Celtic Wisdom Study Group - The Soul / Birch and Yew Trees/ Augury of Art


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Smile Celtic Wisdom Study Group - The Soul / Birch and Yew Trees/ Augury of Art


Here's my take on our first cards. I hope it isn't too "out there." I tried to weave the symbology of the cards into brief descriptions with spending "forever" on the divinitory meanings themselves to prevent boredom. I do like the Soul-Wisdom questions, though, and have answered them for myself in the post. Now it's YOUR turn!

If you don't like something, let me know...or change it when you choose to take up a card for study. Also, would someone mind being our Archivist so that we can build up a body of study for other newcomers who decide to join us as at a later date? Thanks for your help.

-FireRaven / Karen...or just "K"

June 27, 2005

Wisdom Card: 0 -- The Soul;
Ogham/Tree Wisdom -- Birch (Beith / "B") and Yew (Iohol / "I")
Story Card -- Augury of Art;

Wisdom Card 0...The Soul
In studying this card, the story picture speaks to me about our beginnings and everlasting quests for spiritual development and evolution. I see this in both the sleeping "Walker Between Worlds" as he lies in a state of trusting, blissful rest, while allowing his SoulSelf (my term for the Divine Spirit in all of us that always moves towards "Home" in service to others) to travel through the Gateway to the Otherworld.

The theme of "Beginnings" and the "Cycle of Spiritual Growth" are shown in the use of the Celtic Ogham Trees associated with this card. The Birch is the first to put out leaves in the spring, symbolizing new growth after lean winters whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. The Yew is one of the longest living trees in the world...a witness to the growth and evolution of all of the planet, not just an individual.

The Soul-Wisdom associated with this card is interesting to me, because I never connected how "attending to matters of the Soul" could look like "whacked out foolishness" to other people. It was something I was just driven to focus on, by both temperment, and life experiences to date. Yet, in a world that often places spending over substance, noise over solitude, and fundamentalism over lived religious and/or spiritual experiences, I can see how making time for the needs of the SoulSelf can put you at odds with the rest of the Waking World.

So...what is calling you to seek, acknowledge, empower, and manifest your deepest wisdom?

For me, it's integrating the reality of a sometimes "broken," always changing body as I life with the ups and downs of Multiple Sclerosis. I need to learn how to work with my limits while actively keeping up my studies in the Avalon Mystery School as I look to formal initiation as a Druid several years into the future as the Gods and my Mentors deem me worthy of the tasks ahead.

I'm also learning that my inner landscape is so much larger than my physical self that most everyone sees, and that gives me great hope and courage when things get tough on the physical plane.

Story Card...Augury of Art...Beltane/Summer Season on the Celtic Wheel
The suit of Art corresponds to the suit of Cups in traditional RWS decks. It marks the Summer season of Beltane on the Celtic Wheel of the Year, and is associated with the city of Muirias, the guardian Semias, and the symbol of the Cauldron.

We generally know that Cups are associated with emotions, relationships, the subconscious, dreams and astral worlds. They can also symbolize the psychic and intuitive arts, fantasy, illusion, grace, serenity, and fertility. They tend to be pleasure-seeking, and sociable, and have a strong aesthetic sense about them. Feelings and responses, the interdependence of relationships, personal loves, dreams, and fantasies can all be explored here.

In the CW Deck, Auguries represent the Aces...the seed of the suit that will eventually blossom throughout the journey of the suit itself. The Cauldron, the symbol of the suit, was the brought from the Celtic Otherworld by the Goddess Dana/Danu and represents the primal beginnings and initiations that move us out onto our Path.

This card represents the nourishment of the Cauldron...a never-ending wellspring of watery depths where no one is left wanting. Abundance, Immortality, and Inspiration are all given freely to those who seek them.

The Soul-Wisdom of this card is about growth the way abundance and growth are given freely to us...in the story depicted here, the Poet Semias, The Chanting One, sings these things into our lives as She sings over the Cauldron.

How are you being called to receive and grow? How are you responding -- with fear, excitement, caution, etc.?

I'm personally starting to grow into my own power as a whole, holy, and powerful woman of depth interiorly, which I know will eventually manifest exteriorly. I feel both excited and scared, self-conscious, yet deeply at peace as I reconcile my physical challenges with my astral freedoms and abundance. This hasn't been an easy balance for me to strike, and I keep at it daily in a never ending quest to bring the world of Spirit down to the grounded, lived experience of Earth instead of always "living in my head," and forgetting about the embodiment of Wisdom that is so necessary and precious if I'm to give back to the people around me in thanks for the opportunities I've been given.
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0 The Soul


This card came up for me a couple of days ago as my daily card, and, having not really connected with it before, I do feel as if I'm beginning to understand this card a bit better.
As Fireraven has pointed out, this card includes the "young and new" Birch tree and the "old and wise" Yew. One of the things that strikes me about this card is the theme of duality; the two trees, the two forms, one sleeping the other, spirit-form, rising and moving away.
This is not your typical "Fool" card. It does show the beginning of a journey, as you'd expect with the Fool, but this is an inner, spiritual journey. The actual body is motionless, sleeping, while the spirit body rises and moves away on its quest. The Birch signifies this sense of something beginning, something flowering, but there is also the accumulated wisdom of the quest, as symbolised by the Yew. There is the sense that the knowledge is already there, even though the journey has hardly begun. So this card encompasses both the beginning and the end; the birch and the yew, the body and the soul - separated but bound together - different but essentially the same. A paradox.
I'm not sure about the stone. It seems as if the sleeper's spirit has somehow moved through the hole in the stone - perhaps it is a gateway to other worlds, a way of marking the division between one reality and others.
Just my initial (rather waffly) thoughts...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireRaven
Also, would someone mind being our Archivist so that we can build up a body of study for other newcomers who decide to join us as at a later date? Thanks for your help.
I'd be happy to do this.
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Well, there's not much to add to Lady K's masterful introduction to these two cards, so instead I'd like to provisionally recommend a book that could be a valuable supplement to the material we already have about the CWT. It's Ogam: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees, by Paul Rhys Mountfort (Destiny Books, 2002). I say "provisional" since I bought it only yesterday and have only had a chance to skim it. It looks good, chiefly because the material comes from Mountfort's doctoral dissertation at the University of Auckland and has to have been well documented to have been accepted. Too many books like this are products of their author's fantasies rather than real scholarship. But it's not written for an academic audience and it covers both the Ogam letters and the trees associated with them and fleshes out the descriptive material with stories from the Celtic tradition quite charmingly. It's also got a lot of material on divination.
In reference to the Birch and Yew trees, while Karen mentions the Birch as the first to put out leaves and the Yew as the longest living, Mountfort's book emphasizes the association of the Birch with birth and the Yew with death (or transformation) which immediately places them at the beginning and end points of the Fool's Journey.
If anyone else familiar with this book has any comments I'd be interested.
Since I've owned my CWT less than a week and am only halfway through the companion book please forgive me for needing more time to get up to speed with the rest of you.
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"Foolish" Journeys


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo62
One of the things that strikes me about this card is the theme of duality; the two trees, the two forms, one sleeping the other, spirit-form, rising and moving away.

This is not your typical "Fool" card. It does show the beginning of a journey, as you'd expect with the Fool, but this is an inner, spiritual journey. The actual body is motionless, sleeping, while the spirit body rises and moves away on its quest. The Birch signifies this sense of something beginning, something flowering, but there is also the accumulated wisdom of the quest, as symbolised by the Yew. There is the sense that the knowledge is already there, even though the journey has hardly begun. So this card encompasses both the beginning and the end; the birch and the yew, the body and the soul - separated but bound together - different but essentially the same. A paradox.

I'm not sure about the stone. It seems as if the sleeper's spirit has somehow moved through the hole in the stone - perhaps it is a gateway to other worlds, a way of marking the division between one reality and others.
Just my initial (rather waffly) thoughts...
Leo,

I think you pointed out some great things with this card. The duality depicted is striking, though not in our current "black and white" ways of looking at the world. To me, this card shows a more organic picture of things -- that there's always another way of looking at or doing things, another view to consider, another choice to make. Of course, the hard part is that at a certain point, we have to make choices. We can't stay in the "analysis" stage forever. So it is with every journey, I think!

Your point about how the birch and the yew "bookend" this card was insightful. The sense that one is "just starting" and at the same time, has all the inner Wisdom he or she needs to move on the Path of Life is a profound truth that confounds me during times of turmoil...and yet, with the gift of hindsight reminds me that I've been moving ahead, no matter how incrementally, all along.

As for the standing stone, I think the symbol of it as a gateway is accurate. I also wonder if it might represent the first "test" of a Seeker -- that first challenge which either confirms the Seeker's sincerity, or denies it. In this card, our Dreamer has passed through the stone. My question is "What did he have to do to make it that far?"

-FireRaven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireRaven
As for the standing stone, I think the symbol of it as a gateway is accurate. I also wonder if it might represent the first "test" of a Seeker -- that first challenge which either confirms the Seeker's sincerity, or denies it. In this card, our Dreamer has passed through the stone. My question is "What did he have to do to make it that far?"
Good question - and one I don't have an answer for! It reminds me of the World card in a way; the end of one journey is the beginning of another. This ties in with the symbolism of the spiral, which underpins this deck (as well as appearing on the card backs!) - each journey (or life) is another turn on the spiral. So the Fool - or the soul - circles round from end to beginning, from birch to yew. From what I understand "celtic" peoples believed in the transmigration of souls. In this deck, the soul card perhaps points to a new incarnation as well as a new journey or stage in life.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fyreflye
In reference to the Birch and Yew trees, while Karen mentions the Birch as the first to put out leaves and the Yew as the longest living, Mountfort's book emphasizes the association of the Birch with birth and the Yew with death (or transformation) which immediately places them at the beginning and end points of the Fool's Journey.
Thanks for the book reference Fyreflye. The association of the Birch and Yew with the beginning and end of the journey (and life) makes sense, particularly as they are the first and last letters of the ogham system that Caitlin uses in this deck (I think there are extra letters in other systems). I must say, I have always struggled to make a connection with the ogham...until the other day when I read the description in the CW book. Caitlin describes reading the ogham from bottom to top and likens it to climbing a tree - left hand, right hand, then both hands around the tree (or something like that...). Suddenly a light came on in my mind! I felt I could finally relate these symbols to something real that people use rather than a random collection of scratches.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireRaven
As for the standing stone, I think the symbol of it as a gateway is accurate. I also wonder if it might represent the first "test" of a Seeker -- that first challenge which either confirms the Seeker's sincerity, or denies it. In this card, our Dreamer has passed through the stone. My question is "What did he have to do to make it that far?"
When I first saw the standing stone on the Soul card I couldn't help but think of a grave stone and the area surrounding it as a graveyard. Then I began to wonder about the mysterious spiral of energy that seems to flow through its cauldron shaped opening. The stone reminds me of the Augury of Knowledge and its cauldron the Augury of Art. Pethaps the image is meant to suggest the Soul's newest incarnation into our world of dreams (as taught by the Indian sages who were the ancestors of the Celts) and the Soul's Journey between life and death as a quest to uncover the reality revealed when the sleepwaker through life awakens. I know that in their Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom the Matthews' describe the three major chakras in the human energy body as cauldrons and the awakening process as a form of Yoga.
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Augury of Art


One thing that occurred to me that the book doesn't mention (or not as far as I've read...). I think the Celtic otherworldly cauldron is the pre-Christian model for the Holy Grail. In Celtic lore, the cauldron dwells in an otherworldly city but can be accessed through art, story prophecy. It represents a wellspring of inspiration, vision and bounty.
By the time we get to the Grail, access to it has been lost, and the tales become obsessed with the quest to find it again. I suppose this ties in with medieval christian ideology surroundin the Fall; humankind is in exile from the divine abundance represented in christian theology by the garden of Eden, and in Celtic lore by the cauldron. I guess it says something about collective human development; the iron-age Celts had access to something that the medieval Christians perceived themselves to have lost...
Lets hope we can move on (not back) to a renewed sense of sacred abundance in our lives.
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Oh well almost a year later here stumbels in a "newbe"


I just got this deck recently and am moved by the artwork and the challenge to learn some more about the Celts.....
Somehow it seems to me that the lad is asleep in a grave yard -- maybe near the grave of one of his ancestors and there he goes on a dream-journey into wisdom.....
However when I see the card lX the Counselor ... are we looking at the same guy, years later, gray haired old wise fool with his dog at his side???
Or is the O =The Fool... the young hermit seeking wisdom via dreaming????
Mi-Shell
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