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I hope. I despair. I hope. (a ramble)

pictured: Lumina Tarot

Hi friends,

This is going to be a conversational post. Not sure where I’m going with it, but it’s been a while since we’ve talked and I’d like to catch up. So instead of writing a more typical blog post with a theme or thesis, we’re just going to chat today. Cool?

One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the cycle of despair and hope. I read something on one of my favorite websites (Brainpickings) that keeps circulating through my psyche, a quote from Maira Kalman: “We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. That is what governs us.”

Certainly, this juggling of hope and despair has been a hallmark of 2017 for me already. And if I follow the thread closely enough, I can see that this was also the case in 2016 and for much of my adult life, truly. Because this movement between despair and hope is a hallmark of the broader human experience.

Let me be clear before I go too much further on this train of thought: my life is good. For that, I am immensely grateful. I am safe. I am privileged. I have cuddly cats and a rascally pup and a solid partner. I still have valid struggles, but I also have perspective. This said…

There have been reasons to despair lately. I see them in the daily news, I’m hit with them afresh with each vile surge of the new US administration. I have despair for my country, for my world, and for myself.

But alongside of that despair, I have seen the reasons to hope – and I’ve seen my relationship with the concept of hope itself become more nuanced. Hope does not have to be wishy-washy. Hope does not have to be passive, vague. Hope does not have to be disconnected from reality. And hope does not have to be naive.

There are certain lessons I’m presented with time and time again in this life. Even when I feel like I “get” it, these lessons show up again and again, in all different angles and guises. One of my recurring lessons is the importance of being fully present with ALL of life. It is not possible for me to fully present for hope unless I am also fully present for despair.

There are a few reasons I’ve ghosted out of the blogging game lately. I guess mostly they have to do with the despair scale seeming so overwhelming at times. There have been moments that the despair feels so gripping that trying to write a business as usual blog post about reversed tarot cards or some such thing has seemed a little trite.

I may not have an enormous platform, but I think I’ve crafted out an avenue to bring value to other people through what I do. I’ve also realized that when it comes to anything involving my business – this blog, my social media posts, and my client work – I put pressure on myself to consistently show up as my best self.

And by default, perhaps on an unconscious level, I’ve told myself that my best self is NOT the self who despairs. My best self is the self who hopes! My best self is the self who has a well-crafted message of wisdom to offer. My best self is the self who feels courageous and proactive and empowered. I’ve only just now realized that I’ve believed this – I’ve been running on an unchecked belief that I’m only my best self when I am holding the energy of HOPE.

I guess tonight I’m wondering…what if I’ve been misguided about this? What if my best self is my whole self? My best self might also be the self who doesn’t know what to say, who rambles, who gets awkward, who feels terrified and uncertain.

Both of these selves are me. They are really part of the same self. Both are true.

Maybe I can stop putting so much pressure on myself to only and always show up with hope. Maybe the most important thing is that I show up with truth. And the truth is that I do hope. And I do despair. And then I hope again.

“There is no love of life without despair of life.” -Albert Camus

Okay. And with that, I think I’ve effectively broken the ice to get myself back into regular posts.

Yours truly,

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The importance of stepping fully into yourself in 2017

Hi guys,

Lately I keep thinking about this quote from Gabby Bernstein. She says “don’t dance around the perimeter of the person you want to be. Dive fully and completely into it.”

I’m a proponent of this idea in general, but the concept seems supercharged right now. We’re heading into a new year – and that’s always a time ripe for transformations. But is it just me, or does the new year energy seem SUPERCHARGED this time around?

In this video, I talk about why it’s more important than ever to step fully into yourself in 2017.

Oh, and a couple more things I want to tell you guys! Setting Your Theme For 2017 tarot readings are now available. The early bird price is $35, the standard price of $40 will kick in on December 22. You can book yours now to take advantage of that early bird pricing.

Last thing: I’ll be on a blogging break for the next two weeks. I’ll still be hanging around Instagram, though! I take this blogging break every year, mostly so I have more time to devote to completing your new year readings.

Cheers to being more bad ass than ever in 2017,

Book a private reading with me here.

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Review: Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand

First, a confession: I used to be kind of dismissive of Lenormand as a system. But when I saw pictures of Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was almost the same feelings I had when I discovered tarot. The cards seemed so mysterious yet intriguing, with evocative titles like the Anchor, the Key, the Lilies.

I am far from an expert on the Lenormand structure, but if you’re not familiar with the system I’ll tell you the bare details. It’s a more minimal system than tarot, containing 36 cards. It’s also a much newer system: incarnations of tarot date back to the Renaissance, while Lenormand only came on the scene in the early 1800s. Lenormand cards are traditionally read in pairs of two, offering messages about fate and the future.

I find Lenormand lends itself more to straight up “fortune telling” rather than the psychological soul-diving I associate with tarot. Fortune telling has gotten kind of a bad rep in the tarot community. A lot of tarot readers (myself included) are quick to assert that we are NOT fortune tellers; we offer advice and guidance, NOT predictions. I do believe that the psychological and spiritual aspects of tarot are the most meaningful guides for human lives…

But I sometimes…just for fun…I dip my toes into the “what might the outcome be” pool. I do this with a light heart – I don’t consider myself a psychic, and I generally don’t see much point to predictions. But when I’m looking for this kind of straightforward info, I find Lenormand a fun and insightful tool. You could say tarot is better at asking the question “why” and Lenormand speaks to the question “what.”

This particular Lenormand deck drew me in with it’s repurposing of Pamela Coleman Smith’s art (Pixie, as she is widely known, completed the art for the original Rider-Waite tarot deck). Now published through US Games Systems, this lenormand deck was originally self-published by the creator, Edmund Zebrowski. The Little White Book describes an smile-inducing tale of how the deck came to be, including the deck creator spinning a myth about a consultation with Pamela Pixie’s spirit.

And you’ll certainly recognize the art in this Lenormand deck if you’re familiar with the iconic Rider-Waite tarot deck. This Lenormand is a sort of collage, pick and grab, resize and replacement combination of elements from Pixie’s art (mainly derived directly from the tarot deck, but some of her outside projects are incorporated here as well).

It’s great fun sifting through these Lenormand cards and discerning for yourself where the images originated. Zebrowski certainly got pretty creative with some of these combinations! For example, the Garden alchemizes images from the Ten of Pentacles, the Queen of Pentacles, Nine of Pentacles and Ace of Cups. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for all the details in the Rider-Waite tarot by using this Lenormand deck.

The cards are smaller than traditional tarot cards, and come in a lovely tin – great for withstanding being tossed into bags and lugged around. The card stock is good, not too glossy, although they can be hard to shuffle due to their small size.

As I’m still a n00b with the Lenormand system, I do rely heavily on the Little White Book. I will admit I normally find LWB’s insufferable and wholly ignore them, but this one is quite good. Even the packaging is nice, the LWB looks like a miniature book. For each card, the energy is described, along with keywords, general meanings, meanings related specifically to love and career, timing and image origins. It’s a lot of info, and it has added a LOT of depth to the readings I’ve done with the deck.

The deck is described as “charming” on its packaging, and I can’t help but agree that charming is just the word for this deck. It has a certain mystique to it, retaining that je ne sais quoi of the tarot deck – yet it stands on its own as a separate, wholly unique creation. If I had to describe the deck’s personality, I’d say she’s like Mary Poppins: curt and no-nonsense, but still imbued with a lot of magic and originality.

Purchase your Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand from Us Games Systems.

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What my puppy is teaching me about purpose

If you follow me on Instagram, you may already be acquainted with the newest, fluffiest member of my family. This is Sokka (pronounced Sock-uh), an Australian Shepherd lab mix my husband and I recently adopted.

Living with a dog was uncharted territory for me until this guy came home to us a couple weeks ago. Yep, it’s true – I’ve been alive 31 years and I’ve never really lived with a dog, just kitties! I knew I’d have to learn many things once the pupster came home: how to teach him to sit and stay and poop outside, how to help him become friends with my two cats, even how to feed and groom him. And I’ve certainly been learning all that stuff.

But I’ve been learning one thing from Sokka that I didn’t expect to learn. I’m learning how important it is for an thoughtful, curious puppy to have a purpose.

And that’s led me to consider how important it is for a thoughtful, curious human to have a purpose.

In ways I didn’t know to expect, Sokka and I are very much alike. If he is left to his own devices without a constructive purpose, he will find decidedly more destructive ways to stay occupied (such as chewing on my slippers, chasing the cats, or eating poop).

And I’ve been realizing that I’m… kind of the same way. If I don’t have a constructive purpose, I also gravitate towards less savory behaviors (such as cynicism, dicking around online, or eating too much chocolate).

Neither Sokka nor myself can really thrive when we are aimless. As a dog, Sokka is innately wired to be productive: herding, solving a problem, playing a game. He takes noticeable joy in every opportunity to learn about the world around him (you should have seem him discover snow, which is now one of his favorite things that exists). It’s not in his nature to sit around doing nothing. He wants to be exploring, learning, engaging. He is at his happiest and best when he has a purpose.

I’m the same way. When I reflect on the times that I have felt the most satisfaction and happiness, they’re always times when I feel like I’m doing something purposeful. When I’ve put in a solid days’ work doing readings for clients, or when I’ve spent some time writing, when I’ve taken direct action towards accomplishing a goal…those are a few of the times when I feel the most aligned.

A purpose can be very broad or very specific. I could decide my life purpose is something open-ended, such as to heal and expand. I could decide my daily purpose is something quite specific, such as completing three tarot readings. I could decide my purpose in this particular hour is to write 500 words, or just to write with no quota. We can define our purpose however we want – the important thing is just that we DO define it.

There’s one main thing that I get hung up on when it comes to defining a purpose for myself, and I’ve seen the same phenomenon in my clients. I tend to get stuck by worrying too much about focusing on the “correct” purpose. Like, right when I tell myself “okay, Carrie. Your main purpose for December is to focus on building your new website,” another part of me replies, “but is that really what I should be doing? Am I even capable of building a website? What if I do it wrong? What about all the other goals I have, shouldn’t I focus on one of those instead?” And so on, and so on, until I utterly derail myself from gaining momentum on the task.

What I really admire about Sokka is that he doesn’t get bogged down by the inner critic and doubts that humans do. If I offer him his rope toy, he happily accepts that his purpose is now to play tug-of-war. And if after a few minutes his puppy attention deficit distracts him, I can easily remind him by waggling the rope that THIS is his current purpose.

This is one thing that is truly challenging about being a human. Many of us are privileged with a lot of influence over defining our purpose. But at the same time, many of us resist this autonomy, because autonomy is hard! Having a say in defining your purpose requires you to develop the right blend of self-discipline and self-love. It requires you to ask tough questions of yourself, and to regularly engage in thorough self-inquiry. It requires you to experiment, risk failure, and come face to face with your most gnarly inner demons.

What’s easier is having a church or a parent or society define our purpose for us, and then simply sticking to the status quo. Some people can find genuine happiness that way – but myself and others like me feel called to walk our own uncharted paths. And defining a purpose on your own terms is not easy! There’s often no rule book, no footsteps to follow. I think this is why some of us struggle with self-doubt and clarity around defining our purpose.

Sokka is teaching me how liberating it can be to quit over-complicating things, choose a damn purpose and then just FOCUS on it! Forget perfectionism, forget worries about making the right choice. Just pick something and tell yourself “this is my purpose right now.” If that chosen focus really does start to feel wrong, you can always re-define your purpose at any given time.

This is because we humans drain SO much energy by refusing to choose a purpose, or by doubting our choice, or by criticizing ourselves every step of the way. I’m asking myself to follow Sokka’s example: keep it simple, focus on something, re-direct yourself when you get distracted, find joy in the process, and move on when you’ve done what you need to do.

It’s really that straightforward – dogs know. Humans are the ones that need reminding!

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My oracle & lenormand deck collection – 2016

Last week I put up a video showing you guys my tarot deck collection. Well, guess what?! I have more decks! Here you can take a gander at my “other” decks (oracle and lenormand).

 

 

Until next time,

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My tarot deck collection – 2016

It’s been a while since I made my original deck collection video. The crew has grown a bit since then, and so I made an updated video! Enjoy a quick tour of my tarot deck collection:

 

And for your further viewing pleasure, check out:

My older deck collection video.
My Dreaming Way Tarot review.
My Japardize Tarot review.
My Deck of the Bastard review.
And I forgot to include this one in the collection video, but it’s a great deck – my Gaian Tarot review.

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We’re still kicking.

It’s been a hell of a week.

Some unplanned, person notes to share today.

I started the month feeling optimistic. I would be participating in National Novel Writing Month, I had all my blog content ready in advance, and above all – the US election was FINALLY drawing to a close. I had to believe that Hillary Clinton would win and that even if this didn’t make my country and world “perfect,” it would be a steady and safe step in the right direction.

Like many others, before election day I could hardly bring myself to consider the alternative result of the election. But now we are all living in that reality, and it still feels terrible. I spent a lot of this past week feeling like my heart had been encaged in an iron vice.

I don’t know, guys. I don’t know what to say. I don’t have anything profound to offer. I feel the way I’m seeing many people feel: disheartened that a campaign driven by racism, sexism, fear mongering and misinformation has someone succeeded in obtaining the highest office in my country. This has implications for all of us, but especially the most vulnerable members of society, those who already had the odds stacked against them. I’m rambling because I didn’t plan or edit this post. The point is, this is bad.

I’m slowly trying to regain my footing, because what is the alternative? Giving in to cynicism and despair. That would be the easy way out, and I can’t say that path hasn’t tried to draw me in. But I’m not going to choose to go that way. I will rage against the dying of the light, as someone far more articulate than myself once put it.

With that in mind, I want to tell you that even in this time of darkness, I’ve seen some pretty brilliant light at work over the past week. I saw someone invite anyone feeling lonely into her home for the upcoming American Thanksgiving holiday. One of my best friends – who happens to be a female rocket scientist – talked with me about her plans to bring science education into rural areas. Another person I know stated that if he receives any tax breaks under Trump’s changes, he’s going to donate that money to organizations fighting Trump’s agenda. These things might sound small, but it is endlessly beautiful to me to see people who will NOT give in to fear.

Because fear is there for many of us, indeed. Settling into this new reality is a process. Grieving, numbness, fear and uncertainty are part of that process. But we’ll do whatever we can to prevent them from having the final word.

This week has been brutal, but I’m still kicking. And if you’re reading this, you’re still kicking. We can take the time we need to mourn, to process, to integrate and come back to center. And when we’re ready, we can join the vast amounts of people who are dedicated to standing up for love, equality, acceptance, and progress.

And you know what? There are a LOT of fucking people trying to do good in the world right now. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that the majority of voters did NOT want this outcome (thanks for nothing, electoral college). The majority of people stand for love, not fear.

That brings me some comfort. I’m still processing – and maybe you are too. But I am certain that cynicism will not get the better of me. I’ll move forward and do what I can to speak up. To take action. To make decisions that come from a place of empowerment and centeredness.

We ARE stronger together, and we’re being issued an invitation to do some epically hard but loving stuff. I accept the invitation – I am in.

Sending so much love your way,

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Eight craft projects to repurpose tarot cards

Every now and then you end up with a tarot deck that you just don’t vibe with. Maybe the imagery was super gorgeous when you saw it online, but once you had it in your hands…it just wasn’t the deck for you. This happens to the best of us! You find yourself with a few options: leave the deck on a shelf to collect dust, sell or give it away, or…get crafty and repurpose the cards! There are so many interesting projects you can do with a deck of cards! Here are eight things you might consider doing with a deck of tarot cards you don’t care to read with.

1. Make bookmarks

I have a knack for constantly misplacing bookmarks. Luckily for me, I always have a few stray tarot cards on hand to place in my books. You can do what I do and just use the cards as is, or you could get a little craftier: trim the card borders with scissors, then use an edge rounder. Punch a hole in the top of the card and pull a ribbon through and you’ve got yourself a pretty damn adorable tarot bookmark.

2. Wall art

This is a good option if you find yourself with a tarot deck that is gorgeous to look at, but not so great for reading. Why not put the cards in a nice frame and hang them as wall art? I’m planning to do this with the major arcana of one of my decks.

3. Make a mini notebook

Okay, are you feeling really adventurous? I found this tutorial to make miniature notebooks and it looks super cool. I haven’t tried this one myself, but how sweet does that look? Making some little tarot notebooks would be incredibly awesome. If you are more ambitious than me and try this, send me one! Jk sort of but really, send me one. 😉

4. Add in your own art

Here in Salt Lake City, there’s an artist who gathers painted landscapes from thrift stores and adds in her own elements. If you have a deck with more minimal imagery, grab a pen and add in some artistic flair of your own just for funsies.

5. Use in an art journal

If you already keep an art journal, you could incorporate your stray tarot cards. It would be particularly fun to cut them up and piecemeal them together collage-style.

6. Make a garland

Try making a card garland! I haven’t done this and probably won’t due to laziness, but it creates a nice effect. String the garland across your desk or doorway or bookshelf or…anything, really. Tutorial here.

7. Make a business card holder

If you’re up to another more challenging project, how about making a mini-wallet/business card holder? There’s a tutorial here, and the creator had good results using tarot cards.

8. Make a tote bag

This is the next one I’m going to try! Teenage Carrie would have loved this one. I have fond memories of making myself a tote bag out of duct-tape and feeling like a DIY goddess when I was 15 or so. Plain duct tape was cool enough, but imagine making a tote bag out of tarot cards?! Yes, you can do that. Tutorial here, and it’s pretty easy.

There you have it: eight crafts to repurpose your tarot cards! If you try any of these ideas, definitely leave a comment and tell me how it goes.

Happy crafting,

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Your creativity probably won’t save the world

Every now and then, you hear something that clicks the loose synapses in your brain. That’s when you have the “Aha! Eureka! YAAASSS!” moments. I had one of those moments when I was reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (to be fair, I had several of those moments reading this book, but I’m discussing one in particular here). Here’s what she wrote:

“You’re not required to save the world with your creativity.”

Wow! To some of you, that may seem as counter-cultural as it seemed to me. I really can’t scroll through my social media feeds for five minutes without seeing someone talking about how ~*the world NEEDS your creativity!*~

The thing about those “the world needs you” messages is that they are well intended. They are meant to be sincere, encouraging, inspiring. And sometimes they are. Hell, I’m guessing I’ve probably even shared similar messages myself, because I do believe that the world is improved when creative people activate their gifts. But I DON’T believe that it’s healthy for us to put pressure on ourselves to SAVE the world.

In my experience, the most powerful creative energy is something that swells up from within us. It’s an energy we feel compelled to express primarily for the sake of expression. There are some cases where we can make logical choices about what to create. But for the most part, our creative impulses are not driven by logic. A lot of creative people have a difficult time describing WHY they’re drawn to their particular craft. They just are.

We want to create for the same reason herding dogs want to herd: we’re born to do it. If it happens to contribute something of value to the world, that’s an added bonus – but not a requirement.

The more I look at the world, the more I believe the world doesn’t need martyrs taking it upon themselves to save it. When I observe people who I think HAVE made a positive impact on the world, it’s rarely because they set out to save the world. It’s because they had an indwelling calling to create something, and it just so happened that that something had an impact. The creator would have gone forth with their creation, though, regardless. Helping the world was a byproduct, not the primary goal.

If your primary motivation for creating is to save the world, you’ll probably find this motive unsustainable. You don’t need a lofty, selfless reason to create. Creativity is only sustainable when it’s driven by curiosity, by a ceaseless call to expansion.

Maybe your particular brand of creativity will have just a small reach. Perhaps you’ll make life more pleasant for your partner and your friends and your cats. Who’s to say that isn’t good enough?

It’s also okay for your creativity to be just for you. You can write words no one else ever reads. You can relish painting something a gallery would shun. You can create something extravagant, abstract, derivative, silly, against the grain, ugly, self-indulgent. It’s all okay.

So, does the world need your creativity? Maybe, but probably not.

Should you follow your creative impulses anyhow?

Hell fucking yes.

Don’t create to save the world. Create because you must create.

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How to create your own memento mori with tarot

We are entering the dark part of the year. The days are shorter, the trees are shedding, and some would say the veil between the living and the dead is thinning. During this time of year many of us choose to contemplate our own mortality – not out of morbidity, but out of a respect for the cycles of life.

It’s one thing to pay attention to the big sweeping moments in life. That’s easy enough: the births and weddings and heartbreaks and other life defining moments. These big moments are symbolized in tarot by the major arcana. They are the energies that have a lasting impact, that stand out with boldness in our memories.

But how easy is it to shift in and out of presence with the passing moments in life? The moments that on first glance don’t seem largely important. The every day moments of working, procrastinating, eating, walking, and sleeping – represented by the minor arcana cards. It’s scarily easy for me to drift on autopilot through these every day moments If I do not consciously choose to live with awareness.

Memento mori is a Latin phrase which translates to “remember you have to die.” This concept is echoed in many cultural, religious and artistic traditions. Items can be used as a memento mori – physical reminders of our mortality. I recently stumbled on this article written by someone who created a memento mori using playing cards. Naturally, I was inspired to try something similar with tarot cards.

This project will span a year. I’m going to start on Halloween/Samhain, but you could start something similar at the new year in January, on your birthday, or on any other day that feels right.

There are 52 weeks in a year and 56 minor arcana cards. For this project, each card represents one week of the year. The extra four cards will accompany the weeks of the solstices and equinoxes. Unlike with most tarot related activities, the imagery isn’t particularly important, so you could use a deck with abstract cards (or even a deck of playing cards) if you’d like. In fact, I think this project would be even more effective with a simple deck as the illustrations might even be distracting! Here, the cards represent the passing of time – not their traditional meanings.

I’ll share my ideas so that you can try this for yourself, if you’d like. This is only intended to give a blueprint. I think there’d be a lot of interesting ways to tweak this project, and I’d like to hear how it works for you if you try it.

How to create your tarot memento mori

-Select your deck. This project will occupy your deck for a whole year, so choose a deck you’re okay not reading with for a while. Pictured here is the Deck of the Bastard.

-Set aside the major arcana cards. This memento mori is designed to keep you mindful of the small, passing every day moments represented in the minor arcana. The majors are typically given more attention, but the minors show the fleeting paintbrush strokes that eventually make up the entire landscape of our lives.

-Divide your minor arcana cards into four piles. The first pile will be the four aces. The next four piles will be the remaining cups, wands, suits and pentacles cards. There are 52 weeks in a year and 56 cards in the minor arcana. Aside from the aces, the rest of your 52 cards each represent one week in a year. The aces represent the equinoxes and solstices.

-Keep the aces separate. Stack the remaining four piles on each other with wands on the bottom, followed by cups, then swords, and pentacles on top (the order of the cards within each suit does not matter). I chose this order because of the way I personally associate the suits with the seasons. Tarot readers work with different seasonal correlations – my preferred method is to link pentacles to autumn, swords to winter, cups to spring and wands to summer. Note that the seasonal correlation here will be very approximate. If you start on Samhain as suggested, autumn will already be partially over of course.

-Place your memento mori cards face up somewhere special. You could use an altar, a desk, a bookshelf or whatever else. Leave space to form a second pile of cards to the left.

-On Samhain, take the top card (if you’ve ordered your cards as I suggested this will be a Pentacles card) from the big pile. This card represents the past seven days. Say out loud “I respect the week that has passed, and I move with awareness in the week that is to come.” Place this card face down in a new pile to the left of the main pile. You’re now starting to form a new pile that will represent weeks that are already “dead.” You could also add a more elaborate contemplation, such as keeping a notebook and jotting down a few quick memories from the week.

-When you do this ritual during weeks that contain a seasonal change (solstices and equinoxes), you will move one of the four Aces into your “dead weeks” pile in addition to your regular card.

-Repeat this process once each week, moving cards from the main “living” pile into the face down “dead” pile. May this help you stay mindful of passing time, respecting the small moments as they fade away…and remember that you will die.

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Hi, I'm Carrie!

I'm a tarot reader and mentor.
My purpose is to encourage your expansion. If you're new, start here.

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