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.

Thea’s Morning

Thea Culver stretched and climbed out of bed. “No more musing,” she told herself sternly. “Time to get to work.” The sun was just peeking into her bedroom window over the tops of the mountains and through the huge Sitka spruces in her yard. She knew that meant it would soon be streaming into her studio upstairs. But first she got to enjoy it through the shower window. As she ducked her closely cropped crinkly hair in the gloriously hot stream of water, she thought about all that she was washing away in her life these days.

Gone were the ambitions to be a successful “capital A” Artist…. well, almost gone. The “capital C” Call of her recent move to the coast had been a compelling one. She had come despite the warnings that by going so far from the mainstream both geographically and content-wise, she was throwing her hard earned reputation away. She hated to think how many had cautioned that her galleries in Portland and Seattle would not be interested in this new weird bent she was on.

Gone too was her primary identification with her black community. “It’s mostly alotta white folk out there,” was the gist of the comments from her friends. Her family understood that part of it – much of her mother’s side was Greek and she had grown up in Beaverton. That Portland suburb had a little racial variety but nothing like she had found going to art school in the East or what she had consciously chosen upon returning to Portland twenty years ago. But even her family thought she was headed dangerously over a cliff into woo woo land. How could she explain this strong sense that she needed to explore this deeper side of herself away from familiar territory.

The Call had definitely created a fork in the road. Though terrified, she had nevertheless decided to “take the road less traveled.” How that would show up in her life was still unknown. There was a lot of blank canvas between her and any sort of clear outcome.

She thought of the tarot cards in her basket. The Hanged One – a figure dangling upside down from a tree branch – had been coming up a lot lately in her readings for herself. It was a symbol of changes chosen freely, unlike the Tower that was a painful lightening bolt wakeup zap. One of her books referred to the Hanged One as the Norse God Odin who had friends lower him by his heels into a well where he uncovered the runes. The card was also about a sacrificing of success and power for a communion with the earth. A surrender of the sort that is neither a giving up nor a defeat. She was choosing to take the continuing appearance of this card as a sign that she was on the right path. Sometimes it felt that she had hung herself that drastically as well. It was one thing to paint the watercolor urban landscapes she was known for and which sold well. It was quite another to dive deep into her psyche and pull up images of bleeding vaginas and strangely morphing shamanic power animals, not to mention the change in her palette that made many uncomfortable.

It was no wonder she had been so drawn to the tarot when she first encountered it a few years ago just as her monthly bleeding was coming to a halt around her 50th birthday. It was like the Fates or whoever had given her a gift for the next phase of her life. Looking back, it was clear that it was a gift that had changed everything. She would never forget the Chariot of the MotherPeace deck – the first card she had drawn. There had been that shiver of delight as she recognized the apple tree, Athena with snakey haired Medusa on her shield and Nut, the Egyptian Sky Goddess, arching over. So many symbols she had grown up loving….

“Oops, musing again,” she thought now, feeling guilty about the hot water running down the drain. She was just learning to be conscious of water and energy conservation. “But then ‘a Muse’ and ‘to muse’ is a gift for an artist. It’s precious ruminating time and don’t you forget it.” she lectured herself, chuckling as she noticed the puns. “It can even be ‘amusing!’”

As her new friends here reminded her if they heard her fretting, a shift as big as hers was bound to take a while to get started, much less to gel. “To change gears, you have to go through neutral,” both Ursula and Owen had said more than once. It seemed everyone here was wiser than she was. Yet she had to give herself credit for listening to the Call in the first place – especially with all she had given up of her former life including lover, nice home and her comfy reputation.

“Too comfy. Sometimes a snake has to shed her skin,” she snorted as she put on the bespattered sweats that were her painting outfit in colder weather. “Brr,” she thought now. Fall was definitely here.

Her studio was indeed inviting, if chilly. The little electric heaters were whirring and would soon warm it, as would the sun. It lit up the paintings on the walls and the cutouts pinned all over like a collage gone wild. Some were pretty strange to her and she hadn’t yet figured out why she was drawn to put them up. Looking at the Georgia O’Keefe pelvis print always gave her a shiver as did an older painting of Indians sitting around a campfire, most with their backs to her, their faces lit by the fire. “Should I be thinking of them as Native Americans?” she wondered a little guiltily.

And then there were her own paintings. At first it had been a matter of blind faith to launch into the new mediums of acrylics and oils, avoided since her college days. Now she delighted in the immediacy of one and the smear-ability of the other. Both gave freedom from the carefulness that had kept her previous work pretty tight. She’d avoided putting figures in her other work, but thanks to life drawing classes many years ago, women’s bodies still flowed out of her hands. She wished she’d had more male models back then. But the Chagall postcards she had pinned up with their rough characterizations and dreamlike quality gave her license to push those boundaries in her own work.

Now this new one of an old woman at a spinning wheel…. She kept having the feeling that the woman was under the Mountain somehow or in it. Spinning seaweed? Spinning stories? Thea wondered if there were any native legends about a woman in this Mountain she now lived at the toe of.

What colors would she be wanting on her palette today? Was it a green day or a purples and reds day? Would that weird combination of phthalo green and white come out? It seemed more and more to indicate some wild, uncontrolled magic in the paintings, often showing up when the Pan-like figure did.

Should she smoke a little weed to get herself going? That was a new practice for her too. She had somehow missed most of the drug-laden times of her growing up era, but had recently been drawn to some locally grown that added a deepening to her process. She didn’t smoke every time she painted but some days it was a potent tool. A sacred one that added a sacred dimension to her work. Blessings on California for instigating the conversation about making marijuana legal. Thea found her pipe and stash tucked where she had left it by the paint rags.

Soon, as she looked around, her eyes were drawn to the clutter. Perhaps she should use the rags to clean up a bit. She lovingly polished the empty Damiana liqueur bottle on her altar. The clear glass bottle’s fat, motherly Goddess shape was such a gift to her, as were the ancient stone and clay figures it was based on, especially since her menopausal body (“menopaused?”) was showing signs of a similar shape. Thea rubbed her own belly, then reached for and donned a round large-breasted pendant of turquoise that she’d laid aside on the windowsill the other day. Not for the first time she gloried in the synchronicity of the name her mother had given her. “Thea” meant “goddess!”

She looked over to the corner where a Frieda Kahlo print was propped. She’d found it the other day at the recycling center. Frieda, practically a goddess herself, inspired Thea to be bold and fearless as she delved deep. It had been Frieda’s karma to undergo some serious Tower episodes to reach into herself, portraying her tortured world unflinchingly. Thea was determined that her own healing and search would be more like the Hanged One – no need to have a bus accident to take up the journey she was meant to be part of.

She was about to tackle the cobwebs around her growing collection of feathers, shells and dried flotsam, when she thought of Grandmother Spider, whose season it was. A huge spider had recently taken up residence over her kitchen sink and amazing webs were all over the yard. As a city girl she ought to have been afraid of spiders, but she never had the heart to kill them, though she did usually try to keep their webs at least slightly under control. Today, however, she suddenly made the connection between spiders and Halloween, the witchy time just around the corner. She was learning that they are an inevitable fact of life here in the woods and perhaps she should be honoring them by letting even their webs stay a bit longer. Perhaps that was why cobwebs were a part of Halloween decorations. This time of year it was simply too overwhelming to keep them cleaned out.

The unfinished green painting of the old woman caught her eye again. Is she spinning just like Spider does? Does the silver thread come out of her midsection like that of the Southwest Indian creator goddess? What needed to happen to that painting so that it expressed both The Mountain and the storyteller and Spider?

Grabbing a purple felt tip pen she scrawled the words from an old Judy Collins song:

If somehow you could pack up your sorrows,

And give them all to me.

You would lose them,

I know how to use them.

Give them all to me.

Then selecting B-Tribe on her iPod, Thea settled in to discover what else the painting wanted and what Grandmother Spider had to teach this willing student.