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April 2019 Full Moon

Such wonderful promise outside my windows, and inside my heart as well. After several years of taking a break from teaching through Beltane Studio, I am re-opening the door and offering classes again. It has been a time of retreat after the closing of Evenstar Bookstore and Sacred Paths Center. I have continued reading tarot for my loyal clients, and playing with lots of ideas for what and how I might be interested in teaching going forward. The world is a different place than it was back in the late 1970s when I first began reading tarot and teaching. There were fewer books available, and of course no internet. And the topics that I was interested in exploring were considered “spooky” and something on the fringe of ordinary lives.

But this is decades later, many of us have come to be more comfortable with the multiplicity of energies and experiences open to us, and understand that there are more ways of knowing and interacting with the world than just our intellect and rational selves. Drawn to mysteries, to the mythic and archetypal layers of how we process our experiences, I have continued to study, and to play in these realms always following my own interests through new and ancient ideas. Now, I am most interested in pursuing not simply the answers, but the questions that lead into new territories and toward intersections of ideas and action. 

I am developing a schedule of classes again, tarot, creativity, writing, arts, and delving into our own lives to find the treasures hidden that could inform us of our path, purpose, and meaning. I am following my own whims – being of a “certain age” and knowing that I have things I want to do, and limited time to get to them – and I invite you to join me if any of these adventures call to you. I intend to break out materials, throw my studio door open, and hope for kindred souls and like minds to gather with me.

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October New Moon 2019

Wow! I had so much fun presenting at the Women and Spirituality conference in Rochester, MN. I was there for the weekend, and had the chance to meet up with people from all over the area, and to attend other presentations about a wide variety of topics. But the most. Fun, I thought, was presenting my own workshop on Personal Journaling and the Tarot. I got to open us a space and time for 20 plus participants to play and invent, create and document their own interactions with tarot cards, imagery, and energies. In the space of 1 and 1/2 hours, we talked about personal journaling ( and most of us in the room were dedicated journalese, so this was a fun conversation) tarot structure, archetypes, images and uses. 
Materials were laid out for everyone to explore a bit, and between the tarot decks thatI had brought, and the decks that many of the others had (some just bought new in the conference venders’s room), there were more than enough tarot decks to go around. I had also made small blank books so we all had a journal to start working in immediately. I also shared a spread of art supplies for our first activity. After quite contemplation of the archetype of the High Priestess (often considered to be the “patron saint” of Tarot readers), all of used a blank tarot card and created a version of their High Priestess, or Wise Self with stickers, washi tape and markers of all sorts. Then, propping these cards up in front of us, we wrote quickly, in stream of consciousness style, what our Wise Self had to say to us. It is always remarkable to me how white we can be when we write without thinking, editing, or censoring ourselves.

The next exercise we moved onto had to do with drawing cards randomly to inform us about ourselves in that moment and place using this spread:

And the last activity that we had time for (after sharing after each exercise) was to frame questions, 2 of which we answered by drawing cards face down from our decks, the 3rd and 4th we answered by turning the cards face up, and choosing cards intentionally, either through the meanings (if we knew them) and/or responding to the images on the individual cards, and then writing more about these answers in our journals.

My secret wish is _________________________ (draw a card randomly to finish this sentence, name the card and then write a sentence or two about what it means to you).

My fear is ____________________________________ (draw a card randomly and finish the sentence).

My goal is ____________________________________ (with the cards facing up, choose a card to use to finish this sentence. Choose by meaning, if you wish, or use an unfamiliar deck, and choose solely by the image and what you read from it).

My superpower is ____________________________ (again, choose a card from the deck with the cards facing you. Use it and what it says to you to finish this sentence for yourself).

Play around with these ideas if you wish, and watch for the new classes that I am currently developing to use tarot in connection with journaling, writing, and other creative activities.

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September Full Moon 2019

I am just beginning my 51st year of studying Tarot! I find myself alternating between feeling really old (but, I did start when I was 12) and feeling awed that there is enough depth to the cards, symbols and history to keep me interested for a half a century. I also feel so fortunate to be living during a renaissance of interest in archetypes, divination systems, and symbology, as well as the opportunities for research available now in the age of the Internet. Currently there are many people doing remarkable writing (both scholarly and personal) about tarot and tarot related topics, and much of it is to be found in reasonably priced books, or again, on the Internet in the form of blogs, YouTube videos and websites.

On top of the information, new decks are being designed, produced, and written about faster than most of us can buy them. Lucky us! While I am trying to be conservative in my choices, I am certainly finding myself taking advantage of all of these new options.

I am also redesigning my own classes on Tarot that I first created in 1979 with Loui Pieper, owner of Evenstar Bookstore in the Twin Cities. She and I taught together for many, many years. But, 2019 Is a very different time than 1979, and so I am updating the structure and delivery of this material. Right now I am offering beta sessions of these new classes in a new structure, for small groups at my studio in St. Paul. I invite you to join me as I sort out what works, and have the opportunity to dive back into sharing what I have learned on this 50 year journey.

Check out the class schedule at me website, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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August 2019 Full Moon

I am excited to announce that I will be presenting again this year at the Women & Spirituality Conference September 20, 21 & 22, 2019 in Rochester, Minnesota.
This year I will be leading a session on Personal Journaling with the Tarot which combines two of my favorite activities! We will be using written and visual journaling techniques and tarot cards and images in variety of different ways to explore and play with these two distinct paths to self-reflection.
There are so many other exciting workshops and other opportunities at this conference, I hope that you have the chance to look over the schedule and consider joining us over the Fall Equinox weekend.

For more information:

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New Moon, 2 August 2019

New Moon Image

We are entering what is often referred to as the “Dog Days” of the summer. The image this brings to mind for me comes from years of living with my mother as she raised her rescue dogs, and then became intrigued with breeding brown poodles (an genetically unstable color which came about through selective breeding). Her dogs, while not larges, turned into throw rugs all over the house when the sun hit its zenith, and the humidity was high. They preferred the kitchen and bathroom floors for coolness, and their position was emphasizing as much contact with the ceramic tiles as possible. Often they would scatter themselves around the water dish, as if it was entirely too much trouble to walk more than a step or two to quench their thirst. As a kid, I thought nothing of falling to the floor next to them and enjoying the comfort available in our old, unconditioned house. 

But of course, the term comes from the Greek and Roman days and indicated the rising of Sirius, the “Dog Star” in the skies which these ancient cultures associated with heat, drought, severe storms, and bad luck in general. But for the Egyptians, the rising of Sirius which they named Sopdet, for their goddess who guaranteed their land’s fertility through the annual flooding of the Nile River. So it is perspective, and cultural experiences that color these kind of regular cycles.

For most of us August and late summer in general is vacation time. Most of Europe literally leaves en masse. Even in the overly work-oriented culture here in the states, it is acceptable to takes time off, leave the work place, and get out into nature. And that is what I find myself doing more of, whether it is heading out for the backyard with my breakfast and journal, or playing with the dogs when I arrive home after work, or lingering at dinner, or a coffee and dessert on the patio of a local restaurant. I pretend to be a better (and more committed) gardener than I am, finally planting the sad little marigold plants I bought weeks ago, and I throw my windows open (yup, still no air conditioning) to every possible breeze, even joining my own dogs on the floor in front of the fans. 

It is time to chase our interests that we seem to have no time for during the rest of the year, to be dreamy, and read widely, letting the expansiveness of the season lead us into new ideas, connections, and interests. Some of us read light entertainment, taking a break from more serious pursuits, but some of us find this is a perfect time to take large gulps of subjects and worlds we have always been tickled by, but not previously explored. The rules are melting, and we make choices without having to justify ourselves to anyone. 

So, quick, follow a passion, detour into territory you haven’t ever tried before, adventure in any way you can, physically, emotionally, intellectually. But don’t take yourself too seriously, do it for the pleasure, do it for fun, do it because you can, and right now, no one is looking, or cares. School’s out, and we are all on holiday, at least for a little while longer.

Nell Morningstar

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Full Moon in Capricorn – July 2019

Just after writing about my “Journey into Mystery” I have had a potential opportunity arise in my life. I am not going to go into details, as it is only potential, and I have no idea of how it is likely to pan out, but it has raised the stakes. I had framed my journey as an interior, psychological, and spiritual journey. This opportunity may take my journey into changes that include the physical world, and some leaps of faith that I have not entertained recently in my life.

It feels good to be challenged to think outside of my normal, familiar life. It feels exciting, but also scary. It is so easy to assume that next week, next month, next year I will be living a life relatively similar to what I live now. But there are always things that can interfere with that assumption, and that future. One is I could make choices, and take actions now that alter my current trajectory.  There are also unexpected changes that the world could offer me – some lovely and enticing, and some more terrifying and difficult to accept. Several of my friends are going through this second kind of change – physical illnesses (either their own or loved ones), job changes (wanted or not), loss of loved ones, housing challenges, and even things as seemingly simple as ageing pets. All of these can take a toll on us as the shifts and rearrangements in our lives force us to shift and change as well. 

But, as the old joke reminds us, life is hard, but not as hard as the alternative. Transitions, transformations, redefinitions, all are a regular part of our life, or if they are not, we have to ask ourselves, are we truly living? Living is not standing in a doorway, it is a constant passing through various kinds of doorways, letting ourselves be uncomfortable, and even in pain (physical/emotional/spiritual) sometimes as we move further and further from where we started, and closer to our inevitable end. 

The journey itself is our destination, and how we engage in it is our choice. I am hopeful that the changes promised by my possibilities are rewarding and bring me growth and centering. But even if these specific possibilities do not happen, I know that I have called out to the universe that I am open to change, and I am trying to accept how the universe answers – both the easy and the hard.

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New Moon 2 July 2019

Journey into Mystery

My first tarot deck was from my mother. Always a shrewd bargain hunter, she had bought both the Marseilles deck and a hardbound book by Eden Gray on heavy discount. I was thrilled when I unwrapped the gift, and I proceeded to do “readings” for anyone who would sit still. I would shuffle, and carefully layout the cards in a Celtic cross (after choosing a significator card based on the archaic  descriptions in the back of the book) and read out loud the meaning for each card. I was twelve years old. My friends were tolerant, my mother was appalled. “I didn’t mean for you to take them seriously!” she told me.

Seven years later, after finding teachers, and much more study, I began to read occasionally for money. My mother, a practical Capricorn at heart, nodded admiringly when I explained how her gift had begun to make money. And at the end of her days, helping me do inventory in the metaphysical bookstore I co-owned, she had a grudging respect for my unusual interests and hobbies.

It takes courage for many of us to pick up the tarot deck, or astrology book. Our culture squirms at exploration of mysteries beyond the traditional Judeo-Christian path, and even treading that path should be restrained, pragmatic, and preferably done in private. Artists, dreamers, and metaphysical adventurers are often lumped together with other societal fringe groups, and ignored until it is too inconvenient to continue.

The past two decades have brought technological changes the afford an opportunity for greater community for many on the fringes. Better access to information, the ability for small, niche interest groups to form and communicate across the world, and many more book distribution channels have allowed so many communities to flourish. 

We are lucky to be living when so many once secret and hidden ideas and traditions are coming out into the open. But a Mystery – even revealed in a surface manner – is still a mystery. And the awe that I, as a young girl, felt as I unraveled the deeper meaning of the tarot deck is still unique and individual to me, at that time, in that experience. Little did I know that I was embarking on a lifelong journey that has me and the direction of my life ever since.

There is still Mystery for all of us to engage with in both the cyber world, and especially in this physical world. All we have to do is open ourselves up to it, and be willing to transform in the face of the unknown, and the unexplainable. Blessings on you own journey with Mystery, however you find your way into it, and wherever it takes you.

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Full Moon in Scorpio – May 2019

It is mid-May and full moon, and the weather report has frost warnings. I haul inside the plants that have been waiting for me to plant, feeling fortunate that several days of rain have caused me to procrastinate. It is so easy to forget, even in these modern days of cars and hot water from the tap, we are still so connected to this natural world through weather. Gardening is a lesson in what we can control, and what we cannot. We come face to face with our interdependency with the physical world, and it is a useful reminder that although we are humans, capable of astounding thought and creativity, we also live in animal bodies irrevocably tied to this earth, this solar system, the sun, the moon, and the stars that fill our skies. We have both rights and responsibilities as part of this ecosystem.

After such a long winter, I am enjoying the sense of slowly waking up again to the sensual world, to the aliveness of my body, and to a renewed conversation with the plants and creatures of this land I inhabit. This week, my apple trees are in blossom, the daylilies are starting to fill out, and soon I will be planting my roses, coneflowers, and hollyhocks, and able to sit outside and enjoy the scents of mint and basil. I hope that you have a chance to spend time soaking up sun, or moonlight, and re-establishing your place in this amazing  

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New Moon in Taurus
May 2019

Spring is teasing me with the promise of infinite possibility and I can feel my senses waking up again after a long and very exhausting winter. The pale green froth of new leaves on the trees overhead, the clear blue of open skies, the blush of tulip buds, the brilliant gold of forsythia, and the secret of violet petals hiding under heart shaped leaves thrill me after months of a monochromatic landscape.

I was talking to a friend a few days ago and mentioned that I realize I am feeling disconnected from the natural world. It is time for me to get out more, to take walks, dig in the garden, and find a tree to sit near and start up a conversation. I am ready to move out of the heady, thinking space I’ve been inhabiting, and get back into my physical body, at least part of the time (I do love the world of ideas!). Spring is beckoning me into play, taking chances, attempting new and unfamiliar things, and remembering the delight of focusing on process over product in my creative work. I am packing up the sketchbooks and art supplies, the notebooks and pens and heading out to the park. Maybe I will see you out inhaling the lilacs, or indulging your bare toes in some newly green grass. 

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Meet the Family: Introduction to the Tarot Court Cards

Saturday January 12th 1 – 5 pm $25

The 16 court cards in the tarot deck present a unique way of thinking and talking about human personalities. They carry a history of elemental and astrological associations, but have also changed and evolved over the years reflecting many of the changes in both our understanding of psychology, and societal changes in our cultures.