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My Turn -- Reader Contribution
by Quedishtu

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Lammas 2004, Vol 3-4
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
High Priestess Card, Rider-Waite deck, (c) U.S. Games Systems, used with permission.
High Priestess,
Rider-Waite Tarot DeckR, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited.
Tarot and the Affirmation of Women's Spirituality

Tarot cards are most often used in readings that incorporate the images on the cards with the position of each card in a predetermined layout to offer insight into a question or situation. Another use of the cards is to illustrate (in both the common sense of "add pictures to" and the literal meaning of "to make bright") texts that have deep spiritual or esoteric meaning. I first saw the cards used in this way at a Reclaiming Witchcamp to illustrate the Charge of the Goddess, and it inspired me to attempt a similar "spread" to illustrate the Affirmation of Women's Spirituality.

The Affirmation of Women's Spirituality was written in 1970 by Jade, and reflects the core values on which the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess was founded. There are exactly twenty-one lines to the Affirmation, and I have given each line a corresponding card of the Major Arcana from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. The Major Arcana of this deck incorporate layers of esoteric symbolism and meaning, and the figures on the cards offer archetypal images that can speak to the deepest and most meaningful aspects of our lives and our selves.

Here are the correspondences that revealed themselves to me.

AFFIRMATION OF WOMEN'S SPIRITUALITY

THERE IS ONE CIRCLE OF WOMEN'S ENERGY, AND I AM PART OF THIS ENERGY: The World
I dance inside the circle of life, an infinitely repeating cycle with no beginning and no end. Energy spirals through and around me, and with my will and clear intent I join in its rhythms. Outside the circle the Guardians watch, their elemental powers feeding energy towards the center.

IT IS MINE TO DIRECT: The Chariot
At my feet lie the Mysteries of Life and Death, awaiting my command to rise and move. My head and shoulders are adorned with symbols of magic and divination, sources of inspiration and wisdom. I am armored, shielded, well-prepared and in charge. The wand, symbol of will, is my only tool. The energy I harness is ancient beyond imagining.

I WISH TO DIRECT MY ENERGY:
TO KNOW

That I can create my own reality and that sending out a positive expectation will bring a positive result: The Sun
I ride out into the world with open arms and open heart, the radiance of the Sun upon me. Riding on horseback, my heart open, connected through my Root with the realm of the Wild, I send out the expectation of a world filled with innocence and exuberance, lust and joy, growth and healing. This I create.

That the energy which I send out returns to me: The Magician
I stand in my power, wielding tools to work my will between the Worlds, in all the Worlds. I work my magic consciously, with awareness that the unexpected consequence of any action may outweigh the expected consequences.

That there are an infinite number of possibilities for my life: The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel spins. When I move with it, unquestioning, I believe I am standing still, and that the only action possible is what I am already doing. When I slow down and step off the Wheel I find the infinity of possibility. The challenge lies in the work it takes to step off the Wheel and step back on in the place of my choosing.

That every situation is an opportunity to practice and develop my craft: The High Priestess
I sit between the twin pillars of wisdom, before the pomegranate veil. I wear the crown of Isis and the robes of the High Priestess. I am learned, and yet the more I study, the more I realize the limitations of my knowledge. Every day offers opportunities to learn, to grow, to reach beyond my limitations. Every day brings me closer to lifting the veil.

That my instincts and intuition can be used to guide me: The Moon
Deep in the primitive part of my brain lie instinctive ways of knowing, beyond thought and reason. When I feel the pull of the moon, when the hair on my neck rises, when I know what is around the corner before I see it, I am attuned to that instinct. I quiet my mind into stillness and find guidance.

That my only power is in the present: The Hanged One
Secure in my connection to the Tree of Life, I let go of all save what is now. Neither right-side up, or upside down, I hang suspended in the instant between inhalation and exhalation, in the moment between heartbeats. I attune my awareness, still my mind, and let the Mystery surface from deep within: all that I was, all that I am, all that I shall be, is present in each moment. My power lies in the time between, in the place between, in the eternal now.

That the Goddess or life force energy is within me: Strength
With my feet planted firmly on the Earth, I open to the infinity of the Omniverse. I am a conduit of Her energy and power. I open my heart and humble myself to the Wild, and in that moment all Her power is mine.

TO WILL
That I shall never use my energy unwisely or to limit the free will of another:
The Hierophant
I use my energy in accordance with my will to do my work in the world and between the worlds. The challenges and work of this path are not for everyone, and others may look to me to lead them where they will not go by themselves. I lead with the consent of those who follow, without domination, coercion, deception, or manipulation. Like the original Hierophant of the Eleusinian Mysteries, I show others what is in their own hearts.

That I shall grow in wisdom, strength, knowledge, and understanding: The Star
I kneel on the Earth and draw up the water of wisdom, connection, community. I pour it out upon the Earth for healing. I stand in the communal pool and from my own inner well I draw the water of knowledge and understanding and pour it back. Above me the eight-pointed stars tell of the oneness of the physical and the spiritual.

That I shall, as much as I am aware, act in honesty to myself and others: Justice
The sword and scales of Justice are in my hands. I am honest first with myself, then with others, and I take full responsibility for my actions. As if bound by an oath, I tell the truth and withhold nothing.

That I shall never use my energy for what I know to be evil, aggressive, or manipulative and shall only use my energy for positive ends: The Lovers
Every time I work my will in the world and between the worlds I make choices. I choose to use my energy to bring change within myself, and to support positive change in my world. I act out of love. I forgo actions that use power-over to get what I want.

That I shall grow to understand the cyclic, life affirming rhythms of the Earth and always act with love toward Her and all Her plants and creatures: The Empress
I embody the Sacred, and I find the Sacred in the Earth and all that grows, crawls, swims, walks, and flies upon and over Her. I experience Her rhythms in the yearly waxing and waning of the Sun, in the he waxing and waning of the Moon, in the hormonal ebbs and flows of my body, in the cycles of growth and rest, expansion and retreat in my life.

That I shall transform all negative in my environment: Death
Before transformation can begin, I must release my fear. In the space between what passes away and what appears in its place is Death - nothingness, a place between, a place of Mystery. When I fear to pass through this place, the magic of transformation is beyond my capability. When I face the fear with my heart open, the magic of transformation is begun.

TO DARE
To be myself: The Fool

With the warmth of the sun on my back and the wind in my face, my eyes half closed, I stand on the verge. I am fully present in the moment, and open to the outcome of my actions, whatever it may be. All that I am, I carry with me, and that is all I need. Those who see me think I am about to step off the precipice and fall to my death. In truth, I dance with joy on the edge of death and so I know myself.

To take responsibility for myself and my actions and know that consciously or unconsciously I have drawn situations to me: Judgment
The Winged Messenger calls and I must answer. Naked and alone, I must speak the truth. This is what I did, this is what I said, this is what happened. And here are my judgments and assessments, my stories and rationales - I can explain everything. "Explanations are not called for," She tells me, "only truth, compassion, and love."

To be strong and independent even in the midst of struggle: The Devil
My strength lies in seeing beyond illusion, my independence in knowing that I am the source of my own experience. As my consciousness awakens, I learn that I can choose my battles, choose when to engage and when to walk away. I learn that struggle can strengthen, and that facing my demons brings me closer to my true self.

To accept and understand those whose ethnic or racial background, social or economic class, appearance, or sexual preference are different from my own: Temperance
The Temperance angel stands next to a bed of irises, symbol of the Greek rainbow goddess. She blends and mixes in Her cups, one foot on grounded on the land, the other in the flowing water of emotional connection. To accept and understand those who are different from me, I must first empty my cup - I must let go of assumptions, prejudices, all that I think I already know about them. I must ground my acceptance and understanding in present reality, and let the water of connection flow in the channels I open.

To stand firm and committed to women and my spiritual beliefs even in times of isolation, pain, desperation, or negativity: The Tower
When lightning strikes, though the Tower crumbles, the foundation holds. In the midst of upheaval and destruction, my spiritual beliefs and commitment deepen and strengthen. The Goddess and my sisters catch and cradle me, and I know Her grace and power in them.

AND TO UNDERSTAND WHEN TO SPEAK AND WHEN TO KEEP THE SILENCE: The Hermit
At times, I am out in the world, speaking my truth and teaching those who seek to learn. At times, I turn inward, seeking my truth and Her guidance. The Hermit's lantern guides me, the Hermit's wisdom teaches me the value and power of silence, of watching and waiting and seeking inner truth.

SO MOTE IT BE: The Emperor
Seated on an Earthen throne, robed in fiery red, with clear intent and focused will I speak these words of power and affirmation.

THE AFFIRMATION OF WOMEN'S SPIRITUALITY SPREAD

After working out these correspondences, I laid out the cards as follows:

First Row, The Opening: The World and The Chariot
Second Row, To Know: The Sun, The Magician, The Wheel of Fortune, The High Priestess, The Moon, The Hanged One, Strength
Third Row (line up these cards with the spaces between the cards in the second row) -- To Will: The Hierophant, The Star, Justice, The Lovers, The Empress, Death
Fourth Row (line up these cards with spaces between the cards in the third row) -- To Dare: The Fool, Judgment, The Devil, Temperance, The Tower
Fifth Row, The Closing: The Hermit, The Emperor

This layout shows how each section of the affirmation is connected to the one above it, which creates new "sub-affirmations." For example: The Sun and the Magician in the second row form a triangle with the Hierophant. Referring back to the affirmation, this gives us: "I can create my own reality and sending out a positive expectation will bring a positive result. The energy which I send out returns to me. I shall never use my energy unwisely or to limit the free will of another." The Hierophant then forms a triangle with The Star and The Fool: "I shall never use my energy unwisely or to limit the free will of another. I shall grow in wisdom, strength, and understanding. I shall dare to be myself."

Try it yourself -- use these ideas, or let the cards reveal a different lineup. Try laying the cards out in rows, concentric circles, or one big circle. Let the music of the words and the images on the cards wash over you, and see what new insights they bring.

Let me know what you discover!

Graphics Credits
+ High Priestess, Rider-Waite Tarot DeckR, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot, reproduced by permission of U.S.
Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright C1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot DeckR is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Visit the world's best source for tarot decks at www.usgamesinc.com.

+ affirmation spread, © 2003 S h e r r y M a r t s. All rights reserved.

Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without permission. All other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.
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