The “Dancer Statement” – or how Tarot can word things better than I can

I’ll be auditioning next weekend for a newly forming bellydance troupe. Generally speaking a standard audition – small choreography to show, the “pop quiz”, and a small teaching demonstration. One thing that really stands out is this: “A 300-500 word personal statement on why you bellydance, what you believe you could bring to a Troupe, and how you could characterize yourself as a performer.”

Ain’t that a task! We don’t often take the time to sit down and really figure out why we do what we do – and we should. As I first began to think about who I am as a dancer, a wonderful metaphor came into being – I am the Magician and the High Priestess. These figures come from the Tarot and refer to two different important archetypes. The Magician is the creator of his/her own reality, confident, logical, and stable. The High Priestess embodies the unconscious – intuitive, non-linear, and mystical. As a dancer, I am both the creator and the creative, in the very same moment.

I then realized that 1 – that’s not 300-500 words and 2 – that doesn’t make much sense to the non-Tarot-inclined. But why shouldn’t I use the Tarot to help me flesh out the statement I’m really trying to get at?

I couldn’t think of a good reason either. I decided on a simple three card spread; giving each position a question to address:

Why do I dance: 6 of swords
Why is dance important: 7 of wands
Who am I as a dancer: the Star

Why do I dance: 6 of swords – I dance to transform emotions into power – the power to captivate and influence and inspire. In dancing, I allow myself to express things that the logical mind has no words for.

Why is dance important: 7 of wands – Dance has always been and should continue to be a powerful venue for creation, expression, and passion. We consciously create a space and community that fosters that exchange – we challenge each other to grow and dare and become more.

Who am I as a dancer: the Star – As a dancer, I am free to express joy and grief – and anything in between – in a purposeful and fulfilling way. I give myself the freedom to follow my own path and in doing so, unconsciously allow other to do the same.

What an insightful read! And this format could be used with just about anything: why do I teach, why do I seek out knowledge, why do I (insert job here)… I think you get the idea.


Runes 101, Anyone?

I’ve decided to start a little Rune study – it’s never a bad idea to go over the basics. I doubt this will be 24 consecutive days, as I’m in the middle of the semester at school and therefore, am crazy busy. So I wanted to start with the Runes as a whole.

To me, the Runes are a system – a system of magic, of divination, of letters. I like systems, they flow and work together, they speak and sing and shout their story if you’re there to listen. “Rune” itself derives from Old Norse and Old German words meaning “secret” and “whisper” and that helps understand how the Runes communicate with me.  They whisper their secrets to me as I cast them, as I read them, as I write them.

It’s somewhat difficult to put into words my connection with the Runes. I can’t help but feel that long ago my ancestors worked with the Runes: read them, spoke them, lived them. Or perhaps in a past life this soul was that of vitki (wise one) or volva (shamanic seeress).


I’ve been wanting a tattoo since I knew they existed, and I have plenty of ideas just waiting for the right time. A dear friend of mine (who happens to be a wonderful artist) has finished the design for my (first) Runic tattoo. She’s mailing it to me, and my mother has agreed to pay for it as a late Christmas gift.

This tattoo will incorporate two Runes that are very important to me: Tiwaz and Berkana.


Tiwaz is a rune that has always captivated me, and held a lot of power for me. To me, not only is Tiwaz a rune of justice and righteousness, but of willing self-sacrifice, humility, and courage.  Here’s a passage from my Rune Journey journal:

“Honor, issues of justice, courage, strength of will, sign of a spiritual warrior (“a call to arms”), leadership, willing self-sacrifice, success in legal matters, rationality, creating balance, male strengths and graces, righteousness, integrity, ability to insight courage and faith in others, following a cause with calm clarity, matters of sound judgment. Meditation: Responsibility to keep ones word, pride with humility (knowing when to be proud and when to be humble), allowing ones actions/deeds speak for themselves.”


Berkana’s influence is rather new in my life, but nevertheless powerful. Berkana speaks to my nurturing nature – my want to help, comfort, and care for people. It is a fine balance, energetically speaking, to Tiwaz. Again, here’s a bit from my journal:

“Mental/physical/personal growth, birth, renewal, new beginings, desire, a level of maturity, a signal to take sanctuary, cycle of life/death./rebirth, the powers of healing, trust and dependence, feminine strengths and graces, interrelationships and connection. Meditation: The ability to accept being dependent on other but also the ability to be the one who is depended on, mothering and nurturing.”

Sudden Inspiration

I have been working, on and off, on creating my own tarot deck. For the better part of the past year, I’ve put this project on hold, but all of a sudden, I’ve been struck with inspiration. I’ve been working away not only on the companion book but also the deck.

Here’s a little from the book:

The Astral Twilight Tarot is the product of years of reading with other decks and not having one to really call my own. Not to imply that the only way to connect to a deck to to create it; I own many decks, and love them all. Rather, this is my creations, my way to give back to the community that has given me so much. As you will see, this deck contains traditional depictions with a modern twist – my everyday life does not involve kings, angels, or (visible) hands of God. So with this deck, I’ve set out to capture the myth and magic of the Tarot using real, tangible images. Certainly this deck is not the first to do so, but it is sill an uncommon approach in the Tarot world.

I’ve decided to take people from my own life and cast them in the Tarot Court and take images and figures that inspire me and shape them to the Major Arcana. So far, I’m loving it.

Here’s a sample card – The Star:

(c) Amanda Burke

My take on the Star

My version of the Star is an image of the Pleiades star cluster. This particular image has been “turned on it’s side”, creating a cross (or arrow) with the stars, which I feel fits the idea of the Star.

Young Voices In Tarot – Angelo Nasios

Bringing you more on tarot – Yes indeed:

Young Voices In Tarot – Angelo Nasios

This is an interview by the Tarot Lady (Theresa Reed) with Angelo Nascios – a voice in the Tarot world who I greatly admire, and have talked about before.  The real meat of this interview is the topic of young readers in Tarot, professionally speaking. Of course, I’m fascinated by this, as I am (more or less) a professional reader though I do offer other readings. We have a divination discussion group at my local New Age shop, and often I am the youngest one there – but have been reading longer then some of the others!

Do we question the abilities and potential of the Fool?

I love to see readers my age, or even younger. Actually, a young woman (maybe 14) signed up for my Rune Workshop – and I was so excited because everyone else was old enough to be my mother/father. They actually didn’t realize – even as I walked back and forth from the “big room” that we hold classes in – that I was the one leading the workshop until I invited them to come in and sit down. I often hear from people after readings that they didn’t expect me to “be so good” because of my age.

All too often we forget that in spiritual matters, the age of the body can be a very misleading factor. I’ve been told all my life that I have an “old soul” and perhaps that is a factor in my affinity for divination. Maybe it doesn’t matter at all – I don’t know. Either way, it’s important to keep an open mind and heart in these sorts of matters.

It’s Not News!

So, perhaps you haven’t heard that the rotation of the earth has caused the zodiac to be all out of whack. There’s a new sign and everything!

Ophiuchus is the "new" sign in the zodiac

How is this news?

First off – Western astrology doesn’t actually use the constellations – the signs just happen to have the same names as some constellations.

Not to sound all uppity, but I’ve know about this for years – why hasn’t everyone else figured it out? Better yet, why is everyone freaking out about it? No divination system is “perfect” and astrology doesn’t have some special status in this regard. It also isn’t transparent or necessarily easy to understand. The universe is ever-changing, expanding, destroying, and creating – so this shouldn’t really surprise us. And according to this article from NBC, this earth-shifting-constellation-thing has been known about since 500 BC – yes, BC.

I just don’t get it, but I never was really big on astrology.

Also, Angelo Nasios beat me to this – with a better explanation – at his blog, Thats Totally Tarot.

A New Spin on Tarot

Tarot Insight – Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shooting.

I adore Angelo Nasios and his work with the Tarot. I’ve mentioned him here before, but this is a little different. In this linked post from his blog That’s Totally Tarot, he uses the Tarot to investigate and understand the recent shootings in Arizona.

He inspires me to use Tarot (and other divination systems) in new and unconventional ways.

~Take care and Blessed be