Pet & Tarot Stories: Martha and Zena - cardslinging, reiki-channeling, and herbal oil blending

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Pet & Tarot Stories Q&A

In this post, award-winning artist, Certified Essential Oil Therapist and Reiki Master Martha Brown will share with you some of her experiences towards slinging cards for her dogs, and how she combines her essential oil and reiki practice to channel intuitive insights + give her pet "power boosts" and loving healing energy when she needs it.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your pet(s)!

I am 63 yrs. old and have always had one or two dogs in my life.  I am an award-winning artist, Certified Essential Oil Therapist and Reiki Master, and I live in Canada.  In recent years I have been self employed working out of my home, allowing plenty of time to give my pets tons of love and attention. 11 years ago we adopted 2 black lab/ German Shepard sisters at 8 weeks old. It was a real challenge to train them at the same time, but they have given us so many years of companionship and fun. Zena, who suffers from hip dysplasia now, is my constant partner. Her sister Zoey had to be put down last year due to Degenerative Myelopathy- her back end slowly became paralyzed. She had wheels to help her get around, extending her quality of life for an extra year and a half.

What are your thoughts on slinging cards for animals?

It’s a way to communicate with them. I believe that I channel information. It can come from my own guides, or that of other people, so it’s not that hard to imagine our pets having their own guides that can relay messages. So many times we wonder what our pets would say to us if they could talk. The cards can relay the messages.

If you were to assign one card to represent the personality of your pet(s), which would it be and why?

Zena has told me that she is the 10 of Cups right now because she feels all the love and has all that she needs. But she is also incredibly intuitive, often pulling me away from negative situations/people or reminding me that I am being distracted by something that is eating into my time. So in many ways she is also the Moon. I think the cards that represent them can change over time, based on circumstances – the same way different cards can represent humans at different times in their lives.

Aside from forms of divination (such as tarot cards, oracle cards and pendulums etc), are there any other spiritual, energetic, or holistic practices that you have with/for your pet(s)? E.g. reiki, chakra healing, essential oils etc. What are your experiences?

I often have performed Reiki on both of my dogs. With this kind of therapy, one always must ask for permission first. I hold my hands at a distance of about 1 ft. and ask, do you want this? They will either roll over, nudge my hand, relax or walk away. Dogs know what they need better than we do. They will also walk away when they have had enough. I do know that the heat from my hands and the energy I channel helps them on some level. And if nothing else, they have just basked in the attention they are getting! I use Tarot and Oracle cards to have a conversation with them  and have made some very mild Essential Oil blends to use as insect repellants, shampoo and conditioner blends, skin treatments and aromatherapy. Dogs’ sense of smell is 40 timest that of humans, so we have to be careful to not overwhelm them with scents.

Do you think animals make better tarot readers or diviners (hehe)? Why or why not?

I really don’t think Zena would be at all interested in reading cards.  Well, maybe If cheese was involved, J, but otherwise, she’d rather go for a walk.  Although this question does have me wondering what might happen if I laid a few cards dow in front of her – if she would point her nose toward one!

I do know that animals communicate with us based on visual information – either what they see in front of them, or the images you project to them. Words don’t really apply to the communication process, however tone of voice is something they are definitely sensitive to. They don’t dwell on the past or feel sorry for themselves. They learn from experience and have very simple basic needs that are very important to them and as pack animals, they thrive on companionship.

What is an interesting reading that you have done for your pet(s)? What question did you ask? What cards showed up? What were their message?

I took a class at a local new age bookstore last year on Animal Communication. We were paired up into groups of 4 and shared pictures of our pets. At least 2 at the table would practice “reading” your pet from the image provided. My pictures had both dogs in them, showing Zoey in her wheels. We didn’t have Tarot or other cards to support what we sensed. One woman that read my dogs let the images get in the way of the truth. Zena, the one with hip dysplasia, was the one in pain – not Zoey in her wheels who had back-end paralysis. She even drew the teacher aside for a private conversation in a closet~! before she would tell me what she saw. She jumped to several conclusions about my dogs until I explained the situation. When I got home, I looked at Zena and asked, what do you make of all that? I drew a card. It was the Moon reversed. Zena looked at me with those big brown eyes -  like, “Martha, she is just plain NUTS and you know better.”

It was a very matter of fact, practical, no nonsense exchange between the two of us.

How are the tarot archetypes or symbols different when you are reading for animals (vs reading for humans)?

I don’t think dogs relate to symbols or several of the layers of emotions that we carry around with us. They are highly visual, so I think the images themselves are what they can relate to, in regards to what matters to them. A queen sitting on a throne isn’t likely to get up and take them for a walk, but the Fool with his dog would be something they could get excited about!

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 How would you interpret the major arcana in an animal context?

I think the journey for them thru the Majors is more simplified. Their goals, triumphs and challenges are different.  I think they might best represent what they need to survive and thrive.

The simple needs of shelter, security, routine, good food and clean water, structure and discipline, sleep and rest, companionship, free from disease, avoidance to protect themselves (fight or flight) and their humans along with a need for variety and activity – could possible reduce the Majors down to fewer cards. An Empress offering up indulgent treats would draw their interest. There have also been reports that they can sense the onset of labour. Some dogs need a sense of purpose or service, so this kind of support might best be illustrated by the sacrifice offered up by the Hanged Man. They might see the Emperor as the alpha male and the Hermit as someone not interested in interacting with them. Strength or the Chariot would represent effective, kind, but stern discipline. The Devil would call for bad habits to come to an end and a need for greater responsibility, Temperance could address nutrition issues – something to be added to the diet or exercise routine for better health. The Fool would also recommend more daily outings. The Lovers could be asking for more attention more often.

 How would you interpret the numbered cards in minor arcana in an animal context?  

What would the 4 suits or 4 elements come to represent?
I think the elements hold true for all life forms. The balance required may vary based on species or type of living thing, but they each have high value.  The Pentacles would represent health and food and physical care. The Swords would represent getting out for fresh air and space, discipline and wisdom from lessons learned. The Wands would be about energy and enjoyment of life and the Cups would be about the intuition and need for companionship, perhaps even an enjoyment of swimming in a lake or a trip to the beach.

 How would you interpret the court cards in an animal context?

I would interpret them very close to the RWS charateristics, but see them as the kind of pet owners that could vary greatly based on the kind of pets they would respond best to. The Sword court characters would do best with cats, I believe, or breeds that are a bit aloof or independent, even reptiles. The Cups would definitely be dog lovers, but it would be easy to imagine one having an aquarium full of exotic tropical fish. The Wands could relate more to horses, farm animals – larger breeds that require a great deal of exercise and space. Pentacle court characters would likely love all living things and would be interested in purebreds, breeding and perhaps even becoming veterinarians. I read reversals, so the reversed of these characters could represent those who neglect animals, abuse them, view them as possessions, have way too many of them to properly care for or breed them irresponsibly. Animals respond to how they are raised and treated so it’s important to match the animal to the personality/ability of the owner. The court cards can illustrate a past owner, what they seek/need from you or how they see you. 

Any insight that you have/something you’ve learned while reading tarot cards for animals.

I think our approach to reading for pets should be simplified and we should avoid giving them human traits and concerns. Their world view is different from ours, and what matters to them isn’t nearly as complicated as we might imagine. The cards can help us develop our intuition and provide images and information that their guides can relate to and use to convey a message.