This article will depart from our usual discussion of the traditional Tarot, instead highlighting a different, all-new card-using system!
Phoenix of Denver, CO, multi-talented dancer, healer and instructor, has created her own set of cards that function well for dancers as a creative tool for self-knowledge. And that is, after all, what the cards are for, a mirror to reflect on what we know and what we have yet to learn.
There are many flavors of cards that act as a Mirror of the Self. In the more traditional card camp, we find both the well-known Tarot and the lesser-known (but increasingly popular) LeNormand cards dating from the Napoleonic era. In the more individualistic camp of the free-form creators, we find card systems such as the Fairy cards, Angel cards, and now Phoenix’s Dancing From Within Cards. These alternate systems have a plethora of devoted fans, in spite of being relatively new to the cartomancy scene. I am a long-time fan of Phoenix, and leapt at the chance to learn more about her creation.
This deck, created by Phoenix in 2013, is largely text- and affirmation- based, and is described as a game for self-knowledge. Phoenix says, “My hope in creating this deck was to provide exercises and tools supporting both personal and spiritual work, as well as growth in performance and movement. I want to help unlock the talent of every person!” While some card readers project a great deal of mysticism to the process of laying out and interpreting cards, I enjoyed Phoenix’s very no-nonsense, get-on-with-healing-thyself attitude. She describes her cards as a game, a fun yet meaningful way to unwind while challenging ourselves both in terms of movement skills and in terms of releasing creative, emotional, and self-awareness blockages. Her approach is so practical, and her motivation so sincere, I was curious how she was inspired to create these cards and how they are most often used. “A number of my students use them meditatively, to select areas of personal work. Others use them to generate fresh combinations in dance when they are feeling stuck and stale. ”
Her teaching has long been informed by the metaphorical elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, as well as her deep studies in the Eastern Chakras as a way to name and work with energy in the body. In 2004, she began developing exersizes for her dance students utilizing these concepts, and developed this approach further while co-leading women’s retreats in 2011 and 2012. After a ‘Eureka!’ moment with her very supportive healer, she was encouraged to develop a card game to make these concepts more accessible to all. Phoenix got to work immediately. Inspired by that moment of awakening, the motivational words, phrases and affirmations throughout the Dancing From Within Cards all coalesced through a lengthy process of personal study and her own meditational practice.
What Do They DO?
This deck is a family effort, printed by her brother at Alphagraphics in Wilmington, NC, and conceived, designed and shipped by Phoenix herself. The set is comprised of 53 cards and instructions for 4 games, wrapped in a shimmery organza pouch! (Because …dancers.)
Opening up the shimmery bag, one takes out the cards and explore the four game options. The player then decides whether to:
Explore the Elements to deepen your technique, widen vocabulary, and expand your expression
Explore the Chakras and how you feel in your body, opening flow and blockages within
Deepen the Chakra work by adding in the human Talent and Affirmation statements
Combines the layers, pulling in both the aspects of deep personal work as well as movement
Chakras? Elements? What?
For those of you asking, what ARE Chakras and Elements anyway… As described in the Dancing From Within Cards, Chakras are your unseen but palpable energy centers in your body and being. They hold the energy of various aspects of your life, your past and being. Blockages are sometimes reflected in inhibitions, fears, and false limitations. Different Chakras correspond to different aspects of experience: survival fears, security, vocal expression, confidence and more.
The Elements, as Phoenix presents them, are those you may be familiar with from Western esoteric spirituality; Air, Fire, Water and Earth. So in her card game:
Earth represents grounding, rootedness, security, calmness, and self-assurance
Fire speaks of self-definition, with our personal power, boundaries and control over self (never others)
Water addresses matters of emotion, self appreciation and self-acceptance
Air describes our powers of intellect and ability to rely on intuition, thinking, inner truth and openness, interpersonal connectivity
Good For Who?
These movement based cards are designed to be open to all movers, all genders and levels of ability, from ballet to bellydancers, teens and up. In terms of dance or movement technique, they have offered assistance to people in terms of adding power and smoothness to the work. Phoenix describes how she has watched the cards assist that have struggled with their adding intention and depth to their movements. “They find that making the leap was less of a body effort and more a matter of accessing the energy behind it. In terms of performance, card workshoppers have a new way to access making their intention, and emotion, accessible to the audience.” She adds that folks with emotional or Chakra blockages are empowered by the affirmations and human abilities presented in the cards. Sometimes artists experience great openings and deeply healing experiences while working with Dancing From Within Cards.
How Do I Learn More?
Phoenix has been teaching for years with her feet firmly rooted in an Elemental approach. A national instructor with 19 years of experience, she’s workshopped with Dancing From Within Cards in a broad variety of settings. Both as a teacher and a career RN, one of her passions is doing face-to-face work with people, deepening soul and body connections. Due to the miracle of technology, she can work with folks one-on-one via Skype also. The actual Dancing From Within Cards are available on her website at www.phoenix-dancing.com.
Just remember, “It’s like a mirror. Sometimes you know what you will see… and sometimes its a big surprise!”