Returning to self in the hectic season of giving

There’s this wonderful moment of calm that arrives once the last Christmas posting dates have passed.

After the frenzy of present-buying and anxious enquiries and lugging sackfuls of parcels to the Post Office several times a day, suddenly… ahhhh. Peace. Calm.

From the Wanderer’s Tarot by Casey Zabala

I have a real soft spot for the orders that come in during this time – they have a different quality somehow.

Where the lead-up to Christmas is so much about what we give others, the turning of one year into the next is an opportunity to turn that focus around to ourselves.

To our end-of-year reflections, to our hopes and dreams for the coming year.

And seeking new tools, new images, new artwork, to bring on that journey. The orders placed in late December and early January tend to reflect this vibe. Somehow, they feel calmer.

I didn’t do the ubiquitous Christmas ‘gift guides’ this year – I figured most of you already knew what you wanted to get the special people in your life (or they’ve told you!) and decided not to add to the inbox clamour.

Instead, today I’d love to present you with gift ideas that are all for you.

Here’s my personal guide to the decks, books and other items that I feel bring a sense of spaciousness and calm reflection. These are my own favourites, items I am turning to myself right now as I wrap up 2018 with a mixture of gratitude and grief, and look to 2019 with hope and love.

Calm, spacious tarot decks

The Mesquite Tarot is a small, simple deck painted in muted tones and focused on creating space to hear ourselves feel. It comes with its own detailed guidebook. The White Sage Tarot is another restful-hued deck, filled with gentle animals to guide your reading. And the ever-popular Starchild Tarot is ethereal and dreamlike. Illustrated with geometry and landscape in gorgeous digital collage, this deck is favoured by lightworkers. (The Starchild Tarot comes in two sizes – I personally prefer the larger size but the regular deck is more popular in the shop!)

Self-care books

If you’re a creator or online business owner caught in the struggle of finding time for personal/spiritual practice amongst The Work, you’ll appreciate Marlee Grace’s little book, How to Not Always be Working. Brittany Wood Nickerson’s The Herbal Homestead Journal is an accessible journey through the year, with tips for foraging, herbal medicine, and connecting with nature and seasons. And How to uncover SELF in chaotic times is a beautifully simple zine filled with meditations and practical ideas for centering honesty, self-care and compassion within busy lives.

Queer tarot decks

I am SO excited that Thea’s Tarot – out of print since it was first published in the 80s – is finally back in print, thanks to the wonderful Metonymy Press. This lesbian/feminist deck, illustrated in papercuts by Ruth West, has been re-visioned in a contemporary, queer/gederqueer context by Oliver Pickle – the companion book She Is Sitting in the Night is a wonderful queer tarot guidebook (and though it focuses on the images of Thea’s Tarot, it can be used with any deck). Meanwhile Cristy C Road’s overtly political, punk NEXT WORLD TAROT is hot off the press and shipping out in early January. Hurrah!

Nature Connection

As the season turns again and we welcome the returning light, decks and books can help us deepen our relationship with nature’s rhythms. I love Glennie Kindred’s writing – rooted in Celtic pagan tradition, plants, seasons and symbols that are familiar to me as an inhabitant of the UK. Letting in the Wild Edges offers a beautiful resource to anyone looking to ‘get out in nature more’ – as it moves through the year, it provides lots of suggestions for activities, things to look out for, crafts, recipes, foraging tips, medicine, ritual and more. I keep my copy in the kitchen and turn to it often – it always inspires me.

The Green Wheel Oracle, by Danielle Barlow, is a deck in three parts, with cards for each full moon, cards for each point on the wheel of the year, and a menagerie of animal allies. Also by Glennie Kindred (one of a small range of mini self-published books), The Sacred Tree is a lovely guidebook to the symbolism and folklore of trees native to the UK and Northern Europe.

Tools for shadow work

Midwinter is a perfect time for delving into our own inner darkness. I’m using tarot, ritual and altar-making to get really honest about what I’ve learned this year, what I want to release, shift, or welcome in.

The Tarot of the Crone is my favourite deck for this deep work. It’s powerful, and scary at times, and its messages always feel profound. These Moon Phase Potions, created by Sarah Gottesdiener and Dori Midnight, offer herbal, essential and magical support for moon-work throughout the cycle. And the Wanderer’s Tarot, a strange, dark, witchy deck by Casey Zabala, is my current companion as I unravel the past year – I love how its simple, often abstract images leave plenty of room for my own intuition to come through.

Life design and planning

The Moon is my Calendar is a desk-diary with a difference – it offers the days and weeks of your year in lunar cycles, from new, throuh full, to dark, with pages for releasing and intention-setting after each cycle. Glennie Kindred’s Sacred Earth Celebrations is a book to pull out each festival on the wheel of the year – it’s filled with practical ideas for magic, medicine, ritual and celebration. And Lisa McLoughlin’s Life Design Cards are a brilliant idea – inspired by permaculture principles, it offers helpful prompts to help you design the life you want to be living.