Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6/15/11—Confronting Yourself

Today's Draw: The Seven of Wands from the Bohemian Gothic. What or who are you struggling with at this phase of your life? Are there people out there who take issue with your success? What can you do to change their attitudes—or do you even want to?

Day Three of Baba Studio week brings the Seven of Wands from the Bohemian Gothic. This, and what I consider its sister deck, the Victorian Romantic (which we will see later this week) are probably two of the most sought after decks in the tarot world. And I can pretty safely say they're THE most sought after decks created in the past five years. Within maybe a year or two of their introductions, they were both completely sold out and were going on eBay for hundreds of dollars. And people were buying them. Gladly. Such is the allure of Baba decks. 

The Bohemian Gothic is what tarot people might call a "dark deck". I am on a few missions with this blog I write every day. One of them is demystifying the world of tarot for the uninitiated. So I show dark decks sparingly, because I think that's what many people think of when they think of the tarot and tarot readers—something dark and scary and unapproachable...something you shouldn't mess with. Plus there's the whole Death card thing and everybody thinks a tarot reader is going to tell them they're going to die (the Death card is actually about transformation, not physical death). So I'm very sensitive to perpetuating misconceptions like that. But every once in a while I do show a vampire themed deck or something darker, because part of telling the story of tarot is that there is endless variety in its art and expression.

But the fact of the matter—and the reason why this particular deck is so popular—is that tarot peeps are predominantly people who are devoted to learning about the inner workings of our minds and souls and purpose here on earth. We're fascinated with spirituality and personal growth in general. Some are pagans and wiccans, yes. Just as many that I know personally are people who don't align with any particular religion, but consider themselves "spiritual". And we, like all humans, have dark and light sides and feel we would be remiss on our paths if we only examined one side of us and ignored the other. There are literally thousands of decks designed for our light side and/or ourselves as a whole (and by "literally", I literally mean literally). But there are only a handful of decks that specifically challenge us to address our darker, more shadowy sides. This is one of them.

So on to the card. The Seven of Wands usually depicts a struggle of some sort and that struggle is typically over creative ideas or concepts. In the Six of Wands, the card before this in the tarot, we achieved a victory or milestone and are encouraged to appreciate the moment. Because in the Seven of Wands, this card, all the angry villagers come to knock us back down to earth...haha. Such is life, huh? Victory is sweet, but usually short lived. 

However, take a good look at this card. Is the demon trying to keep the attackers out? Or are the attackers trying to keep the demon in? The distinction between the two is significant and speaks to how carry ourselves and bear our successes in the world. Sure, we're in an elevated position, above the crowd, but how do we conduct ourselves while we're there? How graciously do we lead?

Since this is a theme week...haha...let's look back at the previous two days. The first was about changing one thing in our daily routine to realize we have choices and don't have to stay in a rut. The second was about owning our ability to create our lives and affirming our unconventional choices and beliefs. And today asks us to look inside ourselves and question if the struggles we face as a result of those choices are really about the choices themselves, or are they, perhaps, about the way we present them to the world. In other words, are we righteously indignant about the choices we make? Do we flaunt them in peoples' faces? Do we hide them out of shame? Or do we otherwise turn people off by the WAY we go about exercising and executing our rights to choose and create whatever we want?

Any time we over-identify with any one aspect of our personality, we run the risk of causing struggle and controversy in our lives. And then we tend to blame the narrow-mindedness of others for causing the struggle when, in truth, our attitude toward it may actually be the catalyst. 

I had a friend once who I always suspected might be gay. Then he came out and I was one of the first people he told. I was so happy for him that he was finally expressing his full self and was truly supportive of this phase of his life. But then, over the course of the ensuing year or two, everything was "gay this" and "gay that". He giddily described sex acts he was enjoying. He dove into the culture and stereotypical affectations. And my friend, the one I could talk to about myriad subjects, disappeared. Now all he could talk about was being gay. And that's understandable for someone suddenly free to express their full self, but it was also a turnoff because, for a year or two, he stopped being a three-dimensional person. And he was crossing the bounds of TMI without any regard to the comfort zones of others. He eventually leveled out and a new normal set in. But along the way, he lost a lot of friends. And he blamed it on their discomfort with his sexuality. But, for the most part, it was because of the way he imposed his sexuality on others.

So this is a great example of how the Six of Wands (celebration over coming out of the closet) turned into a Seven of Wands type of conflict. Any conflict of ideas and passions is a matter of perspective. It's easy to blame the conflict on the other guy and their ignorance or whatever. But the harder road to take is to examine your role in creating the conflict and use it as an opportunity to understand yourself better and grow. 

This is what I talk about when I talk about our "dark sides". It's that part of you that works against your conscious desires, the self-destructive part or the off-putting part. I've turned people off in the past because of my willingness to discuss this side of myself. I mean, people like that I talk about it when I'm talking about myself, but when I turn the spotlight on their dark corners, not so much...haha. And from this, I need to remember that just because I'm comfortable with confronting these sides of myself, as are many of my real-life friends, there are a lot of people out there who either insist they don't have a dark side or find it a private thing they either want to deny or keep to themselves. So if you're getting a negative response from someone regarding a certain aspect of your life, try seeing what role you play in it. We can't change others. But we can change ourselves. And sometimes changing ourselves can completely shift the energy of a bad dynamic.

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