Friday, September 16, 2011

9/17/11-9/18/11—Staying Positive

Weekend Reading: The Moon from the Infinite Visions. Use your imagination for good this weekend. Be careful not to let it breed fear and nightmares about whatever might lie ahead in your life. Just know that everything will turn out OK in the end. It always has. Nothing has defeated you yet. And there's no reason to imagine that whatever's going on in your life will ultimately have an unhappy ending, either.

9/16/11—Touching Primeval

Today's Draw: The Hermit from the Mythic Tarot. Have you ever been on a Vision Quest? Does the idea of spending time alone in the woods scare or excite you? What fears might you have to overcome to pursue something like that...or do you even want to?

The Hermit is one of the cards I identify most with in the tarot. He is the one who walks alone...searches within...retreats from life...pursues ever-deepening wisdom.

There have been a few times in my life that I've craved some sort of vision quest. A vision quest is a Native American spiritual quest in which someone sets out into nature alone without food or shelter for a few days. Typically, they'll find a spot somewhere, surround a small area with stones and stay within the stone circle the entire time. These extreme conditions leave the individual with nothing but themselves and the spirits as counsel. It's not unheard of for someone to die on a vision quest.

Now, I'm not really looking for conditions that extreme. I've set out for Lewes, Delaware in the off-season to spend time at the beach alone, for example...haha. One time I stayed in a lodge on Skyline Drive and did a rather challenging hike to see a number of waterfalls. That was in March, I remember, and some of the rocks were icy. I kept shedding and donning layers—from shorts to fully covered—based on my level of exertion. There were certainly times I was in shorts and sweating up a storm in 30-some degree weather. On the way back up, I kept trading resting spots with a group of Boy Scouts who, I'm proud to say, weren't as prepared for the exertion as myself. This was back when I was fit, though.

The most recent time, I got a hankering to go camping. I had never been camping before. I wanted to go alone, but a friend insisted I take her since I had never been before. It was a good thing she came because I was afraid of bears the entire time...haha. Plus, she is a total outdoors woman, so she was a good first companion. I had 175 lbs of dogs with that time and I remember that I was left about 2" of air mattress for myself and the only way I got any pillow space was if I was nose-to-nose with Passion, my enormous, warm-breathing dog. So that's kind of roughing it.

It's fair to say that I haven't done anything like this alone for the past 12 years or so. I really don't go anywhere without my dogs. On one hand, I really don't want to do anything without them. I wouldn't be able to focus without them at my side. Keep in mind, I'm with them 24 hours a day, most days. But on the other hand, they can really suck as companions in nature because they won't sit still. This is fine if they're off leash, but most places they have to be on leash. You can't just sit and enjoy a beautiful view with them. The only exception was one time at the beach when we sat there for hours. It was a rare 80 degree day in March...a weekday. And we had the entire place to ourselves. 

Anyway, as you might have guessed, what this is all coming to is that I need something like this now. And I'm not talking about a vacation. Sure, I could use a vacation. But I'm talking about a spiritual quest of some sort that's a little rugged, a little isolated, a little rustic and a lot natural. Something where the spiritual journey eclipses my lodging experience. It's not going to happen anytime soon, because I'm so fully booked until I take my real vacation in October. And that is a nice leaf-peeping experience at my isolated, very natural, but quite nice and accommodating B&B. 

You know, earlier this week we spoke of that fire and smoke, aboriginal connection. I feel so disconnected from that right now. So there's a yearning, a need inside me. Ritual is a way of getting there, as we discussed the other day. And so is a vision quest-y kind of journey. Actually, so is sexual attraction in its own way, which is what we talked about yesterday. In the absence of that, however, I'm probably more likely to use ritual and maybe some out-of-body sort of meditation at this juncture because it's all I can get lost for an hour or so. But I could use so much more. Do you ever feel this urge to connect to the primeval you yourself?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/15/11—Turning You On

Today's Draw: Page of Cups from the Herbal Tarot—Damiana. What gets you in "the mood"? Have you ever used a chemical or herbal substance to heighten the mood? What pushes you past the point of no return?

The Page of Cups in this card is dipping his/her toes into life's stream of emotion to see if he/she can determine what is on the horizon for him/her. If you got the Page of Cups, it would signal interest in a new relationship or in experiencing something new in the realm of love or emotion. I usually read it as a message about love or a new opportunity on its way.

Since it's the Herbal Tarot, each card corresponds to an herb. And this card's herb is damiana, an aphrodisiac that can be made into a tea or smoking blend. An aphrodisiac is anything that heightens sexual arousal...a food, drink, drug or action. There are Mexican margaritas that use a damiana liqueur in place of triple sec and it's lore that it was an ingredient in the original margarita. Damiana is illegal in Louisiana, but legal elsewhere in the US and you can get it most places you buy herbs. In fact, I think you can get it at Sticks and Stones, where I read tarot.

Speaking of aphrodisiacs, I poked around and found some lists of turn ons for men and women. Among the turn ons for men are a woman with an accent, breasts, butts, dirty talk, full lips, a sexy voice and enthusiasm about sex. Among the ones for women are a man who makes you feel like a woman, sensitivity, taking charge, intelligence, sense of humor, a man who's good with kids, a man in uniform and a great body. 

Not that those things are turn offs for me, but they wouldn't be at the top of my list. I like a sense of humor and a man who takes charge, sure. But top on my list of aphrodisiacs is whispered words. And being with someone I know I can trust and be vulnerable with. Beyond that and maybe a few other things, nothing outside of me and the person I care for heightens the mood significantly enough to even be a thought for me. And since I have my father's libido, there's no need for any assistance. Over the course of my lifetime I've experimented with various aphrodisiacal substances and while some of it has been fun, I kind of like being "all there". And alcohol is a real turn-OFF for me.

So what gets you going? Are you typical for your sex based on the things I found above? Or are you some sort of weirdo? :D

9/14/11—Touching The Ancient, Immortal Soul

Today's Draw: The Five of Pentacles from the Native American Tarot (Lo Scarabeo).  Do you have any sort of spiritual/personal ritual or ceremony you perform? Have you ever communed with that part of yourself that is ancient and immortal? Do you have a thing for smoke and fire?

What I love about non-traditional decks is all the options they offer beyond the usual 78 in a normal tarot deck. Normally the Five of Pentacles would be about financial loss or having a poverty mentality or feeling down and out...something like that. 

But this particular Five of Pentacles has NOTHING to do with that. In fact, it represents cedar, which is one of the four sacred smudging herbs—along with sage, sweetgrass and tobacco (and sometimes lavender)—in Native American practice. So in the Native American Tarot, the Five of Pentacles is about ceremony. 

One of my best kept secrets is that I'm a ceremony queen. Nay, diva! It's a secret because I only invite a special few to share in my ceremonies. But I make my own incenses and oils. I anoint everything and set up a sacred altar. I come up with elaborate ceremonial rituals for participants, usually involving fire and tiny explosions...haha. Everyone is asked to bring something to the ceremony so that, through the planning ahead, their energy arrives before they do. There's often music...I have a few drums and complete set of crystal singing bowls, along with various chimes and rattles. Sometimes crafting is incorporated into the program. I have a laser generated star machine for indoors ceremonies, usually accompanied by chants to bring people out of body. And typically people end up bearing their souls and making themselves vulnerable to the group in the some way. I'm sure you've all caught on by now that I'm quite the dramatic person. Multiply that by 10 and you've got one of my ceremonies.

I love to create, so every one is different. I usually begin days before by drafting the "script" and making the incenses and oils. Every detail is thoroughly thought out, all the way down to cheat sheets for participants so they don't forget the order of things during their part of the ritual. I know it sounds anal, but there are a number of steps that usually have to be followed and I can't expect them to memorize those steps when they're busy thinking of what their affirmation will be or what they'll etch on their take-home altar item or whatever...haha. Did I mention I REALLY get into this? Fortunately, everyone enjoys them and can't wait for the next one, so clearly I'm not too overbearing. :D

Anyway, the ceremonies might be for finding love, adding something new to your life, getting rid of an old habit, healing, honoring the year's passing, etc. Group ceremonies are made more powerful by the collective energy of the group so, for me, choosing the right dynamic is essential. Although I'm usually the mistress of ceremonies, I've also been known to enjoy the ceremonies of others...full moon manifestation ceremonies or the sweat lodges I occasionally go to. One day the cards will lead me to talk to you about a deeply spiritual, out-of-body moment I experienced at a lodge building ceremony a few years back. But we'll save that for another time.

Taking part in ceremony and ritual goes beyond making wishes, saying prayers or even of purifying some part of you that you feel is in need. In fact, it goes beyond the physical body and your current existence to touch something very deep at the soul level. If you believe in souls and reincarnation...and if you believe that the soul and even your DNA carry the code of human life history...then maybe there's a way to retrieve or reawaken some of the early energies. And if a way exists, ceremony and ritual are one of the vehicles to take you there. There's something about smoke and fire that will do that for you.

I can hear a hundred heads shaking in unison as readers all come to the same conclusion. Again. "Tierney is a witch. She denies it, but she is." Whatever. Witches certainly do do ceremony best and I borrow from them a great deal, but ceremony long predates witches in the history of man. A part of me deeply connects to that part of us that is the original human (before we bred with aliens and became less hairy...I'll save that theory for another entry, too...haha). And yes, it deeply connects to what you might consider earth's first witches, the shamans. When I'm deep in the moment, I feel those ancestors, their ancient DNA flowing through me. When I'm preparing for a ceremony, I hear their whispers as they guide me. This is different than meditation or anything else. There's a different reverence, a different feel, a different hand of creation. 

Catholics do the body and blood of Christ thing. That's a ritual. Facing east and praying every few hours is a ritual. And the day-long prep for an authentic sweat lodge is too. It's almost instinctual within us and yet is one of the sad losses we've volunteered to take in exchange for modern "rituals" like adhering to schedules or doing things in the same order during our morning routines. These things may bring us comfort and even put us in a "zone", but they don't really touch the same depths. 

So consider adding some sort of ceremony or ritual to your life that does. Something with smoke and fire and and intention and reverence. Something you do uninterrupted and just for your soul self. It can be as easy as sitting in candlelight with some good incense burning and journaling once a week. Or setting an intention by writing it on paper and keeping it someplace special. I do everything first class...handmade journals, beautiful papers, wax seals, artisan altar items, expensive incense. I like to awaken every sense. This takes things out of the ordinary. Over time you can add things to make it more complex. Years ago I did an entire evening of beauty. I would take a bath and imagine the waters purifying me. I'd exfoliate the week off of me with a scrubby to prepare for the new. I'd wear something that felt sensual and crawl into bed with my journal and some chocolate, my room lit by candles. Then I would write, imagine, dream. No sound, no interruptions. Just me holding court with me. 

If you put some thought into it, you could come up with something fabulously "you", too. Just sit in silence and ask yourself how you can honor your soul, your higher self, that part of you that is sacred and divine. Then try a few things and see how it goes. There is a part of you that rose from smoke and fire...that worshiped smoke and fire. Touch it and touch eternity.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/13/11—Executing Your Vision

Today's Draw: Initiation (Magician) from Tarot de Paris. Do you get a lot of great ideas? Do you have the motivation to bring them into reality? What stands between your big ideas and the recognition you so richly deserve?

The Tarot de Paris characterizes the Magician as creative initiation, the moment that creation is called into action. But this moment is just the beginning. Before results can be seen, action, motivation and work are needed. 

As someone who has spent their entire career as a "creative ideas" person, I know this moment well. For many of us, this is the most magical moment of our job. It's the moment an idea is born. While you would think it's the beginning of a creative story, for me, at least, it's the climax. Everything is denouement from there. 

While there are still some challenging and gratifying problems to solve during the execution phase, the concept phase is the part most of advertising creatives like best. It's the alchemical moment when marketing strategy is changed into creative strategy. It's the phase where you either prove your chops as a creative person or fail.

As I said before, execution is fine and can sometimes be very gratifying, but it's just not as fun. Frankly, it's more like work. We're not accustomed to complaining about it, because the entire process is our job. We don't really get one part without doing the other. Seniors in large agencies can make peons execute, but they still direct it and, depending on the peon, probably end up doing much of the work themselves anyway. This is more common for artists than writers, though. Regardless I'm kind of feeling that kind drudgery lately myself. However, execution is the only way to make it to the next set of gratifying moments...when you see your vision complete and then when it gets the results you wanted to achieve.

So, I came up with this amazing idea for a tarot product...haha. And I loved every minute of developing the product. Now I've got to write the book that accompanies it and that feels more like much harder to motivate myself for than the idea phase. In advertising, execution usually happens quite quickly because it takes maybe an hour or less to write an ad, for example. All the real time is spent in the idea phase. But a book...that takes a long time to execute. You can kind of equate it to a man who loves the pursuit of a woman, but feels less enamored—if not trapped—when the prize is won and it's time for a relationship. That's where I am now. 

I've actually written something significantly longer and more profitable before. It was a 750-page corporate website. No kidding. I still have the PTSD to prove it...haha. So I know I can manage the challenge. And, fortunately for professional creatives, we're very deadline oriented and, like a Pavlovian dog, we automatically move forward on that motivation alone. My deadline for this book is the end of the month. 

Initiation comes to remind us that the spark happens long before results appear. And what lies between is a choice...action or inaction. You can wait for magic to happen...for a channel to open and move your fingers for you on the keyboard. But what's likely to be more successful is to put your head down and just do the hard work of executing your vision. That's what I'll be doing today. What vision are you executing in your life today?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/12/11—Getting Everything You Wish For

Today's Draw: King of Pentacles from the Mythic Tarot (First Edition). Are you wishing for a financial windfall? Has it ever occurred to you that you may end up worse off with the money than without it? What is it that you really want?

The Mythic Tarot is the deck I learned on 25 years ago and it is still one of my favorites. One of the great things about this deck is that each of the four suits follows a myth from beginning to end. This makes the cards easier to learn because each one is a memorable part of the overall story.

The King of Pentacles follows the myth of King Midas. Midas won the favor of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. So Dionysus granted Midas one wish. And, focused on material matters as any King of Pentacles would be, Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. 

His wish went into effect immediately and he started touching everything around him. His throne turned to gold. His table turned to gold. Then he touched a vase of flowers and they turned gold. Satisfied by his newfound power, he reached for his tankard of ale. But before he could raise it to his lips, that, too, turned to gold, along with its contents. He then grabbed a strawberry, which also turned to gold. Inconsolable at the reality of his wish, he sought a hug from his daughter, and she too turned to gold. 

Midas' greatest wish had come true. He had all the gold in the world—a never-ending supply. But he could no longer eat, no longer feel human touch, not even feel the soft grass beneath his feet as that, too, alchemized at his touch. He knew he would die a sad, wealthy man. He cried for Dionysus and begged the God to relieve him of his wish. The gold meant nothing in the absence of the simple joys of life. Dionysus reversed the wish and its consequences.

So this King of Pentacles comes with a number of lessons. One is to be grateful for the riches you already have in life. Another echoes the Bible in that "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil". And the third and most pointed lesson is to be careful what you ask just might get it. 

As a tarot reader, I know that money is a huge concern these days. A lot of people ask about it in their readings. But is it the money people really want? Or do they actually want a genuine feeling of security? The distinction is key when asking for what you want. Many a lottery winner will tell you that getting their wish created all sorts of relationship and financial issues. Some even end up putting themselves in irreparable debt. So be sure about what you really want. Unlike the fabled King Midas, it might be harder to get your wish reversed if its fulfillment doesn't turn out to be everything you'd hoped for.