Blackthorn Pricks Survival Instincts

While browsing through the new Plant Ally Cards, I was attracted to the message on the Blackthorn card, so I pulled it out and remembered several other decks that have Blackthorn in them.

SURVIVAL INSTINCTS – BLACKTHORN – prunus spinosa [sic]

The first word in the Latin name should be capitalized. I’m also disappointed in the abstract drawing and painting of these plants. I could identify about 10% of them and the rest just looked baffling. To be fair, these were never advertised as scientific illustrations, but still.


The woman looks like a fierce warrior, she’s ready to get out there and make sound choices about her life. “You may feel in a bit of a hole with no obvious way out.” That’s how I felt yesterday at least, but today I thought I would catch up with some correspondence and clear the way to spend the weekend doing our income taxes. I immediately felt better—action always alleviates anxiety I find.

Blackthorns are thorny obviously but they are often used for walking sticks because of the strength and the density of the wood. Go ahead, keep walking, don’t be resistant to change, you have no choice really but you have to accept the things you need to face.

Right then, income taxes it is.


The Hawthorn Tree Across Decks

Daily Draw May 23rd, 2013

I started this yesterday but didn’t have time to pull it all together until tonight.

Because of ordering the Wisdom of Trees Oracle, I got to thinking about trees and the Hawthorn kept popping into my mind, so I’m going to do a small study of it across decks.


Apart from the one I have on order (above), I found this tree in eight other decks.


In the Tree Affirmation Cards, it is about leaving fear behind and delighting in the innocent joy and blossoming in yourself. That little girl on the card makes you want to laugh and jump and touch trees! It is a celebration and delight in change, which is really what is going on with me lately.

The Ogham deck looks a bit more mysterious and is also about dramatic change and growth. Turbulent times can be gone through if you intuitively connect to yourself. The hawthorn berry is good for regulating blood pressure and helping your heart physically, which is also something I am working on these past few years.

I liked all the following cards because they are so botanical:


The Nature’s Pharmacy Deck mentions the heart tonic of the hawthorn fruit, as well as the thorns of the tree that can build livestock-proof hedges around pastures. Perhaps a nod to protecting yourself too against all kinds of things like fairies, and providing general protection of the home.

The Celtic Tree Oracle speaks of renewed growth and strength and also mentions the classic May poles that it decorated and its defensive, protective qualities. There is some mention of keeping to yourself, experiencing a period of restraint and keeping the focus on mental rather than physical things. Since I hurt my back this week trying to do some stretching exercises and am in pain, that sounds good. No rushing into an active phase, but having an adequate waiting period is also mentioned.

I was surprised to find the tree in The Victorian Flower Oracle, where the pruning shears and dentistry are mentioned. Sheila Hamilton writes that we go through painful but necessary experiences and duties and just have to get through them, and Hawthorn grows very slowly and lives to a great age. It also hints at a trip to the doctor which fits in with my naturopathic consultation in two days.


I don’t often use The Herbal Tarot but it has quite a few good plants. This is a demo deck from a shop I used to go to, which is why it has holes punched in it.

I often call the Six of Wands the “victory” card, but they say this victory can be tentative as you aren’t sure if it is worth expending energy on. Something a little different with that card. And the idea that if you don’t gain much, the act of going through a difficulty helps you grow or change which in the end is worth it.

More here about the calming properties of Hawthorn and its effect on high blood pressure. I do take Hawthorn for my blood pressure already so I feel this is backing me up. I will be interested to see what my blood pressure is when I go to the naturopath.

The Tree Magick deck is a gem that I don’t often see people using. Here it is about transformation and changing something extreme into its opposite, so a turning point is coming. Because of its medicinal properties she says an upsetting situation is improving, but also says to be cautious, similar to the slowing down and restraint spoken of in the other decks.

Lastly, The Green Man Tree Oracle also speaks of challenge but says that it doesn’t have to be threatening, it can simply be an opportunity to explore and test our strength. There is mention of fear again and turning that into power. I love that he mentions that your life may be in a rut and you can accept the possibility of change. I feel that so deeply this week, like I am stuck in a rut, in the fog of ennui and in a continual loop that isn’t going anywhere.

So a slow and steady progress with a bit of challenge and fear. I shall show restraint and forge on!



Rook Sips Elderberry Wine in Winter

Daily Draw December 27th, 2011

I wanted to use a deck I hadn’t used in 50 million years and finally pulled this off the shelf.

The dark time

Apart from literally being the darkest time of the year, this card highlights feelings of darkness, reflected in the hopeless stance of the little fairy. The book says that dark times contain great potential for learning as well as great healing. Many parts of the Elder tree are used for healing, from the bark, leaves, flowers and berries.

So I shall hold on to that, and the days are getting lighter a little bit at a time.

We don’t get rooks (Corvus frugilegus) in North America but they are mysterious like crows and ravens and have a distinctive bill with a white patch unlike crows. They sound much the same though and the caw of these birds reminds me of cold weather and birds gathered in bare trees, and the mist of the countryside.

A hawk killed a woodpecker in our garden on the weekend which also speaks of dark days, but the moon reflects on the roots of the Elder and the season turns.


Brambles and Fear; Comes the Ash

Daily Draw May 3rd, 2009

Today is my last day of drawing from the list of Nature cards in my card database, in anticipation of Spring. Spring is here!

I took one of my sketchbooks out yesterday and glued some Japanese paper down on the first page and ruled off five sections and collaged bits of paper for borders between the sections. Now I’ve got five distinct areas with paper underlays upon which to draw. I went through my clip file from magazines and got some suitable Spring-related bouquets to inspire me.

This sketchbook was discarded by a student at a school a friend works at. At the end of the school year, the kids throw out brand new and almost-new stuff; the waste is disappointing. This journal had a few pages used but I ripped them out, and scrubbed the cover, and then I did a painting on the cover after laying down a base of glue and tissue paper. Now I’m inside on the first page, and this is the base I’ve created for drawing on. I can tell this is another design that’s going to suffer from my perfectionism. I’ll try to go in loose and sketchy and then get hung up on being perfect, so I vow not to let that happen.


Today’s draw from Tarot of the Secret Forest and Ogham: The Celtic Oracle:


This looks like a Death’s Head moth, hovering, waiting to cull lives. There is a transformative glow about this figure, hovering over the brambles in the woods. I think of being stuck or trapped in brambles, becoming more and more agitated and scratched and torn as you try to get out. The moth rises above that to get a clear view, relaxed, free from the fear that rips and tears the flesh.

I’ve scanned in the back side of the card–one of the reasons I bought this deck was because the original artist sketches are on the reverse of the cards. You can see that while the picture is basically the same, when colour was added some details were enhanced and some faded or were lost.

You can have a clear idea of what you want art to look like, but once you start painting it rarely comes out exactly the way you had planned. Something to keep in mind today for my work in the sketchbook.


What struck me about this was the idea of scienctific balance and form underlying things; sacred geometry is built into many natural forms. This looks like Neptune/Poseidon and his trident with a snipe. He seems slumped as if he knew his direction wasn’t needed, things will flow naturally as they were meant to without his fussing. He’s tired and enjoying the break.

This card is about rebirth and integration. If you are afraid of the future then you live with fear in the present, and that’s not good. Integration of past, present and future is important here. Somewhat stormy conditions, echoing being overwhelmed by brambles and fear. The secret is integration and your thoughts and actions affecting your reality. Unlock doors to new knowledge and wisdom that is hidden within you, and take each day as it comes.