When the weather cooperates, I love to do tarot readings outside. I fill a bag with supplies, don my rubber boots, and set off, usually with my canine companion, Balin.
My house is on the edge of a small village, and from my house, I can just walk for a few minutes and be in the woods, following deer trails as they meander and wend through bog, forest, and field.
Deer are a sacred animal for me, an animal of the goddess. Deer are uncannily perceptive, with acute hearing and keen vision, and they represent wisdom and heightened awareness. There are those who believe that deer trace trails which follow the earth’s energy lines. When I walk deer trails, I feel like I am able to absorb deer energy, tune my mind in to deer’s perception and awareness. Following deer trails is also an act of remembering our hunter-gatherer past, when our ancestors regularly walked deer trails, stalking the deer and moving as a group with the herd.
I hike with no destination in mind – I just intuitively follow the deer paths doing a walking breathwork meditation, or silently watching and listening, smelling, feeling… paying keen attention to my surroundings. In my heightened awareness, details spring to my attention, colours seem enhanced. I hike until I intuitively reach a place I know is right for pulling out my cards, usually a nice swath of dry moss of a natural altar of a large rock or fallen tree. I clean the moss of branches and sticks, create a sacred space with candles and crystals, then lay the cards. I record the reading in my journal, spending around 20 minutes or so with the cards, then snap a photo before packing up. I leave the flowers and an offering such as honey to the devas.
A few years ago, I took my dog for a snowless winter walk. We hiked to a favorite, almost daily haunt, a place of power in a mossy spruce forest on the edge of the brook where I often go to sit in the base of five old grown-together spruces. As I sat, my chocolate lab did his usual exploring and sniffing, and after a short time, he came trotting up to me, offering me something in his mouth. A shed deer antler, small, from a first year buck. Such a beautiful gift! Two days later, we went to the same spot. “Find another bone,” I told my dog. And sure enough, within a few minutes he came back with another antler. An almost perfect mirror image, without a doubt from the same deer. The skull-end of the antler was still pink and slightly wet with blood, so I knew it had just been freshly dropped. The odds that a deer would drop his antlers in the same spot on different days just seem so small, and in a spot I regularly go to meditate, a place I had left offerings of beads and crystals – I was and am honored with such a great gift.
When I do readings inside and cannot walk the deer trails, I often have my antlers with me as my connection to deer. Spiritually, antlers represent antennae or conduits beaming Divine knowledge and wisdom into the skull. My gift from the deer spirits.
Just this past winter, 25 years after I bought my first deck, as I was just starting to seriously consider taking the plunge to reading tarot professionally, and not just for myself, my friends and my family, I had a beautiful encounter with deer. There is a small pond next to my house, and in the winter when the ice is fit I love to skate on it. I have always loved skating outdoors at night, under the stars. This particular night, I went out by myself, at nearly 11 pm. The moon was just beginning to wane from full, so bright, and a silent hush of snow was falling, making the whole night seem otherworldly. I glided in the silence for over an hour. As I knelt on the edge of the pond to remove my skates, I heard a rustle from the bushes nearby. A buck came walking out of the brush not twenty feet from me. He snorted, then ran to the far end of the pond. Some more rustling, then a mother and her baby stood up, walked a few feet, then just stood, regarding me. I stood still, and we looked into each others eyes for what felt like an eternity, the mother doe and I. The buck snorted again impatiently to the doe, and she looked to him, then back at me, before slowly walking towards her mate. As she did, another two deer stood up from the bushes and ran along to join the others. My message was to go ahead with my dreams, that I had gifts of deer perception and wisdom. I had her blessing.