Many Witches have a "favorite" divination tool, the one that they reach for regularly. For me, that's tarot, which is odd, given my almost complete lack of what are generally called "right-brained" skills. But almost from the first Rider Waite deck I bought and began to work with (which consistently, for years, showed me the 5 of Pents, the 9 of Pents, and the Chariot, until I acted on the message), the cards tell me the truth in a way that I can understand.
I own a couple (fewer than ten) tarot decks. I think that I realized early on that if I weren't careful, I'd be about tarot decks the way that I am about books or Hermes. And so I frequently see a deck that I'd like, get ready to buy it, and then invoke Fire, exercise my "Capital-W-Will," and tell myself, "No." (An even half-way-reasonably priced Greenwood Tarot deck, will, I freely admit, make me break my own rule, but I've yet to find one of those. And I sprung for the iPhone Goddess Tarot "app" (I'm an old woman, but I am so hip), which I find to be incredibly precise and predictive. And, you know, always in your pocket.)
However, I'm definitely planning to make an exception this Fall when Joanna Colbert's Gaian Tarot deck comes out. The imagery is just too beautiful and the cards are just too full of meaning. I've really enjoyed following the creation of the deck on Joanna's blog. Now, Joanna is presenting a series of videos that explain the deck. It's as if you could dial Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Waite up on YouTube. (OK, I'm revealing my age. It's as if you could click on Colman Smith and Waite on YouTube. Or pull them up on your Blackberry.)
I was particularly impressed to hear her discussion of how her spiritual practice deepened over the years, as she prepared to create the Gaian Tarot deck. Starhawk once said something like: "the Earth is our sacred text, like the Bible, or the Koran, or the Torah, and most of us are illiterate in it. Well, I really took that to heart. And it was about this time that I moved to a small island. I began to spend a lot more time outside than I ever had before. I enrolled in a course where I could learn wilderness awareness techniques and I started studying the native plants and the birds in the place where I live[d] and I just fell absolutely and completely in love with the place where I was living."
I think that for many of us, and I include myself here, more or less, we love the Earth the way that illiterate medieval serfs loved the illuminated texts of the xian Gospels that they were allowed to see, maybe, a few times a year lifted up at Mass on the high holy days. That devotion can be intense and lovely and meaningful, but there is something deeper. There is the relationship that the learned monks who illustrated the texts had for their holy book. There is the relationship that comes from actually spending time with your beloved and learning all that can be learned about Her. There's the devotion that comes from reading, and re-reading, and spending time really considering the meaning of the text, from reading not just the text, but also the commentaries, the concordances, the Talmud.
What would that kind of thirst for deep literacy of the Earth look like? What does it look life in your own life, in your own landbase, in March 2010? What does it look like in urban areas, which is where most Pagans (irony of etymology) live today? What does it look like in areas beset by global climate change? What would you have to give up to acquire that literacy? What would you gain?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."