Tarot Poem – #18 – The Moon


Here are two more Tarot poems that I wrote, in two posts, with images from the Barbara Walker deck which I love. The Moon and The Sun are companion pieces.

Another one is coming tomorrow – probably – once the New Year has turned over and it’s officially 2016 here…. Happy New Year!

by Helen Iacovino

I am the lizard
           breaking the golden cage

Long enough I have crawled
through the mud of my pool–
now I surface slowly
through murky green layers
towards the flickering light that swims
in a dark sea of sky.

The moon ripples in the water,
enchanting the waves with light,
so bright on the bank’s grass,
so dim down here.
There plants grow straight & green,
here the slimy seaweed drapes
round me, so hard to shake off.

Mighty moon, I’ll reach you:
I think I am a creature
whose gills were designed for land.
I’ve glimpsed there’s more
than this endless wet,
& now I cannot sleep.

I wish I were a tadpole
who knows
his destiny.

Beside her wheel
Fortuna cries,
“Your aspirations
are born of lies,
you guess your nature
from the shape you see
in the carnival mirror
of the heaving sea.

“You will swim to a surface
that isn’t there,
try to reach a moon
suspended in air,
believe in illusions
of distant hills,
& try to walk on land
with fishes’ gills!”


Tarot Poem – # XI – Fortitude


Another poem from my series about the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. #11 – Strength – Fortitude – the lion. She takes matters into her own hands and turns the wheel in her favour, so to speak. In most decks this card follows immediately after the Wheel of Fortune, and is a response to it.

The image is from the Barbara Walker Tarot deck, the deck which I use.

Hope springs from the teeth of a lion –
        & I am the pillar which supports the world.

I am the path
between the lion’s jaws.

Fortuna, I defeat you
without the empress’ sword,
the papess’ book,
the lovers’ imagined world
or the hermit’s wisdom.

This lion by the jaws I take
& I make believe it’s easy,
as I ride your wheel
without magic,
without weapons,
with only a clear head.

Eagerly I set sail
& watch coastlines disappear
as paper ribbons to shore tear
with a ship’s slow parting.

Like a moth emerging
from her cocoon,
I feel my wings
beginning to sprout.

I am the freshest goddess
the world has ever seen.

Tarot Poems for #10 – The Wheel of Fortune

#10 Wheel of Fortune, Barbara Walker Tarot Deck

#10 Wheel of Fortune, Barbara Walker Tarot Deck

The Hermit and the Wheel of Fortune, cards #9 and #10, are at the centre of the Tarot Major Arcana – you could say that the 22 cards revolve around these. The wheel is also reminiscent of the Wheel of the Year, continually turning, and we are more conscious of it now as we approach not only the Solstice but also the end of yet another calendar year – the wheel just keeps on turning. Here is the series of poems I wrote for #10, the Wheel of Fortune.The image is from the Barbara Walker deck, my preferred deck.

X     WHEEL OF FORTUNE – 3 Poems
by Helen Iacovino


To capture spring’s young poplars in first bud,
fearless green leaves amid a sea of brown,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel.

To catch the fleeing cricket in mid leap,
to snap the picture time can never fade,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

To escape the click & turn of heavy doors
of each day of every completed year,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel.

To finally swing in tune, in perfect step,
to swim with the current in this endless stream,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

To sing the rhythm coursing from the sun,
To chant the water, happy as a seal,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

My wheel none escape;
None their fortune make.

All of your house
I usher in,
come ride my wheel,
come gyre & spin,
& for your pleasure
I’ll make fair trade –
I’ll weave you a fine yarn
with the thread I’ve made.

All beings spin
through the air, get dragged in
to my lovely blue stream
& are spun faster still:
I have lion’s claws
& powerful jaws –
if you escape I will pounce
with my merciless paws.

To drink forever from Fortune’s cup,
to feel the river of stars that floats
between the spokes, to feel the wheel
as the paddles lift the water up.

To drink forever from Fortune’s cup
to climb forever the dark castle stairs —
at the top she stands in priestly robes,
the cup in her extended hand —
it’s like groping through the awesome land
of the tunnel formed by facing mirrors,
where stairs climb to the stars forever,
& Fortune’s hand is extended ever,
& ever receding with that mighty tunnel.

Fortune’s wheel in sunlight swims
among her flowers by the stream —
to see birds circling overhead
& the robin land & pluck the worm
from the bottom of the lowest rung
while frogs and crickets chirp their songs,
all part of her enchanted ring.
Once on such banks the fairies danced,
sang magic songs to appease the wheel,
& lit the night like fireflies –

but we have chased the fairies from their haunts,
left autumn’s pall upon the land,
& left the night pierced by the pour
of that rolling & relentless wheel.

Tarot Poem – #9 – The Hermit


As winter, the Solstice and the New Year are approaching, I want to share some of my Tarot poems over the next little while. Inspired by the 22 cards of Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, this series of poems was published by North Wind Press on their website, accompanied by Mary Bennett’s beautiful Tarot paintings. Here is Card No. 9 – “The Hermit’s Night.”


by Helen Iacovino

swirling, the first snow reclaims land from cottagers
who watch the jagged “V” of migrating geese
as they follow their leader, instinctively wise.
the ground is damp & cold, the wind & stinging leaves
lash the lake. bears prowl the high night meadows.
nothing is ours anymore: the waves are teeth of steel.

& on forbidding autumn nights
through swampy rushes, the hermit shines his way:
his hood peaks snugly on his head,
his lantern wavers in his hand,
an old old man he is, fearless of the elements.

the lantern, like a smooth & perfect stone
radiating spikes of light
is multiplied by darkness manifold:
across miles of marsh it flickers, strong.

& on such haunted autumn nights
when the fire jolts & sparks
& settling logs startle us from armchair sleep,
we may dare to steal a glance outside

& sometimes glimpse that moving cloak
gliding towards the forest’s dark,
& with a brief but mighty shudder may descry
the cloak as the tiger’s lightest stripe,
the lantern gleaming like the tiger’s eye

while to other windows the hermit’s steps remain
subliminal: rustling wind or unseen animal.

Published in the poetry magazine  Puerto Del Sol  and also by North Wind Press

“The Spiral of Our Days”


IMG_5035 IMG_5063-2014On the Sunday of Labour Day weekend this year (September 6) I led an informal worship service at Unicamp (north of Toronto in Mulmur, Ontario, on the Bruce Trail between Shelburne and Creemore) on the theme “Circles, Cycles and Labyrinths.” Unicamp is a Unitarian Universalist camp and conference centre on 50 acres of beautiful, varied terrain which includes forest trails, meadows, streams and springs, limestone caves, and a fantastic swimming pond.

When something is ending (such as another summer), we tend to reflect on the cycles of life. The symbolism of labyrinths is associated with cycles, including death, rebirth and metaphorical rebirth into new awareness, as well as with the circle, symbol of eternity and continuity.

As part of the service I read my poem, “The Spiral of Our Days,” written at a time when I was thinking a lot about the complexity of all the different facets of our lives. It is also a poem about walking a labyrinth – and particularly the labyrinth at Unicamp, where at some times of the day you walk one half, the half closest to woods and trees, under the shadow of the trees and the other half through sunshine in the proximity of wild flowers and the sound of a nearby stream.

never finished, going nowhere
the endless snake, always winding,
spiralling ever higher, the magic barber-pole –
the fascination, spun from childhood,
of carousel horses & ferris wheels,
of maypole stripes & the endless journey
to the tree at the centre of the world.

it looked simple then –
the certainly of elevators & dinner-bells,
the waiting & the barber-pole,
the world an elevator
with delineated floors –

before the jungle swallowed,
before the labyrinth
showed us the puzzle
of the facets of our days –

the labyrinth swallows
& promises
to spin around the spirals of our days,
with a raven’s wing & a turtle’s flower,
with the maypole dance in its widening orbit
around the morning star.

slowly we start to weave
ourselves into the path,
to engage the spiral of complexity –
perhaps we can trust these perfect circles
in which the world reveals itself,
half in shadow, half in doubt,
sometimes bent with anger or sorrow,
but with the full jewel of its promise:

yet another perfect maypole,
each year the strands weaving differently together,
each year equally whole.

© Helen Iacovino

For Ostara/Easter – A Labyrinth Poem


ImageImageFor springtime (which seems rather delayed this year) and for the new life of Ostara/Easter, this is a labyrinth poem. I am fascinated by labyrinths, and the insights that walking a labyrinth may bring – and also sometimes frustrated when, expecting insights, none materialize. In downtown Toronto, even the labyrinth outside the bustling Eaton Centre (in Trinity Square, immediately west of the Eaton Centre) is an oasis of calm despite the bustle and building-fans that surround it. This is a powerful labyrinth, with wonderful energies.



my life is full of mirrors,
both created and natural –
from the jumble of questions
I wade through each day,
to the shopping mall glass
that catches fleeting light.

I bring my incompleteness
to the labyrinth –

in the east the birds
& hope ever rising,
wild geese calling in spring,
the view from a windswept mountaintop,
& clear bells ringing new through dawn.

fire in the south, & all things small & green,
bringing warmth & a cat’s sleek fur,
the noonday sun at his height,
the wise chariot, the salamander’s glory,
& close down by waving grasses
the first dandelion.

from the western bear I need
the introspection of the waterfall,
the flowing cup revealing invisible worlds,
the refracted glass of a mind’s eye,
the scent of apples ripening,
the reflection of the sunset,
& a kaleidoscope’s broken glass
in its ever-shifting beauty.

the earth of the north,
the while buffalo goddess,
I bring you my own center,
I bring an acorn seed,
my feet are attached to the ground
where new spring trees are growing.

I wonder if I’ve ever dared
to perform a cat’s calculated leap
over any threshold,
into the depths of being,
one with the spinning world.

the labyrinth’s path continues
& I’m on the crossroads
with Coyote & Owl –
I want all paths to be easy.

Coyote tells me
no path is ever easy,
& we don’t find the puzzle –
we create it.

© Helen Iacovino



Tarot Collection – Published by North Wind Press


jester-office-MB900290560Here is a link to my collection, “Poems From the Tarot,” as published by North Wind Press on their website:


The site also features Tarot artwork by Mary Bennett.  One day Mary and I were talking, and when she discovered that I had written Tarot poetry and I discovered she had created Tarot artwork, we decided to collaborate, and this web publication was the result.

Also from the site, here is my statement about this poetry collection:

Tarot is a way of knowing, and a way of seeing and understanding the world. The 22 Major Arcana represent cards represent a journey towards self-realization, starting and ending with the same card, The Fool – after which the journey can begin all over again.

My interest in the Tarot began some years ago.  After participating in a Jung Society workshop on Tarot, I decided to begin meditating on the Major Arcana cards, and then to write a poem about each one.  In a fascinating and unexpected way, each card opened itself up to me and led me on a path into its world.  Some were more difficult to approach than others – but this is to be expected.

I favour Jungian interpretations of Tarot as a rich symbolic system, a system of images, and a springboard towards being more in touch with the unconscious and the collective unconscious – where a wealth of images and archetypes reside and float up.   This realm is also accessed through dreams, myth and folk tales.  In a world without fixed answers, where, in fact, none are expected and we are responsible for discovering our own truths, Tarot is a part of that search and reflects that search.  It is non-linear and non-rational; it is open to interpretation and cannot be pinned down, but this quality is what makes it dance. It is a pathway to the unconscious, and provides glimpses of the inner wellsprings that we all look for and gives us a sense of the unity of the cosmos.

Currently the cards I am most drawn to are The Hermit, The Star and The Moon.  These cards are about inner knowing, focusing on the internal life.  This, too, will change – at different points in time, different things speak most ardently to us.  In writing the poems, I allowed the characters or images on the cards to speak and to reveal themselves; many of the poems are written from the point of view of the character on the card.  This collection has at least one poem on each of the Major Arcana cards, and a few cards have two or three.  It also reflects my Unitarian Universalist world view ( http://www.cuc.ca    http://www.uua.org)

Poetry is a calling.  I recognized many years ago that I feel called to crystallize the explorations of the spirit in words and images, and offer this as my contribution to the world. What I am attempting in all my poetry is to explore these realms, let it resonate with the reader or listener, and to communicate through symbols and images things that everyday language cannot easily express.

© Helen Iacovino