Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Witch, the fairy godmother, the princess and goddess

Fairy tales evoke images of childhood, magic, miracles, supernatural events and dreams coming true. 

Iconography and amulets of the story of Cinderella is included in the Lourdes story as it corresponds with the story of Bernadette.  In many a fairy tale the protagonist is a young girl. Think of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstilskin and Snow White.  Sometimes she is a princess and at other times she is a poor servant girl.  But the focus in the fairy tale is always on the young girl, the mother and step mother and the fairy godmother or the thirteenth fairy or some interaction with a supernatural Blessing Lady.


In most fairy tales the main character is a young girl or princess.  Think of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Snow White.  Sometimes she is a princess and at times she is reduced to a cleaning girl or servant. The focus in the fairy tale is always on the young girl, the mother and step mother and the fairy godmother or thirteenth fairy or some interaction with a supernatural Blessing Lady.  Where is your inner princess?  Pay attention to which part of the casting cloth she appears on and see what she needs from you by looking at the nearby amulets.  The amulets tell a story and by paying attention to the pattern that they form, you can read the story for yourself

For many of us the journey towards wholeness starts with the impulse and desire to heal the Inner Child.  The inner child carries the openness and vulnerability of the soul and during our growing up years, these qualities become suppressed and hidden away. And the feminine qualities of the inner child gets conditioned away from an early age, as we grow up in a patriarchal culture with masculine values of goal setting, achievement, physical beauty, material gain and advancement. These are all positive and essential qualities,  but without their counterpart feminine attributes, such as inner appreciation, imperfection, chaos, individuality, compassion and nurturing, the inner world can become one of deprivation, depression and burn-out.

No-one knows for certain how old fairy tales are but the experts who have written on the history and meaning of fairy tales agree that fairy tales started to appear at more or less the same time that Christianity started to oppress pre-Christian beliefs and religions which developed into the horrific Inquisition and eventually the witch hunts. Unfortunately fairy tales have been mangled and their
original stories changed to fit in with patriarchy - many of the magical and supernatural women characters have obviously also been demonized, as has the meaning of fairy and witch. But there are still some amazing resources and research available for those who are interested in exploring this fount of wisdom Many, myself included, regard fairy tales as secret bibles of feminine wisdom and divinity. 

Fairytales are a font of wisdom, a secret book of Wisdom and Divine Feminine tales.  Fairy tales have certain basic structures, and in a nut shell one can describe them as stories in which the hero is always a woman guided by the supernatural, surrounded by magic and miracles and a wondrous healing tale for all!     The story of the Bright Lady in shining white Light that appeared to the starving little girl of Massabielles,  has all the elements of a fairy tale.  At Lourdes you step into the Otherworld; into a Land of Enchantment where miracles are possible. Fairy tales can be regarded as mythical religious stories with the focus and emphasis on the divine feminine as a balancing contrast to the patriarchal Roman and Greek myths which we have come to know.  In other words, a thealogy (female deity) in contrast to an exclusive theology (male deity). In this year's Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes  I explored the feminine wisdom and guidance of fairytales and specifically as it pertains to the miraculous story of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The fairytale has certain predictable elements, the heroine or young girl or princess;  the witch that tries to stop her; the queen mother or fairy godmother and magical animals and elements.

Amulets from the Fairytale Amulet Sets

I created the Fairytale Amulet sets which contain elements of the fairytales that are in the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck and specifically the story of Our Lady of Lourdes.  It contains a printed casting cloth

Casting cloth for Fairytale sets

The casting cloth has the image of my painting entitled "Sophia" and the Witch, Goddess, Fairy Godmother and Holy Child layout.  It also includes 30 amulets with ones coloured lilac, pink and blue.  Each set comes in pink, lilac or blue.  It includes a Virgin mary statue with matching Christmas tree, matching tin, rosary, a set of mini tarot cards from the Mysteries of Mary deck and a full booklet, explaining the art of casting, the practise of Benedicaria and explanations for each charms.



Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Seven Seals in Tarot

 “A prisoner devoid of books, had he only a Tarot of which he knew how to make use, could in a few years acquire a universal science, and converse with an unequalled doctrine and inexhaustible eloquence.  The oracles of the Tarot give answers as exact as mathematics, and measured as the harmonies of nature.  By the aid of these signs and their infinite combinations, it is possible to arrive at the natural and mathematical revelation of all secrets of nature.“  - Eliphas Levi

Tarot is a path of spiritual enlightenment and self-knowledge.
Through its regular (even daily) practise one can gain in-depth
knowledge into the nature of the self and the personality.
I find tarot  very powerful for shadow work and highlighting the hidden
unconscious behaviour of the personality.
It is also useful to use different types of decks and even to use them
together as each one has a different approach and focus.

Each one of the cards of the Major Arcana is an archetype and also an alchemical process.
The minor arcana of the Mysteries of Mary tarot show the alchemical processes
at work in the many stories of Mary and how they apply to our daily lives.
They elaborate and expand on the archetypes of the Major Arcana and how they play out
in the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual aspects of our lives as witnessed
and seen in the powerful religious stories and folklore.  (Of course, this is dependent
on our understanding of religion as a representation of human consciousness and
not as a literal event only.  It is also important to understand that these two concepts
do not cancel each other out.  In other words, you can understand religion
as a literal event as well as a divine reflection of the consciousness of humanity; 
to me the marriage of both these two ways of understanding are the most powerful)

Each one of the tarot cards can be related to a chakra, musical tone, a colour, an archetype, an element, a season, a sacred geometrical shape on the flower of life, 
a myth, a fairy tale, a path on the Tree of Life and more.

Working with the tarot as a path or yoga, one can marry the Eastern path of yoga with the Western path of alchemy in a true tantric practise.

*yoga means yoke or bridging the two opposites;
*tantric means a marriage of the opposites.
The focus of any spiritual path is unity.  
Unity on different levels of our being and consciousness.

The greatest challenge of the spiritual path (or the path of living with conscious awareness)
 is to live with the tension of the opposites.
This means that we have to live with the acceptance of what we are experiencing 
and what is the perceived reality in the present moment as opposed
to what we desire and would like to have in our lives.
The journey to make these two meet is probably one of the first initiations
and steps on the path.

Working with the imagery of the tarot cards our subconscious knowledge and
understanding is invoked and awakened.  So much of what we know and experience
is non-verbal and imagery is not limited by language and its interpretation.
There is that well-known saying 'a picture is worth a thousand words'.
By contemplating a picture and what it evokes in us, is a key
turning in a closed door and letting the light of vision in.

Our Lady the Tree of Life
from the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck


Each Major Arcana card is an archetypal picture and it has a corresponding
planet, chakra, house ets.   Each one is a key that opens the inner chamber of hidden meaning of each energy centre.  

There are many different interpretations and metaphors for the different systems and at different times we need different approaches. Various schools of thought apply different correspondences
and it is up to you to find one that works for you and that you can relate to.
This is not meant to be dogma and to be blindly accepted because 'teacher said so'.
I have found that my perception and understanding changes along with my own
evolution and what made sense a year ago no longer applies.  It is in one's
highest interest to allow these changes to take place and to follow the whispers
of the Inner Beloved rather than someone else's teachings. 
But we still respect all systems because they are valid and as true as one's own
personal reality.  All paths lead home.
In the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck I used the metaphor of Mary.  My own journey
of learning to understand the deep and spiritual attraction within myself to Mary whom I had
only known in a Christian context, and uncovering her bigger story, combined with my
life long practise of tarot as yoga, led to this deck.  Since its creation I have come to
understand and am learning more each day, of its powerful alchemical properties.
The path of Mary is a complex one.
She has been called by the Time magazine in 1991 as the world's 'first feminist'.
National Geographic have had her on its front cover twice the past two years.
Her name evokes horror and awe and devotion in various groups.

The Mary tarot deck is a path which marries devotion (bhakty) and wisdom (jnana).  The more you work with it as a spiritual practice, with contemplation, meditation, journaling,
visioning and visualisation, the more doors are unlocked.

The system of correlation below is one of many.  This is the one that corresponds to the 
Kabbalah Tree of Life as well as the Flower of Life.
I also work with a 12 house colour system which I put together many years ago
as a healing tool.  For now I will focus on this alchemical correlation and its 
correspondences and how it can be of help to you.

In this layout we are looking at the alchemical properties of the planets
and their relationship to the chakra.
These seven keys are akin to seven tones.

Put these seven cards in sequence next to each other and see the


The crown chakra (sahasrara)
Planet : Mercury

The third eye chakra (ajna)
Binah and Hokhmah
Planet : Moon
II MARIA SOPHIA (The High Priestess)

The throat chakra (visuddhi)
Gevurah and Hesed
Planet : Venus

The heart chakra (anahata)
Planet : Sun

The solar plexus (Manipura)
 Planet Jupier

The sacral chakra ( Svadisthana)
Planet Mars

Root chakra(Muladhara)
Planet Saturn

The root chakra governs our lower body, extends down into the legs and
feet. It seems a bit upside down that the highest tarot arcana corresponds
to the root chakra (the seemingly 'lowest' chakra).  This is part of the hidden key.

In Shakti tantra yoga it is understood that the kundalini lies coiled up in the 
root chakra.  The kundalini is symbolised by a snake because of its serpentine
movements up the shushumna or the spinal cord.  This is an energy that
moves in the meridians (nadi).  The shushumna has two vertical columns, the ida
and pingala, seen as masculine and feminine and through a process of 
energetic transformations and unfoldment, the shakty and shiva energies
move up and down, through locks and granthis, and finally unite
in the crown chakra and merge with unity consciousness.
Have you noticed how Mary is often depicted with her foot on the serpent?
The explanation given is usually that she crushes the head of the serpent (evil)
but I read it as she is master of the serpentine energy and 'rides' its energy
in the same way that Quan Yin rides the dragon.  This potent energy inherent
in all beings, can be applied for good or harm - it is like a sword of light in our hands.

Related image

I found this image on Pinterest.
Quan Yin riding the dragon on the waters of consciousness

One can use this knowledge in various ways.  It is of value to understand
the idea of chakras and how they relate to the energetic body
as well as the emotional and mental bodies.
The habitual thoughts that we hold onto, as well as those
unconscious ones, directly affect our emotional state, our mental health
as well as the health of the physical body.
There are many teachers of metaphysical healing that write
extensively on this topic.  

Working with a tarot deck on a regular basis is a powerful
path to self-knowledge and healing. It is one way of putting the
power firmly back into your own hands.
As with any field of expertise, it takes time and hours of practise.
It also takes commitment and dedication to learn to understand
a path properly and not to just skim over the surface.

Next I will continue with the other chakras.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Daily Practice towards Self-Mastery

St Bernadette, Handmaiden of the Holy Rood

I created the Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck and wrote the handbook as practical
and alchemical tool for spiritual growth and illumination.

The ultimate goal on the path of enlightenment is

The premise is that we are beings with a dual nature flowing from the true
authentic self.  As a seeker I spent many years exploring and studying and
applying a myriad of teachings.  Community has always been important to me
and together with friends, students and other seekers I created various platforms
where we could explore and experience ourselves in the context of life as a metaphor
for the greatest story ever told :  the story of Love.

The Beloved by Hettienne Grobler

All my projects and creations that I share with the world and with those
who are seeking, are created to assist you and guide you to self-mastery.
In order to master the universe we need to become aware and
stay aware of ourselves.  This means that we need to look deeply into those
dark unlit shadows and meet the monsters face to face.

The most powerful way to work with the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
is to draw a daily card.  After your morning meditation sit with the realisations
and thoughts and ask a question.

Draw a card from the deck and sit with its image for a few minutes
Then open the book and read the pages about the card in the handbook.
It is a powerful practise to read these words in a meditative way.
If any of the words jump out at you or they bring forth a certain image or feeling
or sensation, then write it down.
Keep a daily journal of the card that you draw as well as the spoken or unspoken
question that you held in your mind when you drew the card.
Make a note of your initial interpretation and understanding of the card's meaning
as well as how it answers your question.
Then at the end of the day, return to the card and the journal and contemplate
on how the meaning of the card actually unfolded and what was revealed to you.

You will notice a deepening of your intuition, a greater sense of insight into yourself
and your tendencies, gifts and challenges and a greater sense of peace and joy.

Mary-Sophia, High Priestess of Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

To complement the card deck I have also developed a Healing Oracle Amulet set.
These amulet sets work in conjunction with the tarot deck and their
primary purpose is to illuminate yourself to you and to cast light on your path.

These amulet sets are ever-expanding as I add new archetypes, icons and understanding
to them from my most recent pilgrimage. 

I will be offering in-person workshops in both the tarot deck and the amulet sets from 2019 .

Blessing Amulets of Mary

Blessings and peace on your journey


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Black Madonna of Chartres

XI Seat of Wisdom
Sacred Mysteries of Mary deck
Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres
Our Lady Underground
The Black Madonna hidden below the Cathedral of Chartres.

I read a wonderful book by Sybil Dana Reynolds
called Honey and Ink which brings
Our Lady of Chartres vividly back to life.

Since then I have visited Chartres twice.
The background tapestry in this shrine
I drew and stitched myself.  It is a replica
of the one that hangs behind Notre Dame Sous Terre
in the underground chapel of Chartres.
The image of the hand seen here is also painted above the door
which leads to the chapel and it is called
'The Hand of God'
and it is as though you are being blessed
by merely entering the hidden chapel
of the Underground Madonna

The artist that did the original tapestry said
that it depicts the Source of all Life
and she sees the Black Madonna seated
at the centre of the chaos of creation.

The hidden Black Madonna under the earth
is seated on the throne of wisdom and justice.
One has to descend through the Chartres Cathedral
to access these underground passages and
chapels, all of which are dimly lit and often
only by candle light.  You can only visit
this chapel under the guidance of an appointed
tour leader and you are not allowed to linger in
the chapel to pray or meditate.

The Black Madonna in the upper Basilica is
no longer black, but has been repainted and
redressed in a more modern European style
as part of the renovation of the Cathedral.
This seems to be an ongoing process of 'cleaning up' 
the Black Madonnas and removing all trace of their powerful
message and history. 

Oh Lady of Justice,
Seat of Wisdom,
where will I find thee?

“There is a reason Mary is everywhere. I've seen her image all over the world, 
in cafés in Istanbul, on students' backpacks in Scotland, in a market stall in Jakarta, 
but I don't think her image is everywhere because she is a reminder to be obedient, 
and I don't think it has to do with social revolution. 
Images of  Mary remind us of  God's favor. 
Mary is what it looks like to believe that we already are who God says we are.”

― Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: 
Finding God in All the Wrong People


Saturday, September 29, 2018

'scarlet woman, penitent sinner, Sister-Bride,
whore, Black Madonna, High Priestess of Isis,
Mistress of the Elements,
beloved wife of Jesus, favoured disciple,
Mary of Bethany,
Miriam of Magdala, Magdal-eder, the tower-stronghold,
Daughter of Sion  .......
- extracted from Hymn to the Eternal Feminine by Teilhard de Chardin

XII The Tower
The Magdalen
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck
The tower is often seen as a bolt of lightning
coming down from the sky, and I suppose by inference,
from God in Heaven.

Here is Mary Magdalene, the woman from
Magdal-elder, the tower-stronghold,
Daughter of Sion seen as the embodiment of
Wisdom as the Changemaker.

She holds the closed book of the Mystery in her hand.
At her feet is the skull, a symbol of Wisdom
and the ability to overcome the fear of death.
In the right hand corner she is depicted as the consort
of Jesus and her sacred oil and jar is displayed
as a reminder of her role as the woman who
anointed the King.

The tower represents the principle
of "living in one's own tower"
This symbol is often used in fairytales,
think of Rapunzel and her tower and
also in the story in the Bible of the Tower of Babel.
The tower separates one from the communion of
others;  it places you 'above' it all and it highlights the differences 
between you and others.  

The path of Wisdom is not always pleasant and comfy, but
she does promise regeneration and rebirth
and new enlivening circumstances
even if it means tumbling down from your high tower!!
(an extract from Magdalen, the changemaker


Friday, September 28, 2018

The annunciation of Anna

The Annunciation of Anna

All alone, she (Anna) went into the garden and sat down
 beneath the laurel tree. Looking toward the heavens, 
she saw a nest of sparrows in the tree. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes. 
How she longed to have a child of her own. Anna entreated the Lord, 
saying” Woe is me! To what am I likened? 
I am not likened to this earth, for even the earth brings 
forth her fruit in its season and blesses you, O Lord.” 
And behold an angel of the Lord appeared, 
saying “Anna, the Lord God heard your prayer, 
and you will conceive and give birth, 
and your offspring shall be spoken of in the whole inhabited world.” – extract from the Infancy Gospel of Mary

Anna was barren and never conceived with child. 
The Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she will miraculously conceive.  
It is told that this is a miraculous conception of the Holy child Mary 
and it is an echo of the immaculate conception of Mary still to come.  
As Anna and Joachim, Mary’s father, was too old to physically conceive a child, this was regarded as a conception by Spirit.  
‘Promise them, that by the favour of our right hand they will receive the Fruit of benediction, and that Anne shall conceive a Daughter, to whom We give the name MARY…. were revealed to St Gabriel.’ 
And Gabriel said: ‘She shall be elect, exalted, powerful and full of the Holy Ghost; 
on account of the sterility of Anne her  conception shall be miraculous;’ – Mystical City of God

Anna is Greek for the Hebrew name Hannah and it means ‘grace’. 

Anna’s story is also in the Quran and she is revered in Islam.  
In Islam Joachim is called by the name Imran 
and he dies before Mary is born. 
The priest Zacharias predicted the birth of a male Messiah to Anna, 
but she gave birth to a girl.  
She is revered as a mystic in Islam for her wisdom 
and realisation that Mary was a highly spiritual 
and special child to be dedicated to the Temple. 

In this shrine we see Anna sitting under the palm tree, working on her sewing.
Gabriel is holding the red thread of the mystical message of love and good news
which he delivered to Anna.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Handmaiden of the Holy Mystery

I am Thy Handmaiden
The fiat of Mary's consent

Each one of us is called to become the handmaiden of the Holy Mystery

The Angel said to her :
Hail full of grace,
the Lord is with you;
Blessed art thou amongst women

Two of Cups in Tarot Deck

Rejoice, depth hard to contemplate even for the eyes of angels!
Rejoice, you who are the King's throne!
Rejoice, you who bear Him who bears all!

Two of Vessels in the Suit of Compassion
Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck

Rejoice, star that causes the Sun to appear!
Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Rejoice, you through whom the creation becomes new!
                                                 -  Romanus Melodos, Akathist Hymn to the Virgin

This is the Two of Vessels, 
from the suit of Compassion
and the mystery of Mary as Virgin
Archangel Gabriel, divine messenger,
gives her the news that she is the chosen one,
the Godbearer.  This is a pivotal moment in
Mary's life and her response changes the course
of the world.

I am Thy Handmaiden

 Archangel Gabriel is standing on 
two vessels.  The vessels are mainly used for
water or wine and here they are  symbolic of
the living waters of consciousness .
And indeed Mary is to become the vessel
of the Holy Son.
We are reminded of our own individual roles
as vessels of consciousness and our own
birthing of the new, be it art
or hope or inspiration or consciousness.

Each one of us is called to become the handmaiden of the Holy Mystery

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; 

be it unto me according to thy word.

The fiat of Mary is Mary's consent to the divine plan.
Her acceptance and consent
has created a new world of grace and
it is within the potential of each one of us
 to birth such love and grace.

Down the side of the card are tiny forget-me-not flowers,
one of Mary's sacred flowers and the white lilies
in the background.

The flower garland on Mary's head shows
that she is a virgin. 
It is also predictive of her future
state as Theotokos and
Queen of Heaven and  Earth.