Sunday, 21 December 2014

Yule Tarot Blog Hop - The Joy of Gift-Giving

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Chlöe's Inner Whispers blog or the TABI blog (also by Chlöe). Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here!

Photo courtesy
Today is the Winter Solstice, for those of us in the northern hemisphere – the solar festival sacred to the Old King and to the reborn ‘Sun Child’, whom we find in various incarnations – Mithras, the Mabon, Jesus.  Solstice means ‘sun still’, and refers to the sun seemingly being at a standstill – its turning point, the ‘shortest day’.  Up to now, the hours of daylight have been decreasing, the nights longer.  Today though, the sun ‘stands still’, the Wheel of the Year seems to stop, and time appears to hang...but from now on the light will start to increase and days will lengthen. So, the sun stands still, the Wheel of the Year seems to stop, and time appears to hang.

Photo courtesy
The Winter Solstice also marks the festival of Yule. Days later, Christmas arrives. Kwanzaa is also celebrated around this time (26 December-1 January). Hanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, is already well underway this year, having started on the 16th, ending on the 24th.  Many of these traditions involve gift-giving, the theme of this year’s Yule Tarot Blog Hop. 

It seems that the concept of Christmas presents goes back to the Romans, when high-ranking officials were expected to give the Emperor a present on the festival of the Kalends (apparently corresponding to 1 January). Originally the gift were simply branches from evergreen trees that grew in the grove of the goddess Strenia, but later cakes and honey were given, representing wishes of a year of sweetness and prosperity.  The Christian nativity story involves gifts too – the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh carried from the east by the magi.  In Catalonia, it’s traditional for children to be given their presents by the three kings on the night of 5th January.

Our wranger, Arwen, has asked us to write about the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts, through her lovely spread. I'm using the Wildwood Tarot (created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections).

  1. What gift would you give the world if you could?             

The Pole Star (17)
The Pole Star, still thought of as THE fixed star in the sky (although it isn’t really), offers a guiding light by which to navigate the waters of life. (No, AC, AM and VK, not whisky!)  It requires a sort of faith to follow it, but that’s what I would give – hope, faith, guidance.

    The Hooded Man (9)
  1. What gift would you want from the world?  

Time to withdraw and rest!  It’s winter in this image of the Hooded Man, a time to go within and prepare to plant new seeds.  Just what I need... a time to stand still, just like the sun on the solstice – the time of year associated with this card in the Wildwood.  The wren is a secret keeper of wisdom, a perfect companion for the Hooded Man (although not me, perhaps!) and was considered to be an oracle.  As I have just received an oracle deck as a gift (thank you TABI!), I could use this time to learn how to use it.

  1. What gift have you received that has brought you joy?                 

Six of Bows
Six of Bows – Abundance.  I have been blessed with abundance this year, in many shapes and forms, all of which have brought me great joy.  The Wildwood’s version of the card is less about public acclaim and ‘victory’, and more about reaping the rewards of our work or actions – and I suppose if I had to pick one specific thing that brought me abundance, it would have to be selling my house....

Three of Vessels - Joy
... but I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of two very good friends…

  1. What gift have you given that has brought you joy?        

Six of Vessels - Reunion
Six of Vessels – Reunion.  It’s actually hard to separate this from the gift I’ve received, because the ‘abundance’ has allowed me to give this gift, and the ‘reunion’ has in turn given me a sense of increased abundance.  This is all about the importance of family and extended family and friends – keeping them close in my heart, even though many of them are thousands of miles away.  The otter here is definitely significant – crossing water in order to reach different land!  Past memories too have been kept alive by staying in touch with not only my friends but also my parents’ friends – just last week I spent a happy hour on the phone with my mother’s best friend reminiscing about all the happy times our families enjoyed together. At the end of our conversation, she told me how much joy that call gave her – but it gave me just as much pleasure!

    The Sun of Life (19)
  1. What is one last thing you would like to share about this season?           

The Sun!  I wish you all great joy, good health, harmony - and a year full of creativity!

Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Yule Tarot Blog Hop -  please do come back and read some of my other posts.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Chlöe's Inner Whispers blog or the TABI blog (also by Chlöe). The Master List can be found here.


  1. Love that the sun is the last card!!

  2. Also loving the Sun card!! It makes me groan - come back soon! :D

  3. So nice to see Wildwood Tarot in action! Thank you!

  4. I always like Wil Worthington's art. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. I liked the Hooded Man showing up. I need that.

  6. Lovely cards and readings, gorgeous heart warming gratitude! How perfect for the sun to appear in the depths of winter :)

  7. aha! Whisky!! Very funny :-D Great reading and so glad to see that you've had a great year. May 2015 bring more of the same! Ali xxxx

  8. I love the reminder of this beautiful deck, haven't used it in too long! Congratulations on selling your house. And I was especially moved by the gift of reunion :) Hope to see you again this year! Chloë xxx