The Power of the Earth

March 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Four of Stones

I am beginning to feel that the questions I ask the universe are mere formalities. A question can open a dialogue, but the reply isn’t always about the same subject.

In the middle of 3-cards I drew today was the Four of Stones – the Power of the Earth. The question I asked was about an immediate problem and I interpreted them accordingly. Later, I looked the cards up in Rachel Pollack’s books. I always do this for any reading I do with the Haindl – partly to jog my memory but also as a form of bibliomancy. Sometimes I find another aspect to the reading this way.

As I read about the 4 of Stones, these phrases sprung out at me:

…if we understand our fears we can overcome them

…with most people living in cities, the Earth seems less fearsome

…and understood their own place in the world

…tell us to…find our own place

Reversed, the Four of Stones indicates losing a sense of place…

…does not know where she or he fits…

When some conqueror…forced them to relocate, they became lost.

All of which probably won’t mean much to you, until I tell you that we’re in the process of moving house. Which, by the way, has nothing to do with the question I asked.

We have yet to find somewhere we want to live but this week the couple buying our house have found a first-time buyer for theirs, so the pressure is on. We are planning to move from the “city” (it’s technically a large town), to the sticks. I won’t deny I’m a little anxious. (Excited, yes, of course, but the thing I’m excited about still appears so distant that anxiety trumps it, no problem.)

…it describes thunder as a great shock…people become terrified…yet in summer a thunderstorm can also bring joy

As well as describing the situation, the book suggests solutions:

The background for the Four of Stones comes from the same painting as the Seven of Wands [Courage] and the Ten of Cups [Success].

The card calls us to respect the sources of power in our lives.

We have lived here a long time. It is familiar and safe, and although we want to start a new life somewhere else, it takes a ridiculous amount of courage to do so. The last line I quoted suggests recognising the other things in my life that make me feel familiar and safe – most of which I will be taking with me when we move. And when we get there, the power of the earth – nature, wildlife, the seasons and the stars – will provide me with a familiar background against which to build our new life.

Spider Woman

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mother of Stones in the West

Who is Spider Woman? This is what I see when I look at her.

She is old. The lines on her face are deepened by the labyrinth etched across it. She has endured hard winters. She squints in sunlight. She stays in the shade.

She is still, unmoving. The landscape changes around her. Seasons come and go. Children grow up, fall in love and bear their own children, but she changes not. She is beetle-bodied, a small head on a round torso. When she moves, she moves slowly.

She is silent. For her, words have no use. She listens, she nods, she says nothing. Even her thoughts are wordless. Much can be learned from the wind, from the running of a lizard, from the earth itself as it moves. Her expression is inscrutable. She gives nothing away.

She weaves and cooks. She feeds and clothes. She tends sickness. She knows how to do all these things. She does them silently, without sympathy or emotion.

She sees all. The labyrinth extends from her eyes, ears, and nose like a spider’s web. She senses everything that happens as a spider feels every vibration on a thread. She has lived a long time. She has experienced thousands of days, hundreds of years. Nothing shakes her.

She is the centre, the hearthstone, the matriarch, the source. Through her, all her people are connected. Brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, generation after generation, she is the grandmother of them all.

For her, every day begins when the sun rises and ends when it sets. For her, every day is the same. For her, this is life. Breathing the same air as the coyotes and the eagles. Walking the same earth as the ants. Letting the animal of her body live in the world.

The Daughters

April 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

The Daughters in the Haindl Tarot roughly relate to the Pages in more traditional Tarot decks. (Although really I think it’s a mistake to try and make the Haindl court cards fit into the standard court card template – they don’t take well to being pigeon-holed.)

Pages are sometimes thought of as messengers and this made me wonder about the Daughters and what messages they bring me.

Radha, the Daughter of Wands, shows me how to enjoy life. She tells me to play, dance, laugh, and love – to appreciate beauty and music and art in all its forms. She reminds me that life is something to be enjoyed.

Brigid, the Daughter of Cups, shows me that I am part of something much bigger than myself – something that existed before I was born and that will keep on after I die. She reminds me to honour the connection with my past, my ancestors, and the places I come from. She tells me to care for and celebrate my family and cultural ties.

The Daughter of Swords, Isis, shows me how to learn and to listen. Learning isn’t something that just happens in formal education – it’s something that we do every day, every time we meet a new person or find ourselves in a new situation. Isis tells me to be open, honest and humble, and to remember that everyone can teach me something.

White Buffalo Woman, the Daughter of Stones, tells me how to value my material possessions and to see them not just as possessions but as gifts that help me live my life. She teaches me that it’s not just sacred items that should be cherished, but everything I have, from the shoes that protect my feet to the house that shelters my family. She makes me want to get rid of everything I have that I don’t value.

Court Card Keywords

April 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

A little while back, I was browsing an old Aeclectic Tarot Forum thread about the Haindl and found a list of keywords for the court cards that had been posted by Lee Bursten. These keywords are actually taken from the Quest Tarot, which is based on the Haindl, but I think they work very well with the Haindl cards themselves.

I love the court cards in the Haindl, I think they’re the best part of the deck. However, it does take a bit of effort to get to know them which is why these keywords are so helpful. Here they are:

Mother of Wands: CREATOR. Untamed energy.
Father of Wands: INTELLECT. Keeper of tradition.
Daughter of Wands: LUXURY. Sensual creativity.
Son of Wands: CHARISMA. Sensual hero.

Mother of Cups: MOTHERHOOD. Oldest truths.
Father of Cups: FATHERHOOD. Sacrifice for knowledge; harsh authority.
Daughter of Cups: CONNECTION. Keeping alive the inner flame.
Son of Cups: SEEKER. Courage to act responsibly.

Mother of Swords: MYSTERY. Gentle protectiveness, with something held back.
Father of Swords: LEADERSHIP. Harsh, fair analysis.
Daughter of Swords: CONFIDENCE. Dedication.
Son of Swords: FAIRNESS. Compassion.

Mother of Stones: PERCEPTION. Serene creativity.
Father of Stones: GUARDIAN. Quiet helper.
Daughter of Stones: POSSIBILITIES. Explaining the sacred in daily life.
Son of Stones: ADVOCATE. Articulating ideals.

Splitting Apart

April 19, 2009 § 2 Comments

5 of Stones – Material Difficulty


On Sunday, I drew a card as guidance for this week. I knew it would be a difficult week so I was saddened to draw the 5 of Stones. A member of my immediate family is ill and is having to undergo tests. In this card, I saw my feelings of despair and helplessness reflected back at me.

Like the 3 of Swords, the 5 of Stones is another card that manages to convey both suffering and beauty. The image shows a winter scene, with deep shadows plotting to overthrow the weak sunlight. The trees are gnarled; their bare branches reduced to frail skeletons. The ground is dry and pitted. Five stones rise weightlessly and disconcertingly into the air. Solidity and security have forsaken us: even gravity can’t be relied upon.

The keyword for this card is Material Difficulty. Winter is frequently associated with hardship. In winter, as in periods of hardship, life is reduced to the bare bones. All the rich and diverse pursuits that occupy us in better times seem frivolous and empty; all that matters is survival. But this card doesn’t just concern questions of life or death – there are many difficult things that we need to survive. “If I can just get through this,” we say, “everything will be okay”. 

The hexagram is 23, “Deterioration” or “Splitting Apart”. It can take an upset in only one part of life to feel that everything is falling apart. It’s a feeling that things are outside of our control; suddenly the future is uncertain (it always was of course, but we can happily ignore that when times are good). Everything gets turned on its head: nothing is where it should be, or so it seems.

Hilary Barrett of Online Clarity calls the hexagram “Stripping Away” and says this about it:

“Everything outworn – every image, idea, possession, protection – must go. Even if it feels like your skin. Then the space will be cleared.”

As far as I can tell, not being an I Ching scholar, the hexagram represents a necessary time of material difficulty. It advises against taking action. Rather, the emphasis is on allowing the loss to take place – to be willing to let go of something so that something else can fill its place. This is not something I want to hear right now. But, it is important to remember that I did not consult the I Ching – I consulted the Haindl Tarot. The hexagrams can add depth to a reading, but they are not the reading. In this case, I find comfort in the message of allowing this situation to happen (as if I have a choice!). As Rachel Pollack writes in one of the Haindl companion books (I forget which one):

“Now is the time for acceptance, and waiting.”

Five is an odd, unstable number. It signifies a time of revolution. Everything is up in the air, but what goes up must come down. Gravity will reassert itself eventually and the stones will fall to the ground, their proper place, albeit possibly in a new configuration. Knowing that spring follows winter allows us to endure all the hardships winter throws at us. In the same way, knowing that we also face such hardships in our personal lives from time to time, and that those hardships are unavoidable yet temporary, allows us to keep moving through the landscape shown in the 5 of Stones.

Remember the RWS 5 of Pentacles? The huddled figures keep on moving, despite their handicaps, because to stop moving would be to give up all hope. In the Haindl 5 of Stones, the pure white bird feather that reaches down from the sky suggests some kind of comforting message from the divine, much like the RWS’s stained glass window. It tells us that everything will be all right, no matter how bleak it is in the present. And at the right edge of the card, a warm red glow hints at better times ahead.

Daily Draw – Ace of Stones

November 14, 2008 § Leave a comment


My card today is the Ace of Stones in the West. It’s a very simple and deeply spiritual image that, for me, really sums up the philosophy of the suit of stones as a whole. The card is dominated by a large, perfectly round stone – in itself, an unusual find in the natural world. An eagle descends to land on the stone. Beyond, a rainbow traces the curved outline of the stone in a blue sky.

Rachel Pollack writes that Haindl painted the eagle to represent Watan-Tanka. As I understand it, to the Lakota people, Watan-Tanka is the creator, god and great mystery of all there is. As I was trying to find out more about Watan-Tanka online (not an easy task) I came across this quote, which seemed appropriate for the card:

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….

“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

– Attributed to Black Elk Oglala Sioux Holy Man (1863-1950), found here.

The eagle coming down to touch the stone is like the spirit or the divine blessing the material world. This is why the Haindl Tarot is the only deck in which the earth suit is my favourite suit – because it closely links the everyday world of work, money, shelter, food, clothing, and the physical body with our spiritual wellbeing, instead of seeing the two as separate and incompatible.

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