was getting ready to bloom on a little table next to them. A silk banner of the chakras and a poster of Bob Marley graced the two walls without windows. A massage table was folded in its traveling case in the corner.

“I don’t really know much about the Tarot,” admitted the young fey man who had come to connect with Ursula after many promptings from his spirit guides and new human friends.

“Then go ahead and choose a deck, either by looking at them or…. as you are doing,” Ursula chuckled watching Uri let his hand hover over the several decks she had in her basket. He settled on a green bag embroidered with flowers and handed it to her. “The Herbal Tarot,” said Ursula. “Done by respected herbalists, Candis Canton and Michael Tierra, based on the traditional Ryder Waite deck.” It seemed like a fitting choice for this young healer shaman before her.

“It had a glow about it and made my fingers tingle. All good signs that it is the one we should play with today.”

“I think we won’t do a full spread, but rather pull them one by one as our conversation progresses,” said Ursula shuffling the cards. “Do you have a specific question or….?”

“I just wanted us to get to know each other another degree and to see if you had some advice, either through the cards or via your own wisdom and experience, about settling myself into the community.”

Ursula blew on the cards and handed them to Uri. “Shuffle these a bit yourself and then pull one.” She watched as Uri grounded deeply inside himself and the cards seemed to whirr into place with the ‘important’ one on top. He carefully turned it face up.

“Ah, the Magician, numero uno of the Majors, who traditionally has all the elements at hand. See, he has tools for water, earth, air and fire, available to be picked up. A cup, a sword, a wand and a disc or coin with a pentacle, which are also the suit names for this deck. He is connected downward where he’s pointing and upward to the sky. ‘As above, so below,’ as Hermes Trismegistus and the astrologers are fond of saying.”

“What is evidenced in the heavens and what comes through our guidance appears always in earthly form as well,” mused Uri thoughtfully. He noted but did not speak of the crystal ball in the Magician’s upward hand that matched the one he had been gifted just before moving here.

“This version of the Magician certainly looks like an angelic being so it fits your name, Uriel. I would assert that, like you, he has healing hands. Astragalus, the herb the authors chosen for the Magician, increases energy for digestion, both assimilation of actual food and of what you know. As you learn how to use all the tools, you will have new stuff to teach us. It is also helpful for manifestation so I assert this is saying that you will find whatever you need to move forward. I suggest you get some astragalus root for putting into soups. It’s good for the immune system too.”

“That card gives me shivers, said Uri.

“Me too. It’s a powerful card… as are you. Take another one.” She liked the way his hand didn’t hesitate but went straight to one in the middle of the pile. “The King of Pentacles reversed. You need to learn and practice your earthly skills. Medicines, perhaps? Hang out with Owen? This deck, by the way, is a good one for a right-brained approach to learning herbs.”

“I was just thinking I should probably buy it for myself.”

“I have one around here somewhere I can give you that was damaged in shipping and I have a feeling it wants to be yours. Anyway, this King is the master of earth plane stuff. Since the card came up at all, the energy is present but hidden, occluded in some way. I suspect you already know a lot of stuff and have used it some but it hasn’t manifested to its full extent. And to some degree, you don’t know what you know. Plus,” she laughed, “the alfalfa assigned to this card is also about manifestation. Be careful what you wish for. You have some powerful energies lining up for getting what you want.”

Uri nodded with a twinkle in his eye. “I want to pull several cards now. Not sure why.”

“No need to know why. I trust your intuition. I hope you do too.” This last as he looked wryly at her. “Ha! I was wondering about the other  elements. You’ve got two wands for fire and a water card. As the Magician it seemed like you should have all the elements.”

“I wonder if I made that happen. To achieve the balance that I could see was missing and to get clues about my personal Magician’s tools.”

“Of course you did, that’s why I have you pull the cards. It’s your power that’s at work here not mine. I just set the stage and help with the interpretation.”

“Just!” said Uri.

“So there’s your fire – the Four of Wands – fairies playing in the fennel. They kinda look like you. The affirmation for this one,” she said looking at the book, “is ‘I feel greater self-confidence by quietly recognizing my many gifts and accomplishments.’”

“Confidence again, huh?”

“Yup. This one isn’t about a specific tool but more of an assurance that you do have them all at your fingertips. Perhaps not at your command yet,” she smiled, “but you have only to notice and practice – playfully and in a group. So now look at the Two of Wands. Because the young man is holding the globe and looking out over the landscape, I usually I think of this card as someone heading off on a journey. In this case, I’m thinking that he’s looking to see if he’s found home. Of course, I have to be careful with this interpretation because I’m all about recruiting everyone worthy to stay here and play with us…. But if it resonates with you…”

“You know it does.”

“He is a bit of a dandy like you and a fairy too.”

They both laughed and then were silent a moment taking in the gestalt of the cards. Uri spoke next, “The Magician is holding what feels like a celestial orb and this one has the Earth. I wasn’t sure if I should tell you with the first, but now seeing two globes reminds me of the crystal ball I was recently given. Do you know anything about gazing into other times and places?”

Scrying is another word for that. And, no, I’ve never really had any luck with that, nor has anyone else in the Medicine Circles that I know of. Mostly we’ve tried with bowls of water or obsidian. Occasionally fire. So that is something you’ll get to teach us when you’ve had success with it. Uriel is the prophesizing angel after all.”

Uriel looked at her startled. “Hmmm. Stay tuned, I guess I haven’t had the nerve to play with it yet. One more tool.”

“I’m also getting another hit on this card,” said Ursula, “Again don’t take it on if it doesn’t resonate, but he looks like he’s from another time, and that he’s looking at the earth to see where to land….”

“Funny you should mention that. I often have a feeling of being from somewhere else.… the stars…. and some-when else. Maybe even the future? Come to help the Earth’s people…. ourselves… transition to something different…..”

“I see…. Not quite of this world and with huge energy, power and magical gifts hidden just beneath the surface. Like you’ve brought them with you and now is the time to discover them. I am honored to be helping you with that process.”

He took a deep breath and a tear ran down his cheek. “Thank you for hearing me. I can’t say that to very many people.”

“I suspect more of us than we have any idea have landed here on Earth and in this particular spot like you have. All of us even? Coming from the future would mean that we have already experienced the changes and it’s up to us to see that they happen. Think of all those science fiction books about going back in time and changing something. It’s going to be velly intelesting as our sense of bringing the future into the present come to light more and more.”

“But why, oh why can’t we remember? Why do we have to dig so deeply to uncover it all??”

“It’s completely frustrating, isn’t it? Perhaps at first to protect us from the muggles of the world we are born into – my generation certainly. And also because we have to build it – not just wave our magic wands (though they help) but to build it ‘inch by inch, row by row…’” She sang the last part. “All of us…. Together…”

They looked at each other and leaned over to hug, both in tears now.

“Okay,” Ursula said briskly, fishing the Kleenex box from under the little table. “We haven’t looked yet at the water card. Knight of Cups. Another interesting looking young man. As we’ve already discerned, you have many guises, Uriel. A magician indeed. Here you have wings on your hat and an exotic an old-fashioned drink…. A potion? I’m not clear about this card. The watery element for you is a mystery for me. Let’s look in the book for this one…. Ah, ‘the airy aspect of water.’ That fits. ‘A messenger of the Gods….’ Check. ‘In pursuit of a dream…’ Check. ‘He is on a tireless search for identity in relation to another…. Sarsaparilla symbolizes purification of emotions…. ‘ How’s your relationship to Michael? If I may be so bold as to ask.”

“Challenging,” responded Uri. “We’re on very different planes about all this stuff. I certainly can’t talk to him about coming from other worlds and times, but I keep hoping that something will shift once he’s settled into this demanding new job and gets to know you all from your woo woo perspective. I’m so glad he’s working with Charley so some is bound to rub off on him – it won’t just be weirdness coming from me…. The good thing is that we both feel very HOME. He, of course, cause he grew up here, but me too. I feel like I’ve found my tribe.”

“The Inca and many others in their prophecies talk about the fact that much of this age’s advances will be made in groups, that it cannot be done solo anymore. There may still be some hermits to help hold the space but mostly it’s now about communing and self-discovery with others. What’s more that it needs to be done as part of a lineage within a village. We have a rudimentary foundation for that both with folks like Owen’s and Michael’s families who have been here a long time, as well as the hints we’ve been getting about connecting with the Mountain and the native Old Ones. But mostly I’m thinking it’s about building the legacy for our descendants…..”

“Ursula, I am suddenly seeing you and I as Old Ones who have come to Earth other times. Not here, but to the Inca…. Stones. Huge stones. And those red woolen caps pulled down over forehead and ears….. Also as Pueblo Indians…. rattles and drums and mountains…. We know about this stuff…. We come here to create council fires…. So did others but I can’t see their faces. I hope Michael’s is among them…. I’m to help connect us to our missions here…..”

“Oh Uri, I’m so glad you’ve finally gotten here,” said Ursula. “Welcome home.”

“Me too.” They hugged again.

“I want to take a card from a different deck,” Uri said picking up the new Gaian Tarot from Joanna Powell Colbert. The figures in this deck were from real people, exquisitely painted. After a quick shuffle, Uri pulled the Seven of Air from the middle of the pack. “There’s the Air card I was missing. That’s me looking at the map, isn’t it? Trying to learn the territory. Michael has one map and it’s useful to me. You have one with other pertinent details for me, but I must still find my own way across the valley to the peak.”

“Yup, but how ‘bout this for starters. Would you like to use this room to begin your shamanic healing practice? It’s been the starting place for several of the healers in the area.”

“Really? Oh, Ursula. You read my mind. I was wondering how I was going to find a space. This would be effortless.”

“And would you like to meet with Raphael Turner, the MD up at the clinic who is interested in combining forces with alternative healers?”

“Would I?! That would be incredible. Kind of scary though.”

“Now don’t start that. There are others who want to get together with him as well. I think it’s time to follow up on that thread… One more card for all of us, for the Tribe…”

Uri pulled The Tree.

“Of course. Usually called the Hanged One, it’s about choosing to have ourselves hung upside down from the Tree of Life. Thus we are dangled into challenging situations in order to discover ourselves. Even with the forgetting and other struggles, we do our light work with diligence…on the good days….”

“Onward,” said Uri.

“Hey, that’s my line,” teased Ursula, “But you can use it as much as you want with my blessings….”

They bowed to each other with hands at their hearts in Namaste and began to talk logistics of Uri taking up a working residence at Bear Essentials.

Young People Woo Woo

03-2 This is what Peace looks Like

This is What Peace Looks Like, 2003

“Cali, there’s like a poster in the bathroom about a class you mom is starting next week.” Skinny decaf soy latte in hand in a new metal traveling mug, Mariposa joined the group of sustainability interns and local young people lolling on the outside terrace at Angel’s on a balmy fall day. It was midweek so some had the day off. The brightly painted tables and chairs set off the many hues of their clothing. Battered backpacks and bikes were perched around them. And one baby asleep in her papa’s front pack.

“Yeah, she says it’s time to pass on what she and the Medicine Circles have been playing with. Rhea’s going.”

“I’m thinking of signing up,” ventured Janna.

“Seriously? Is there is anything to all that fuckin’ woo woo shit?” asked Gabe, still boggled by his recent talk with Molly.

“I grew up with it,” said Cali. “Mom says the questions us kids asked helped her grok the Earth as something to worship, though she never uses that word. Am I hardcore about organic cuz it’s right for the soil and my body or b’cuz I’ve learned to sense the living being named Gaia? I guess that makes me pagan.”

“The Earth Goddess is Pachamama in South American,” said Robin. “She’s very real to me ever since my exchange student stint in Peru.”

“Dad claims the ocean is his church,” added Cali.

“I like thinking of it as a mystery,” said Carlos.

“It was kinda scary when my folks first got into all that,” said Robin Logan, thinking of her teenage embarrassment at Owen’s first appearances as the Green Man in the 4th of July Parade. “I thought we’d be called weirdos.”

“Seemed like a natural progression to me,” said Arlo. “They already made fun of us. Called us hippies. Granola eaters.”

“Birkenstockers,” added Carlos.

“We were hardly the only ones smoking weed,” Arlo reminded them miming that action.

“I get the connection with Earth, but like Tarot cards and ritual? Magic? Seems like wishful thinking,” blurted Mariposa.

“Mom says she chooses to live as if it’s true – you know, reincarnation, psychic connections and dreams.

“Ursula claims she doesn’t have the direct 3-D connection some do,” said Carlos. “She takes it pretty much on faith. Says it makes her happy. Now June…. She’s a counselor and healer. Doesn’t go to many group things. Ever talk to her? She’s pretty hard-core…. In a very gentle way.”

“Some of the massage therapists are dreamers and seers and channelers – generally kind of out there,” agreed Robin.

“But Ursula actually calls herself a fuckin’ witch,” persisted Gabe.

“Yeah, she declared herself one years ago. Had a bunch of people over one time when we weren’t home and they ceremoniously cleansed her and painted her body. I’ve seen the pictures. She wanted to reclaim that word – do her part to take the bad juju out of it. Not many others in the Medicine Groups use the term ‘witch.’ None of them are Wiccan. That’s more organized like a religion. She says “shaman” feels way above her, but “witch” just means a wisewoman in the woods.”

“Right on,” said Janna.

“June and Celeste are part of a Crone Circle,” said Carlos. “They want to reclaim the “crone” and “hag” words too.”

“Medicine Groups?” asked Zydeco who had just walked up.

“Men and women together, alternating with men and women separately, get together on Friday evenings. Sometimes the gatherings are closed to outsiders to develop intimacy and trust,” said Cali, reaching over to unstrap Menolly who was beginning to stir. “Sometimes, like now, they are open to whoever wants to come. There is a core – most of whom you can guess, who hold the space and come up with the activities.”

“And they do what?”

“Don’t really know, man,” said Carlos watching fondly as Cali pulled down her sundress top to put Menolly to her breast. “Practice healing and visioning? General woo woo? Plan the more public rituals.”

“Oh, you’ve been to a few,” teased his partner. “And so have most of us.”

“Is it possible for Tarot, like, actually predict the future?” asked Mariposa.

“It’s more about focusing in on the present. I don’t see the future as written in stone – as inevitable in any way. There’s always free will. Divination is more about considering what comes up in the cards, coins or yarrow sticks or whatever to see the threads and what might come to pass if current patterns play themselves out. They show me the challenges I’m dancing with and where I can make adjustments if I don’t like what’s taking shape.”

“But what decides what cards get drawn?”

“‘Magic. Spirit. Your Higher Self. Your guides. If you don’t have a concept of The Greater Mystery then you have to apply ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ You have to say, ‘I’m going to trust that the cards I pull have some meaning in my life. I’m going to notice them at least and think about what comes up.’ The images are powerful archetypes that work at a subtle level.”

“Maybe you should be teaching the class, Cali. You sound like you know a lot.”

“Maybe more than I think I do, eh?”

Thea’s Green Egg Painting

Ova

“Tell me about this one,” Ursula said, pointing to a painting in Thea’s cozy living room where they’d been having tea. Thea rotated her paintings often and this was one she’d never seen before..

“Ummm. That one is still something of a mystery,” said Thea, hands on her hips. She stared at it for a few breaths. “It was a breakthrough painting.”

“Is it new?” asked Ursula.

“No. I did it in a fit last year when it was pointed out to me that I was busy telling myself the story of each painting like I already knew what everything symbolized. Or thought I did,” she added ruefully. “What was the point of all this exploratory painting if I had a pat answer for all my own questions, even if they only turned up as I painted.”

“What made you take the leap in the first place away from your accustomed style?”

“That was an earlier stage. I often tell people it was because I was bored, but I’m realizing that’s not quite right. I knew there was something more I craved than that standard kind of beauty. Beauty was part of it, sure. But I wanted to know more about myself, rather than the outward landscape of the world. I needed to jump off the proverbial cliff. Be The Fool. The tarot deck I had just bought made me realize that there was a whole level of my psyche I hadn’t been able…. willing?…. to explore.”

“I know how that feels,” said Ursula. “That realization was what made me leave my church. Charley and I took up meditation with a teacher for a while, but then I felt like even meditating in an organized way was keeping me in too much of a box. Charley still gets a lot out of it. I started doing ritual when Stella came to town and wanted to start a women’s spirituality group. Everything evolved from there. But how did you make the leap?”

“I think for some people it’s important to switch creative realms entirely. Garden instead of paint. Write. Sculpt. Learn bodywork. For me it seemed to be enough to switch mediums. Using acrylics and oils loosened me up, made me forget all the rules I’d internalized…. most of the time.” She smiled, remembering the occasions she had been called out on that one. “I took a Process Painting class where the instructor would say, ‘Why not use a startling color that makes you uncomfortable?’ or ‘Which is more important? A piece of paper or your life?’ That one really got me cause I realized that what the end product looked like actually had become all-important. That, and…. What. People. Thought. Of. Me.”  She emphasized each word realizing as she spoke how very important that had been to her. Still was, if she was honest with herself.

“In another class we painted with a question for three hours and then spent three hours discussing the work. Not as capital ‘A’ Art. I had plenty of that in school and it doesn’t interest me any more. Rather we talked about the paintings from the point of view of the psyche. The teacher was sort of a Jungian with art therapy training. She also was pretty darn psychic. This painting came out of a question she fired at me one day…. a challenge really. She told me to do a painting I didn’t understand. Boy, did I squirm with that one.”

“And this is the painting?”

“Yep. I did it with my left hand to try letting go of my thinking self. Sometimes it seems like I need to just cut off my head. There’s a painting of that too.”

“Is that a woman’s torso?” asked Ursula.

“I’ve always thought so. See how her legs sort of sprawl there? I think that’s a paintbrush dangling near where her knees would be. I’ve done a lot of figures since that have a paintbrush.”

Bear & I Birthing Each Other“Yes, like the Bear one upstairs,” Ursula always noticed things with her beloved Bear on them. “Looks like you at least left out the head in this painting. I certainly don’t see one.” They both laughed at Ursula’s observation.

“Yes, like the Bear one in your studio upstairs.” Ursula always noticed anything involving her beloved Bear. “Looks like you at least left out the head in this painting. I certainly don’t see one.” They both laughed at Ursula’s observation.

“After it was done I cried and cried whenever I looked at it so I knew it was important.”

“Does it still make you cry?”

“Not really. Now I feel frustrated cause I still don’t get what that swirl is.” Thea hoped she didn’t sound like she was whining. This was an on-going question for her and the reason she had put the painting back up.

“Isn’t it on her belly?”

“Sort of. But it could also be her boobs or her…. cunt.” She spoke the forbidden word hesitantly. “I don’t get what it’s telling me. I’m still waiting for one of those ‘brief glimpses of the blindingly obvious.’”

“Shall we draw a tarot card about it?” asked Ursula.

“What a great idea.” Thea reached towards the shelf behind the couch for the brown decorated bag that held the round MotherPeace cards. She handed them to Ursula who sat down on the floor and spread them out to mix them up. “My old friends.”

The golden swirls on the floor were beautiful and enticing. Thea’s hand hovered above them and then dove for a card. She hooted as she laid it face up in front of them.

“Daughter of Discs. I consider this the vision quest card. Duh – tell me something I don’t know.”

“Good call – it’s exactly the situation you are in. Discovering yourself, pulling yourself away from your normal world. In this card it’s a desert scene but our coastal temperate rainforest is every bit as challenging for you. Like in the card, you’ve drawn a proverbial circle of stones around yourself for your questing and you’re holding up your staff to the light. Perhaps even attracting celestial help of some sort….”

“My pipe in hand. You know I smoke pot sometimes to be in ceremony and to deepen the paintings.”

“I’m doing that more these days than I used to. Take another card.”

This time Thea drew the Priestess of Wands. A strong looking naked black woman, dreads flying, had her hand on a lioness whose head nestled into her lap. A rainbow arced between the sun and a pot of gold tucked in the rocks.

“Bravo, she’s got all her tools and allies,” said Ursula.

“I don’t know what that odd instrument is in her hand but I’m declaring it a paint brush,” said Thea. “Is that a lizard next to her or a salamander?”

“Hard to say, but if we’re talking about our ecosystem it’s more likely to be the bog-loving salamander or a newt. I’d keep an eye out for them and a feline ally. Maybe it’s Gato here or maybe something bigger. The flowering plant is witch hazel. Take one more. It would be cool to get a definitive answer.”

“Ha! It’s the pregnant belly one.

“Joke’s on us. Should have known we’d get a card describing the situation rather than a foretelling.”

“One can always hope.”

“This 7 of Discs tells us again that something is ‘aborning.’ Again like the Bear painting upstairs. You are on a quest, you’ve got your tools, but it’s still gestating. Like those fat juicy melons around her. You know, all these women are naked. Like your paintings. Brown too. I’m getting from this and from your paintings that your body is your teacher – perhaps there is something inside there. Can you go on a cosmic treasure hunt to find out what is being birthed?”

“That’s exactly what my painting journey is. A cosmic treasure hunt. The gestating of a seed…. I just wish I knew what that seed was.”

“Maybe that’s what your painting up there is about…. See that green in the roundness of the belly?”

“A seed! You’re right. A green seed…. or an egg which is a kind of seed….” Thea felt that lovely buzz of a revelation resonating deep in her core.

“There are folks here who could help you with the search for details. Owen does Soul Retrievals. That’s a shamanic process where he ‘journeys’” Ursula raised her fingers to indicate quotes, “to find parts of yourself that were lost in your childhood. He doesn’t do sessions often but I think he’s really good and should be doing more. Could do more. I don’t want to ‘should’ all over him.” Ursula smiled. “Also June‘s sand tray counseling process. Her office has a delightful room full of miniature figures – everything from trees to monsters to princesses to crystals. You use them to make scenes in a small sandbox and then talk about what is showing up there – not unlike your painting process. You can interact with it as part of the quest – bury the wicked stepmother, select an animal to befriend you, light a candle for a prayer. The possibilities are endless. I never tire of it and always learn something new, whether on my own, with Charley as marriage counseling, or even in a group.”

“I’ve heard of both of these processes. Sounds like good next steps since I don’t have a painting group. Though sometimes I think maybe I should start one…. or teach a class….”

“There’s work to be done in company and work to be done alone. That Priestess of Wands card tells me you’ll know. Have fun.”