Posts Tagged ‘The Herbcrafter's Tarot’

To nonherbalists, this card’s description with so much emphasis on fire cider may seem odd. It is not. A few years ago, four herbalists went to federal court to prevent a company from trademarking the term “fire cider,” which is a loose recipe that has been around since the 1970s. I make this brew every autumn in preparation for cold and flu season – and let me tell you that the suggestion to boost your boldness with a shot of this stuff every morning is on point! It’s a strong and spicy concoction that will open up the sinuses and boost the circulation. But this is just one example of how we have and can reclaim traditions for our modern lives. How will you defend the grandmothers’ teachings? Just a quick note that tomorrow begins my tradition of using the Halloween Oracle all through October, though this year I might occasionally reach for the Tarot Familiars.


Adelita of Fire – Cayenne

Dare to take a risk – be bold; defend the integrity of the grandmothers’ teachings; heat erupts, then heals

A young woman makes a spice vinegar called fire cider. She gathers ingredients: garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and vinegar. She grips the side of a molcajete with one hand while crushing peppers with the other. The golden winters sun casts a divine glow on her workspace.

Meaning: The Adelita of Fire fiercely defends her passion and her rights. Like the warm, stimulating medicine of cayenne pepper, she is bold and relentless in her advocacy. She vows to protect folk traditions. She know that access to this ancient remedy may be threatened. She is determined to honor the ancestors by keeping the people’s medicine available to all. She is inspired by countless teachers who have freely shared information with her as she has learned about herbal medicine. She fights for the integrity of the community by passing on what has been given to her. She inspires others to follow her lead.

Crafting with the Adelita of Fire

• Stand up to corporate greed: craft your own fire cider.

• Empower others: host a community fire cider-making party in your home.

• Boost your boldness: begin each day with a shot of fire cider.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Colbert Powell

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Alright, after being MIA for two days (mornings have been a little busy so far), we are back with card that makes me smile. I love plantain and know of a few good uses for it, though many consider it a weed.

Enjoy your day!

Ace of Water – Plantain

Follow your heart; trust your instincts and intuition; your capacity for love is limitless

It is the height of summer. A gently flowering river is lined with lush vegetation. At the edge of the bank, a healthy plantain plant spreads its strong green leaves along the ground in all directions. The tiny white flower petals from the shape of a halo surround each stalk. Bees are drinking water from the riverbed. The air is cool with a breeze from the glacier above.

Meaning: New experiences can cause a wellspring of feelings. Open your heart to spiritual guidance. Take a fresh look at an ancient calling of soul. Plantain is a prolific yet powerful medicine that is easily missed; to embody the love you desire, you may need to see it in a new light. Mixed with a bit of water, this unassuming weed gently heals wounds from bites and stings. A simple, compassionate approach to a surge of emotions can have the most meaning. Small strings form a rib-like structure within the leaves that give it strength. Nourish your emotions and trust your feelings. The threads of joy point the way to wisdom.

Crafting with the Ace of Water:

• Seek out the plantain in nature. Let it lead your walk. Look for auguries and signs on your journey.

• Make plantain ice cubes to have on hand for healing wounds that sting.

• Shape plantain flower stems into hearts and leave them as gratitude offerings.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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OK, this is an appropriate card for me today! Last night, the women’s group got together to design and paint our own hex signs (as in the Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs often found on barns). We’ve been interested in some different folk art and folk magics, so last time we discussed the history and meaning of the signs. Having seen some of the hex signs on barns as a child – I had family in Lancaster and other counties in Pennsylvania – I’ve always been intrigued by them. The primary pattern I chose was the Mighty Oak; you can see the work in progress below.

Another woman chose a Tree of Life for her sign, and yet another had a lot of the colors found in today’s card. Weird coincidence – or is it? Anyway, this lovely card speaks both to the season we are in the Northern Hemisphere and to slowing down and working on things so they last, whether that be a craft, your home, your career, or whatever.

Enjoy the day!

Seven of Earth – Oak

Live by the rhythms of the earth; work slowly and steadily toward your goal; plant for the generations to come.

A large tree stands gracefully at the edge of a lush lawn. The pages of a local field guide are open to Oak. A handmade basket sits on the grass, full of collected acorns. The sky is blue on this crisp fall day. The leaves are beginning to turn; several float down to the earth.

Meaning: Knowing nature is key to knowing the self. Your legacy is intertwined with the moss and trees. Oaks are slow going, long-lived sovereigns of the land. Like the oak, you have worked hard and gathered your awards. When it is time to build your future, listen for the call of the earth. Oaks grow only about one foot per year. Be patient; trust your vision to manifest in its own time. Furniture made from oak wood is durable and hearty. As Texans said on seeing a 1,000-year-old oak standing after Hurricane Harvey, “You don’t get old by being weak.” Have faith in your work. The fruits of your labor will last beyond your lifetime. Look at the pace of nature for guidance. The seasons will give you direction.

Crafting with Seven of Earth:

• Make an acorn necklace to remind you to slow down and live in alignment with the seasons.

• Take a basket weaving class. Work on your craft.

• Study the ethnobotany of the land where you live.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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What a lovely card to start of the week with – even if today is still a holiday for some of us. Be vulnerable and be strong.

The Empress – Rose

Be vulnerable, yet strong; nurture love and compassion; see beauty and abundance in every stage of life.

A honey-colored work table is veered in wild roses. Fall leaves are arrayed in a crown. The seeds of fat, juicy rose hips spill out next to pink heart-shaped petals. Buds and flowers lie on a honeycomb. Red chiles form a triskele pointing to a flaming heart. A stone bead of the Woman of Willendorf, a representative of the Great Mother, is strung onto a rosary.

Meaning: Healing the heart heals the world. Learn to be vulnerable yet strong like the delicate petals of the rose protected by thorns. Roses uplift the spirit and inspire love. Embody sensuality in bold, vibrant ways. Let creativity and abundance flourish around and within you. Wild roses are prolific, creating food, medicine, and shelter for all who encounter them. As all parts of the rose contain medicine, every stage of your life find passionate expression. Create, make, love, play. It is a fertile, generative time.

Crafting with the Empress

• Arrange rose thorns and petals together on your altar to cultivate vulnerability and strength.

• Create a rosary out of rose buds, rose hips, or dried rose petal beads for love and compassion.

• Celebrate the many stages of life by learning the remedies for each season of the rose: Rose buds for childhood, full blooms for midlife, and hips for elder hood.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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It’s easy to live life in the shallows – you don’t have to worry so much about the tides and you know whatever doodles you create in the sand are temporary. Try to dive deeper and find a meaning that lies beneath the waters of life – emotions and healing. Blessings!

Curandera of Water – Seaweed

Don’t live in the shallows – live in the depths; strengthen your bones in the ocean’s ebb and flow; rock gently the water – heed the siren’s song

An old bathtub is filled with seaweed next to a window decorated with candles, shells, and a mermaid figurine. Towels, soaps, and bath salts are at hand. The view through the window is a sparkling ocean. Luscious greenery hangs in every corner of the room. An old woman adds hot water to the bath from an antique cast iron kettle.

Meaning: The Curandera of Water flows through life with ease. She neither hides her feelings nor lets them overtake her. She understands emotions have cycles too, and she easily navigates their changes. She remembers that our first home was the sea, and to the sea we shall return. She makes time for daily rituals that bring deep healing. She washes away inner turmoil as she cleanses and bathes. She knows seaweed nourishes her body and she enjoys snacking on the tasty treat. People are drawn to her open heart and comforting embrace. Her counsel brings a sense of calm and well-being.

Crafting with the Curandera of Water:

• Spend time watching seaweed in the ocean; wade in and let your body feel the rhythm.

• Strengthen your bones: snack on kelp and eelgrass (or maybe sit outside in the sun for some Vitamin D).

• Restore your connection to the sea: enjoy a seaweed bath at home.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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This deck is from 2019, but this card feels like it speaks directly to many of us for the past year and a half. With limitations in place for many of us for safety’s sake (whether mandated or of our own making), many of us have felt the effects of being isolated and removed from our support network. We have learned some alternatives, but as things tighten up again we may have to be even more creative both to receive the support we need and to provide support for others. We are still community.



Five of Earth – Slippery Elm

Sooth the pain of those in need; even the wounded can heal; you have the skills it takes to survive any crisis

A slippery elm sapling sits in the empty yard of a beloved home that has white paint chipping from its sides and boarded-up windows. Wind supports are in place and the tender trunk is protected from deer by a circle of bamboo. The home is old and in need of repair, but it is sturdy. The old black chairs rock in the wind.

Meaning: Economic and physical hardship may cause stress. Setbacks can take you by surprise and reduce vitality. Alienation from your support system compounds the issue. While slippery elm is a valued botanical; for the first few years of life the bark provides medicine for inflammation and materials for baskets. Its health is threatened by Dutch elm disease. All trees eventually become susceptible.

Slippery Elm teaches us that even in hard times we have access to our resources if we do not lose faith. You have the skills to protect what remains and make it through the crisis. Create a warm and comforting place to hole up while your situation improves.

Crafting with the Five of Earth:

• Take slippery elm lozenges to sooth a stomach upset by worry and stress.

• Honor the gifts of slippery elm. Support United Plant Savers’ efforts to protect this plant.

• Take a wild skills class and learn to make containers from slippery elm bark.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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Rosemary is easily my favorite herb, and I can verify it’s power to sharpen the mind as well as flavor a dish! Today is a day for the mind, for communication, and to listen.

Curandera of Air – Rosemary

Adopt a story and pass it on; with pen, song or brush, tell your story; what is remembered lives

A wild and unruly rosemary bush grows on the side of a garden shed. The building’s blue paint is weathered and in need of a fresh coat. Some of the rosemary branches are starting to produce small purple flowers. An old woman grips a bundle of fresh sprigs in her hand, her arm decorated with a faded wing tattoo. She offers it up to the sky.

Meaning: The Curandera of Air is calm and collected. She agrees with what Chogyam Trungpa taught about spiritual materialism: “Wisdom is not an ancient relic to be collected but inspiration for new awareness.” She knows the medicine of rosemary enhances cognitive function. Her mind is sharp and quick but she talks very little. She understands that words have wings, so she speaks only when she has something meaningful to offer. She is a wonderful listener. She ays, “Tell me more.” People are drawn to her honesty. Just as rosemary clears the mind, her couple bring clarity and inspires peace.

Crafting with the Curandera of Air:

• Call a story circle: make a rosemary crown to be worn by a storyteller.

• Enhance your memory: add fresh rosemary to your cold water.

• Inspire your writing: being your journal session with a rosemary palm inhalation.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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The Hanged card often makes people nervous, but the plant energies of burdock are here to show you to make a poor situation into a good one. Don’t fear this card; see it as a challenge. The question is: are you up to the challenge?

Have a good weekend!

The Hanged One – Burdock

Embrace a foe as a friend; tap into nourishment found in the depths; let go of control – lasting change takes time

A cup of tea placed over a large burdock leaf reflects on the naked tree outside the window. A large clean root rests on the table, the tendrils forming the shape of the hanged one, legs crossed like the numeral four. Burdock root runes spill out from their blue velvet bag toward alit beeswax candle.

Meaning: Challenge presents an opportunity for growth. Though burdock is a tenacious weed, it can also be a valuable plant. The presence of burdock may indicate where the land is lacking nutrients. Using the large leaves as much can bring nourishment to the surface. When the leave break down, the soil will improve and burdock will no longer have the conditions to to thrive. Flip the script on a difficult situation. See the problem as the solution. Burdock is also a valuable ally for the liver as it helps clear and release toxins. But healing the land or the body requires a long-term commitment. Surrender to the process. Deep change takes time.

Crafting with the Hanged One:

• Invite burdock to shift your perspective. Sit with it in the wild, harvest it, cook with it.

• Tap into wisdom. from the depths by crafting burdock root runes for divination.

• Enjoy a slow cup of burdock tea. As you sip, silently release all that is keeping you stuck.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artists Joanna Powell Colbert

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Damiana is legendary in the herbal world as an aphrodisiac and to help with sexual issues, though its herbal benefits don’t end there. Here, a Curandera uses it to inspire us to love ourselves and to reignite a sense of pleasure and power.

Curandera of Fire – Damiana

Love yourself (old ain’t dead); Indulge yourself with sensual bliss; come home to pleasure, power, and passion

A red crystal vase of damiana elixir sits on a pink lacy altar cloth with a single glass. A beeswax candle illuminates symbols of sensuality: a voluptuous mermaid, a yoni-shaped geode, and cowrie shells. Copal resin is in the vial and burns from a smoky cauldron. Roses are scattered around fresh cuttings of a damiana plant. An elder woman places her hands upon the table making the shape of the sacred triangle, the gateway to life.

Meaning: The Curandera of Fire defies conventional norms. She remains whole unto herself, wild and free. She is a champ of female sexual power. She understand the important of self-love rituals. Just as damiana ignites passion, she adores the power of human desire and welcomes sensuality of all kinds. She knows a passionate life comes from living what you love; thus she honored her creative cauldron with luxurious ceremony. She says, “Delight in yourself.” People are drawn to her vivacious personality. Her counsel brigs pleasure and inspires direct action.

Crafting with the Curandera of Fire:

  • Restore exhausted dreams and pleasures; make damiana incense to awaken the senses.
  • Honore your inner power; build a self-love alar and create a sensual ceremony.
  • Indulge in passionate bliss: make damiana chocolate liquor. Share it with a lover or keep it to yourself!

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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Have you been starting to reconnect with friends and other community members after the long pandemic? I know that’s where I am, and it does feel good to meet with people again and have real conversations (they don’t always flow well for groups on Zoom). We do need to be careful not to overextend ourselves as we readapt, but perhaps it’s time to reach out.

Blessings and have a great week!

Six of Earth – Pine

Ground yourself in community; share your resources – your generosity will circle back to you; the soul remains evergreen

A circle of ancient stones surrounds a warm fire. A rustic pine table shows small muslin bundles adorned with red string, pine sprigs, and cones – bundles made with friends at Solstice. The sun has set and moonlight glows across the field. The shadow of a rich evergreen forest is seen beyond the meadow.

Meaning: Life is generative. Share with friends. Support each other in times of plenty and times of lack. Celebrate what you have. Pine is an evergreen tree that keeps its needles all year, providing medicine, materials for baskets, and shelter for forest creatures. It is a living embodiment of everlasting life. As the pine is gracious with its resources, be generous with this in need. Honor the people and land that have provided you with the foundation, security, and resources on which you now rely. Gather the community together and teach what you know. Recognize the bounty in your life. Look fro ways to share your abundance with others.

Crafting with the Six of Earth:

• Walkin a pine forest with friends to release the old and make way for the new.

• Learn to weave pine needs baskets to gather your bounty.

• Drin tea from freshly gathered pine needles for renewal and regeneration.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot by author Latisha Guthrie and artist Joanna Powell Colbert

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