First published in Carolyn's blog, Art of Change Tarot, 5/12/10. Used with permission.
(Joanna's note: I love Carolyn's work and was particularly taken with the spread she created based on the herbal allies in the Gaian Teacher (Hierophant) card. So I wanted to share it with you. Carolyn will be the guest teacher on the July 7th teleseminar in the Gaian Tarot Circle.)
I wondered while gazing upon the Gaian Teacher about what questions the plants pictured might ask us if we could understand their language. I looked at Joanna’s companion book and my own herb books to see their properties as well as drew to mind my experience with these plants. I felt that each plant offered questions to aid us in healing as well as developing self-knowledge and mindfulness.
Dandelion: We modern humans with lawns are always trying to uproot this plant that has wonderful nourishing qualities and bright sunny flowers. Despite knowing this, I uprooted a few the other day because they had wandered into my Hosta area! So what wisdom does the dandelion have for us and what questions might it ask:
- Self-Knowledge: What part of me is tenacious and steadfast no matter what confronts me? What am I trying to remove from my life that might actually be helpful to me?
- Mindfulness: Where is there simple happiness in my life that I need to pay more attention to?
- Healing: How can I nourish myself after challenging times? How can I keep hope alive within my soul?
Garlic: I love the tangy strength of garlic and feel a surge of good health after a meal cooked with its pungent cloves. Joanna points out that the many layers of the garlic can be seen as a metaphor for the unfolding cosmos.
- Self-Knowledge: What can help me to put my current life challenges into larger perspective? What stinks in my life right now, but might be making me stronger for the long haul? What is at the hidden center of myself that can give me strength to face the challenges of life?
- Mindfulness: What area of my life needs strong and focused attention right now?
- Healing: how can I build up the strength to take on the next challenge of my emotional (or spiritual, or physical, etc) healing?
Nettles: Their outside stingers on leaves and stems guard highly nutritious food and its fibers make strong rope, clothing, and fish nets. Always handle the nettles wearing gloves!
- Self-Knowledge: If I look beyond my current crankiness, what gifts are being developed below the surface? If I’ve been prickly with people lately, how can I look into the source of this prickliness and bring forth something for the greater good? What can I tie more tightly into the fabric of my life to realize my desires?
- Mindfulness: What do I need to handle with care right now?
- Healing: What aspect of my current situation needs to be neutralized so I get through to the gifts?
Comfrey: This plant is also know as All Heal and offers great benefits to bones and muscles. Joanna reports that it is reputed to bring safety while traveling.
- Self-Knoweldge: Right now what is providing the strongest structure in my life?
- Mindfulness: What do I need to pay attention to ensure my safety as I travel through my day?
- Healing: What’s broken in my life right now and demands my attention for healing? What can I do that will provide me with the most important healing in my life right now?
Yarrow: I have yarrow in my yard and love the strong, flat flowers. It is potent against infection, reduces fevers, and staunches the flow of blood from deep cuts. Joanna reminds us that the sticks of the I-Ching are made from yarrow and it is thus connected with divination as well as love and courage.
- Self-Knowledge: Where is my life is my energy bleeding away? How can I staunch the flow?
- Mindfulness: What should I pay attention to at this time to gain greater connection to the Divine?
- Healing: How can I “cool down” from feeling “burnt out” or working at a “fevered pitch?” What can I do to prevent a small annoyance in my life from growing and “infecting” my whole life?
Wow, these little plants offer us many deep questions for living in times of change.
You can combine these questions into a spread that has a theme. I, for example, put together aFive Green Allies for Self-Knowledge Spread. I, of course, used the Gaian Tarot cards with this spread.
Yarrow: Where in my life is my energy bleeding away right now?
1, The Magician. I am feeling the bubblings of lots of creative ideas, but have not found time to give them form. Yarrow points out that I need to honor and harness this energy. (And get back to this blog!)
Comfrey: Right now what is giving me the most structure in my life?
21, Gaia! I have gotten back to my daily walks and connecting with nature. This is an important and inspiring structure to my day. I’ll keep it up!
Nettles: If you look beyond your current crankiness, what is being developed below the surface?
Elder of Water: I have been acknowledging and letting surface my more negative emotions and impatience. As I am better able to see, accept, and work with these in myself, I will have more compassion for others and pass on tools to them for their own self-acceptance.
Garlic: What can help me put my current life challenges into larger perspective?
Three of Earth: I saw the women in this card working at their craft joyfully and it reminded me that I need to return to a project I’ve put on the self for a while. I’ve been shaping some of the writings from Swimme and Barry’s Universe Story into meditations. By returning to this project I would be honing my writing craft and getting about the largest perspective there is: the whole universe!
Dandelion: What am I trying to remove from my life right now that actually might be beneficial?
Four of Earth: Hmm, I think I need to keep being careful with and saving my money. I’d been doing that for a long time and then went on a little spending spree (at the Readers Studio, on Tarot things!), but perhaps its time to return to the squirrel’s practice of storing up my riches.
You might try this spread yourself or perhaps create a Healing or Mindfulness Spread with the questions above. Or you might try your own innovations. Let me know how it goes! (You can email Carolyn at: carolyn AT artofchangetarot DOT com.)