Why Do Spiders Creep Us Out?

I know it’s not Halloween, but it’s really this time of year when we start to see lots of spiders, isn’t it? The weather has warmed up. It’s time. 

I’m not really an arachnophobe, but I used to be. And even now, I have to admit that spiders do not make me comfortable, although I appreciate all that they do (which is a lot, by the way). Although many people think of them as bugs, the truth is that spiders are out there on the front lines between us and true insects. That venom that many have is not meant for us, and we are far more frightening to them than they are to us. We know all that, if we’re at all rational, and we might even know that spiders in houses are thought to bring good luck, but still…

Why do spiders creep us out so much? In my opinion this is a great example of a perfect question to ask tarot. It’s open-ended enough to give the cards quite a bit of flexibility in responding. So I asked the Yoga Tarot, and drew the Six of Wands, reversed Emperor, and reversed Fool. 

In the Yoga Tarot, the Fool is associated with the keywords freedom and madness, while the Six of Wands has to do with freedom also, but connects it with communication and the ego. Is anyone else thinking of the story of Arachne yet? In the center of this spread, we have the Emperor, representing order and balance. 

To me, this is a fairly clear answer — the kind of surprisingly clear answer that often comes out when we ask a why or how question. We can’t easily relate to what spiders do. Yes, we can relate to spinning and weaving. But we can’t really relate to a spider’s way of life. Or, maybe we can relate all too easily, and that fact scares us. 

When we look at other animals, cute ones, like kittens and baby pandas, we relate in a comfortable way. We can travel out of our own minds in order to imaginatively enter the world of some other cuddly mammal, and still make it back again. But when we think of spiders, it’s perilously hard to fathom how we can relate to what goes on the arachnid brain and still ever be able to make it back home to our own bodies and our own ways of life. 

We’re not afraid of spiders because they are creepy. We are afraid because they are so different and we are afraid of getting stuck in that difference. 

Yet we have to try, because the world is full of difference. There are as many different beings in the world as there are numbers, and the vast majority are probably not that much like us. If there are any rules of nature that we really know we can count on, I think those rules would be things like impermanence, beginninglessness/endlessness (in other words, infinity), and diversity. 

And what if spiderwebs are precisely the bridge we need to help us connect to what is different and come back again to ourselves? What if these tiny beings that we are afraid will destroy our minds are actually the protectors of our sanity? 

Strategies for Spider-Friendly Living:

If you see a spider,

1. Bless it.

2. Thank it. 

3. Stay out of its way; it has stuff to do.

That is all. 

Money Blessing: A Mindfulness Practice

laughing buddha with money bagMany of us are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh’s recommendation that we use everyday sights and sounds as “bells of mindfulness” that can remind us to return to the breath. I’d like to offer a related practice that we can do almost every day: blessing money that we send out into the world. I’m referring mainly to physical money, such as hard currency and coins, but it would be fairly simply to incorporate this practice into online bill paying as well.

Here’s an example: to do laundry, I have to put quarters into the washers and dryers in our building. One day I started blessing the quarters before sliding them into the coin slots. I hold the quarters in my hand, generate the intention that this blessing is meant for the sake of all sentient beings, but especially those to whom these quarters will eventually go, and offer gratitude to the Universe for allowing me to bless the quarters. Then I put the quarters in the coin slots, push the apparatus into the washer (or dryer) and go about my day.

Though I find it easiest to bless quarters in the privacy of the laundry room, it would be easy to bless all the bills and coins in one’s wallet at once, or to silently bless money while handing it to a cashier in a checkout line. It would be equally easy to generate the intention behind a blessing while paying bills online.

Do I really think that money can be a carrier for blessings to unknown people? Well, to some people, money is the best blessing of all! (I don’t agree, but it’s not for me to judge.) Whether or not blessings connected with money can actually reach their intended recipients through the exchange of random coins, taking time to generate the intention of sending a blessing is a way of bringing oneself into harmony and balance, potentially improving the harmony and balance of those around us and of our internal and external environments. It can be a lovely mindfulness practice.


Literary Lenormand: Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Series

Nine card reading on Hammered's ending, putting the man in the center at the beginning as a significator for Atticus

Nine card reading on Hammered’s ending, putting the man in the center at the beginning as a significator for Atticus

So, I’ve been obsessed with Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series for the past few weeks. Halfway through book 3, Hammered, I decided to draw cards on the ending of the book. (My notes from my Penzu journal that day, March 31, are below.) Though trying to foresee the plot planned by a fantasy writer is, perhaps, a fool’s errand. But I am nothing if not a Fool! :-)

First, I pulled cards to place around the Man, placing that card in the center as a significator to represent Atticus. Then, I decided to try letting the cards themselves randomly choose the significator, and got a slightly different spread. Both times the Heart, Lily, and Snake appeared. But in the first spread the Fox appeared, making me wonder if Coyote would have something to do with the outcome of this book (though it seemed unlikely given that Atticus had agreed to help several friends into Asgard — not really Coyote’s purview — so they could slay Thor). There is no Coyote card, so my thought was that the Fox was close enough.

Well — and I hope this is not too much of a spoiler for those of you who may not have read the book — Coyote does not influence the end of Hammered. But what’s interesting to me about my Coyote theory is that Coyote turns out to be central to the next book in the series, Tricked. It does make some sense that Coyote, as the Fox, because he has a personal connection to Atticus and not to the other allies against Thor, would appear in the spread that includes Atticus as the significator, rather than in the spread that focuses more on the mission of the book, travel (represented fairly well in the second spread by the Ship) to Asgard.

How do the spreads do otherwise, in predicting Hammered‘s end? Well, I didn’t foresee any of this, really, in my notes (which are copied below from my Penzu journal). If you look at the first spread, with the Man at the center, you can see the Book (diary or secrets). The central issue in this book is the secret stories that have been carried around by the individuals who want to take revenge on Thor, each for his own reasons. Then we have Letter and Fox, suggesting a message sent to Coyote, perhaps, but that had already happened in Hammered before I did this reading (I was 49% of the way through the Kindle version at the time). The center row suggests that Atticus has been or will be deceived (Snake) by someone he cares about (Heart). Well, he has been deceived by his friend Leif about the whole reason Leif is in Arizona in the first place. I could not have predicted that, but then, there is no vampire card in the Lenormand (a startling oversight! just kidding). The bottom row could relate to the story told by one of the allies, an older man (Lily), who goes to Asgard because he wants to take revenge on Thor for killing a water monster (Fish), but is killed in the process (possibly, Mountain). Or maybe the Fish here can be taken as representing the icicles (beardsicles!) on the Frost Giants, but that might be a stretch — or maybe it’s not as much of a stretch as it sounds, since the Frost Giants want to kidnap a goddess and have sex with her (Lily again, but Lily as sex rather than as an older man), but they are foiled (Mountain) in that as well.

2nd spread on the end of Hammered, with the significator in the center chosen randomly

2nd spread on the end of Hammered, with the significator in the center chosen randomly


Let’s turn to the second spread. As I noted before, the Ship at the center seems appropriate since the book is about planning for and taking a journey to Asgard. The ring is also appropriate — Atticus takes the trip because he has made a promise. First the promise (Ring), then the trip (Ship). And then love (Heart)? Well, yes, to some degree, as he becomes very attached to men who go with him (two of whom are already very good friends of his). But his love is taken from him (Mice?), as friends (I won’t say which ones!) die in the battle. The Mice could also reflect Atticus’ anxiety and growing fear that there is no likely happy (Sun) outcome. We also have the Snake (deception) connected with the Heart, as in the first spread, which makes sense given that Atticus finds out that a friend has been deceiving him for a long time. How about the Lily here? Connected with the Ring, a promise made to old men (chronologically old if not physically that old). The key? Yes, that promise is the key. The clover? A little luck with the friend who deceived him (in that he manages to save his life when it seemed that would not be possible). And a little luck in that Atticus himself manages to survive and get safely out of Asgard.

Could I tell you based on these spreads what would actually happen next in the book? Not a chance. However, they do make some sense in hindsight. All part of the learning process…and a good excuse to read an awesome series!

Penzu notes on these spreads: 

March 31, 2014

49% through the book at time of reading

For this reading, I pulled cards twice–once with Atticus in the middle using the Man as significator, and once letting the cards determine the significator. Both times certain cards appeared: heart, lily, snake. Heart and lily make me wonder what Atticus’ love life has to do with the outcome, while the snake is making me think that as usual, he gets through this challenge using his trickster abilities. In the second reading, we have fox (close enough to Coyote!) next to snake, making me wonder if Coyote is going to appear in Asgard or have something to do with what happens there. Could Atticus send a secret (book/diary) message (letter) to Coyote (fox)? [Full disclosure: Coyote has already appeared in the book, but I don't know yet if he will be involved in the outcome at the time of this writing.] We have the book next to the heart and mountain, but Atticus has already safely stored his books before this part of the book. Also wondering, does Atticus become romantically involved with someone who is a trickster? Seems like it wouldn’t be the first time…With the letter appearing in the middle column across from the fish, I wonder if Atticus will be sending messages to some kind of water elemental. Or maybe he just has to water some flowers…it does sort of look like things are growing, when you consider mountain, fish (water), lily…Also, through knightings of the letter, I’m wondering about messages sent to Gaia (mountain) re plants growing (lily) — but again, full disclosure, that has happened once already in this book. Knightings of heart: love leading to sex (lily), possibly with someone wily (fox)? There might also be secrets (book/diary and snake) connected with money and abundance (fish). Reading the diagonals: wiliness related to getting up a mountain or through one, secrets (or research?) related to sex?  We shall see…

Want to recommend a book for my Literary Lenormand series? Write to me at bonnie@tarotsalve.com!

Two of Swords--Samurai Tarot

On Fairy Tale Endings and Why They Don’t Exist (And Shouldn’t)

from Facebook, today

from Facebook, today

“Heaven’s logic is not human logic.” –Caroline Myss*

“Your spirit guides will not protect you from your life lessons.” –Sandra Ingerman*

Three of Chalices -- Samurai Tarot

Three of Chalices, the wedded rocks at Futimagaura, from Lo Scarabeo’s Samurai Tarot. An ocean of love, and the sun rising. Will that ocean of love erode and shape these rocks over time? Of course.

The people who love us want us to be happy, of course. And so it’s out of good intentions that they try to steer us toward “good matches” in love, and away from those who they perceive to be “bad for us.” Our parents would like us to marry (especially if we are female) partners who are “good providers” and who are stable. In fact, all those who love us would like us to find mates who will not present us with any challenges — people who will support us in every possible way and take care of us in our old age. How lovely. And that’s what we see, and think of, when we think about fairy tale endings and Cinderella stories. The couple rides off into the sunset and they live happily ever after.

How boring.

Judgement, Samurai Tarot

Judgement, from the Samurai Tarot. The little white book that goes with the Samurai Tarot says this of judgements: “Look into the depths of your heart and do not conceal anything. The heart is a good judge.”

What if we weren’t put on Earth to live happily ever after? What if we aren’t meant to have lives that are as comfortable as possible? What if we are meant to face adversity and struggle and sometimes fail? What if the life partner who is right for us is the very person who will challenge us — the person who does NOT rigidly follow the same rules that we do — the person whose presence in our lives teaches us something? That something might not be, how to be just like him or her, but might even be something along the lines of how to be patient, how to be gentle, how to not judge, and also (because we were not put on this Earth to be doormats, I’m fairly sure) how to be independent and set appropriate boundaries at the same time that we gently refrain from judging. Over time, by the way, we may learn more than non-judging — we may learn that this person had something real to teach us that we could and should consider emulating.

Who did Jesus hang out with? The people who were “good for him”? Apparently not or he wouldn’t have ended up on the cross. But, do we disapprove of his choices, or do we think that he did what he needed to do in the life he had to do it in? Ask yourself, whether or not you are Christian (and I am not) whether you’d prefer Jesus to have made safer choices.

This is why, when I see relationship card spreads that indicate challenges and obstacles, I don’t immediately say, “oh, you should end this right now.” To me, that honestly seems a bit crazy — or at least very premature. There is no one on Earth, first of all, with whom you can have a truly non-challenging relationship that will never try your patience. But secondly, the person who tries your patience the most may be the very person you are called to spend your life with (or the current portion of it). If you are thinking of leaving someone, or conversely thinking of getting involved with someone, to my mind, the questions you should ask are:

Two of Swords--Samurai Tarot

Two of Swords, from the Samurai Tarot. “Keep your mind focused. Be peaceful even in the heart of battle,” the LWB tells us. Or, I would add, even in the heart of love.

  • is there love and commitment here?
  • is there a deep heartfelt connection?
  • is there a basis for a strong friendship that can withstand challenges and that can exist without the need for judgement?

These answers matter much more than the question of whether there will be obstacles. There are always obstacles, and life wouldn’t teach us anything without them. 

That’s not to say that there are not bad relationships that should be left. But those are the relationships in which there is no love, not the relationships in which there are no challenges, no obstacles, and no mountains to climb. Do you see the difference?

When I see a mountain, I don’t sigh and walk away. Instead, I sigh with relief. O Beautiful Mountains! Finally! I missed you! :-) But, I was raised by mountain climbers. Still, mountains, like life’s challenges and life’s challenging people, are gorgeous. They shape us and make us stronger, better people. They are not always insurmountable, and even when they are, sometimes it’s wonderful to live next to mountains — we don’t always need to be on the other side. 

*Quotes above are paraphrased–I heard them in audio format and can’t seem to find the original references.

Card Practice: What Will the Next Email I Receive Be About?

Three card spread from the Art Nouveau Lenormand: the Birds, the Letter, the Crossroads

Three card spread from the Art Nouveau Lenormand: the Birds, the Letter, the Crossroads

I’ve found that it builds my confidence with divination considerably to pull cards about random stuff: the books I read, t.v. shows, silly, trivial stuff. Today, I decided to pull Lenormand cards on the topic of the next email I would receve. I shuffled, chose the letter as a significator to represent my email, and then looked to see what cards were next to the letter in my shuffled pile: the birds, and the crossroad (though in this deck, it just looks like a road).

Here is what I wrote in my Penzu journal about it:

birds, letter, crossroads


Birds: arrival of news, messages, possibly setting up a phone call or meeting. Could be a salesperson.


Crossroads: about making a choice


Asking me to choose a time for a meeting or call


Looked back at my email an hour later, and guess what my next email was? A Google invitation to a video conference call, asking me to RSVP.

Sometimes these cards are really amazing. Not such a practical exercise, but this was definitely fun! :-)

Literary Lenormand: Forecast for Brave New World

[Update to this post: I've decided to make this a regular feature...so watch this space for more book forecasts using the Lenormand!]

So, one of the techniques I’ve been trying, to learn Lenormand, is using my Lenormand deck to predict what will happen in books, movies, and t.v. shows. To that end, I did a Lenormand reading on my husband’s favorite book, Brave New World, which I had never read. Now, here’s the thing: I read him my prediction, which I logged in my Penzu journal on March 3, and his comment was “You are almost entirely totally wrong.” But now, having finished the book, I have to say that I see a lot of my predictions in it (a controlling government based on the employer-employee relationship, sex without commitment, a son who is taken somewhere, the book starting in an institutional setting, and even the hoses/tubes, which turned up in the first scene, etc.), though there are also some things here that didn’t pan out in the book. I’d love to hear comments from those of you who have read Brave New World! I’m pasting the spread and my Penzu journal notes (which are pretty rough; I wasn’t originally planning to publish them — and unfortunately the photo is a bit dim) from March 3 below.

Nine card forecast for Brave New World, from the Art Nouveau Oracle Lenormand

Nine card forecast for Brave New World, from the Art Nouveau Oracle Lenormand

The beginning: Perhaps the book begins in a tower or apartment, or in some institution, or on the road to that place. If so, the road might be twisty and turny (the snake). It’s not always clear what is around the next bend.

The Tower: a government with a lot of restrictions. Deceptive choices were made; politicians went down that road. The future of the government is clouded, there is a lot of worry and anxiety. Perhaps the government itself puts clouds in the way of people’s happiness.

The Crossroads: The book begins at a decisive point in time: a crossroads. Perhaps there has been a complication (snake) and a choice needs to be made. This problem involves things that may be hard to digest, or hard for people in general to digest. There might be hoses involved, or tubes of some sort. OR, a choice is made to protect the tricksters of the world, or to protect those who are sneaky and underhanded. Possibly to use money or institutional power to protect them, and maybe letting the foxes into the henhouse.

The Bear: money, resources, and protection are a central theme in the book. Also, loyalty, or love and loyalty. However, there is deception connected with love as well. The dog: friendship as well as love is being put to the test. Perhaps it is that loyalty is clouded by love, or that love is clouded by loyalty (to other things).

The Fox: finding sneaky ways to be loyal and to be a loving friend. Finding sneaky ways to be happy. Work-related ways. The employer-employee relationship is a subtheme. OR: there is a trap being laid at work, or at a police station. Just when everything seems to be working out happily, it turns out to be a trap.

Another subtheme: I see some sex in this book, though it might just be alluded to. The heart and the tower knighting each other. But the relationship is threatened, it’s not clear whether it will be possible for the lovers to be loyal to each other. Though they might have a son together. But if so, that son might be taken in and deceived by the book’s tricksters, just what the parents would have wanted to avoid.

Want to recommend a book for my Literary Lenormand series? Write to me at bonnie@tarotsalve.com!

Ostara Blog Hop: Resurrection and Rebirth


So, I want to look at resurrection and rebirth from two perspectives. To begin with:

In order to create, it is necessary first to destroy.

The Sun, Yoga Tarot

The Sun, from Lo Scarabeo’s Yoga Tarot

In order to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, one first has to burn to death.

In order to be resurrected or reborn, one first has to die.

"Resurrection," from Biblepictures.net

“Resurrection,” from Biblepictures.net

Or, put another way, in order to have spring, we must first have winter.

That’s why death is not necessarily bad news; losing a job is not necessarily bad news; getting sick is not necessarily bad news; experiencing loss and betrayal is not necessarily bad news; even global warming is not necessarily bad news. Not looked at from a longer perspective. Destruction is the precursor to creation.

But from another perspective:

Although I do believe in offerings, I don’t really believe in sacrifices, at least not at the level of religion (I do believe in day to day sacrifices — we could not live our lives if we did not sacrifice some options for the sake of others). For many of you reading this, the crucifixion of Jesus was a beautiful and necessary sacrifice. To me, it’s just blood sacrifice taken to a whole new level. And to me, to partake in Christianity would be to give my blessing and approval to the actions of a mob of people who chose to basically lynch Jesus. I also think that if Jesus saw this coming and had the opportunity to avoid it, it’s utterly wrong that he did not do so, a form of ritual suicide, of which I can’t possibly approve. Jesus on the cross

How do we (or at least I) reconcile these two perspectives?

First, I would say this: make your offerings to your god or gods by all means, or to the universe, or to the earth, but don’t think that an offering has to be a blood sacrifice. An offering can be a piece of fruit laid on an altar, or a heartfelt prayer. It does not have to require the shedding of blood. See, an offering should be a good thing, like a present. Something wonderful. Something you would look forward to. NOT something terrible.

Second, when terrible things happen on their own — do you see the difference? — we can embrace those things. We can recognize them for what they are: the opportunity to transform a situation, the chance to rise like a phoenix. We can recognize that while earlier there were few options, now, because of the Tower moment we may have just experienced, or because Death came to visit, there is suddenly a plethora of possibilities: many, many, many options to choose from. Suddenly doors have opened that were previously closed.

While the polar vortex of winter may have made our lives ever so much more challenging, it may also have made our lives ever so much more of an adventure. The crisp clean air of winter may have refreshed us and woken us up. If we had nothing but warmth and ease, we would remain drowsy. We wouldn’t fully wake up. We wouldn’t be in the present moment. And we wouldn’t have this opportunity to sprout something new in the spring.

What I’m saying is, even the challenges in our lives are blessings, and maybe “even” is a word that shouldn’t even be in this sentence. Our challenges almost always bless us, don’t they, in the long run? Our depressions, likewise. They give us what we need to grow.