Friday, October 28, 2011

10/29/11-10/30/11—Choosing Harmony

Weekend Reading: Two of Ghosts from the Halloween Tarot by Kipling West. Be on the lookout for a new friendship or love this weekend. If not that, look out for a new quality emerging in a current relationship. This is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the significant others who add to our lives, whether they be lovers, children, friends or partners. Keep things in perspective. The importance of them in your lives is greater than the little things that may bother you in the moment. Let go and let it be a harmonious weekend. You do have that choice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10/28/11—Looking Into Our Nurturing Tendencies

Today's Draw: Mother of Earth (Pentacles) from the Today's Journey Tarot. When is nurturing too much nurturing? When is nurturing something else entirely? And, if you consider yourself a nurturing individual, have you ever taken a look at the motivations that might run beneath your loving ways?

We've gotten this card five or six times this year and we've talked about self-care, nurturing, being gentle with ourselves and the whole "putting the life mask on yourself first" thing. This is the card of the nurturer, the earth mother. 

Look at this woman. There she is sitting on the floor of some polar habitat with no door, wearing a short-sleeved green dress, hair all pulled off her neck, bottle feeding a little polar bear. Awwww, cute. 

But wtf is she thinking??? You just KNOW she's gotta be freezing her arse off. The polar bear can wait while you put on a coat, lady!

Some of us are nurturing people and it comes second nature for us to care for others before we care for ourselves. Or to take better care for others than we take of ourselves. And in some situations, like with an infant child, feeding them NOW to keep them from crying IS taking care of ourselves...haha.

But as noble as it is to care so deeply for others, we also need to ask ourselves why we're doing it. Especially if it depletes us. OK. Some of you are parents and you're PARTLY excused because you have children to raise. But you're not off the hook from asking yourselves why, especially when it comes to the things people look at you a little goofy about. 

Like maybe you go to cheerleading practice every day without fail, even though you're not the coach. Or you never leave your teenage child alone in the house. I don't know. I'm not a parent. But think of some examples from things all the other parents are doing that you're not...or that you're doing that isn't the norm among parents. And ask yourself why. Many of the things you do will withstand your vetting—much of our nurturing is just that. And many of the choices we make with those we nurture are personal ones based on how we want to raise someone.

But sometimes we're doing these things less for our child's (or friend's or partner's or sibling's or volunteer person's) benefit than for our own. Maybe we do it because it gives us a sense of value, because it fills a hole inside of us, because we aim for martyrdom or because, by doing it, we don't have to focus on our own needs, demons, inadequacies, whatever. Parents or not, sometimes we invest in others so we have an excuse for not investing in we have an excuse for not facing our own fears. 

An example from my life might be the fact that I take my dogs everywhere with me. They never stay in kennels or whatever. As long as I have them for that excuse, I never have to travel outside of my comfort zone. It makes saying "no" easier to others. It makes it easier not to take risks. Coming up soon, I have a situation I can't get out of where I have to travel and I finally took the step to find a dog care solution I could be comfortable with. I'm inviting someone into my (messy...haha...from yesterday's post) home to spend the night with them. Hopefully I'll be able to call on this person again in the future. Then I won't feel so uncomfortable about situations where I need to travel and can't take them with me. 

But see, here's the thing. I could say "I don't like to leave them" or "I always want them with me" or "I don't trust strangers with my babies" and all of that would be true. Society would let me get by with saying it just like society lets "helicopter"  parents say that they're "involved with their children and invested in their future". While all of that is VERY true (it's no secret how much I love my dogs) it's also true that I limit myself by being so "nurturing". There are places I don't go that I would like to go because of them. Things I don't do. And while I know they'd gladly lay down and die to spend time with me, I'm not sure I'm doing them any favors by not putting them into someone else's care now and then. 

Do you see what I'm getting at? Sometimes we do perfectly nurturing things, but there are reasons beneath them that aren't nurturing (or evolutionary) for you and aren't as nurturing as you'd like to think for the people you nurture. And then there's the whole phenomena of pouring yourself into others' issues so you don't have to face your own. We all do it from time to time. And this Mother of Earth has come along today to invite us to take a look at those we nurture and ask why we do all the many things we do. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10/27/11—Questioning Your Authenticity

Today's Draw: The Princess of Cups from the Victoria Regina. What parts of your life can you say are truly authentic to you at a soul level? Do you ever find yourself doing things and wondering why? Do you sometimes feel like you're washed away on someone else's plan?

The Princess of Cups is a romantic, idealistic, a dreamer. In the book for the Victoria Regina, it tells us that the girl in the drawing is a young Queen Mary. As a teenager, she was chosen to marry Prince Albert Victor. But just after they were engaged, he died. 

Everyone loved Mary because she was so affable and the royal family wanted her to transfer her engagement to the next in line to the throne, George. She complied and they ended up having a good marriage—by all accounts a better one than if she had married Albert Victor, with whom she was not in love. 

There was—and still is in some societies—a time when women were unable to command their fate. They were told who to marry. They were kept from higher education and a career. They were expected to be socially and intellectually subservient to men. They were socialized to think in certain ways. And their main roles included reproduction and home economics. (Do they even have that in schools anymore? Home Ec?)

The truly shocking thing is that this was going in our country less than a hundred years ago! For some of us, it was the reality for our mother's or grandmother's generation. How far we've come. But have we—any of us, male or female—truly come into command of our own power? 

How many times have you just gone along with the plan? Do you know the difference between your desires and the desires of "the plan"? Cooperation is one thing. But putting something like marriage or Queenship in the hands of others is a little much. Still, it worked out for Queen Mary.

Many years back I remember having a "crisis" about what in my life is authentic to me and what's not. What was a function of the way I was raised or socialized? What's a function of what I think society expects from me? These are worthy questions to consciously explore, because you might find you're following a plan that's not of your own making. 

I know cleaning is one of those things for me...haha. Growing up, we had a very clean house. My house? Not so clean. Kind of cluttery. Not Hoarders bad, though I do have one Hoarders room. But you'll find dust in places that were unacceptable growing up. I don't move furniture very often to vacuum. I only mop when I can't stand it anymore. My kitchen would horrify some of you. But it's authentic to me. Cleanliness isn't a priority. Nobody's getting sick or anything, but then again, House Beautiful isn't setting up any photo shoots.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not filthy. If you came over here, things would be neat and surfaces would be wiped, but it certainly wouldn't live up to my mother's standards. And, when my mother has a place of her own, she can keep it any way she likes! (That's just a joke. My mom passed 27 years ago.) But when I asked myself why this was one of my priorities when I a) live alone and b) don't feel comfortable in sterile, minimal environments, I came up empty. I maintain to my standards. I still wrestle with society's "plan" for how things "should" be. But I find that, by not inviting society over to my house, we're able to maintain a healthy balance. 

See, this may seem like a silly thing, but what it really all comes down is perfectionism. At least for me. I remember in my younger years when I lived in an efficiency, my place would be immaculate, all the grocery shopping would be done, fresh flowers would arranged and my farmer's market trip would all be done between 5am and noon on Saturday. It felt good to have everything so ordered with the whole day stretched out before me, sure. But it wasn't me. The voice saying "do all this by noon and dust and polish and blah, blah, blah" wasn't mine. My voice was saying "what kind of freak gets up at 5am on a Saturday just so they can run around like a chicken with their head cut off?"

When you're caught up in living automatically, without questioning why you stress yourself out to do X or act in a Y way, it's so hard to tell whether you're doing this because it's the plan or whether you're doing it because that's who you are. At least it was hard for me. I'm sure there are still many things I do without question because it's the plan. They're hard to spot sometimes. 

So consider what you do or how you act or what you might agree to that's not quite you. It will probably show its face as something that takes way more of your energy to do, be or say than it should. Or maybe it's like my perfectionism thing, where you just wonder if you're a little crazy for being the way you are. Then ask if the insanity is authentic to you. Could you live, act and be another way and feel more like yourself? If so consider doing something about it. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10/26/11—Questioning Why We're On The Path

Today's Draw: Nine of Spikes (Wands) from the Ironwing Tarot. Why do you think we generally pursue "bettering" ourselves? Why do we strive to be more godly? And isn't the pursuit of shedding our egos driven by the ego?

For as much as yesterday's card was about destruction, this card is about creation and transformation. Ultimately, though, they're the same thing. The burning hand-like spikes bring a magical heat that signals the path of the cicada from its 17-year sleep below the earth and its transformation from flightless nymph to the cicada we know.

If you're a tarot reader, you may not recognize this as a traditional meaning, but in the sense that the cicada summons its reserves and invests all its energy into its final push to transformation, it is. 

The first thing I saw when I looked at this card, however, is what we've been talking about all week...shedding our ego and rising to see the truth. So many people react strongly to the word ego, thinking it's meant to suggest that they think highly of themselves. But that's not exactly the kind of ego I talk about in these entries. Yes, there's a sense of self-importance and self-centeredness to it. And if you think you're devoid of those qualities you're mistaken. But, spiritually speaking, it's bigger than that. 

Ego is that part of ourselves that forms attachments to things, attitudes, image and such. It's that part of ourselves that lives in the past or future, that defines our identity, that sees ourselves as separate from others. Speaking in terms of us and them is an ego thing. In my opinion, the word "should" is completely owned by the ego. If you're human, you have an ego. In my belief, ego is the weight that tethers our spirit to earth. 

So over the past two days, we've talked about the freedom that comes from releasing attachment to the ego and we've talked about the conflicting voices of the ego that keep us from taking the direct route to our divine selves. Today has little more to offer to the picture except this: like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, the cicada has to completely shed his identity before he can fly. Heck, the cicada can't even see the sun—see the light—before it sheds its old form. 

As I had touched on earlier this week, I don't know why or if we "should" try to live in divine spirit on earth. I just know that I'm drawn to doing that. Logically thinking, though, I think humans are meant to be humans. I think we're here to be humans. So those beliefs are in conflict with the journey to shed ego and experience ourselves as spirits on earth. Life can have meaning without being on that journey. So it's not about finding meaning. And, of course, we can be both human and divine. In fact, that's more like what we are.

It's just that those rare moments in life that defy space, time and ego and allow us to stand squarely in the light of spirit are truly the most beautiful moments in life. I suppose the pursuit of this can be like chasing a high. There are few people who achieve it all the time. Eckart Tolle says he lives free of ego. The Dalai Lama probably does. Being that way all the time is too ambitious for me. Clearly there's nothing wrong with being our best selves. But why are we so set on being a better person if not for ego reasons? Maybe once we get to a certain point the ego dissolves, but we start on the path for ego reasons, don't we?

If you have any thoughts on all this, share with me. I think if we're going down a path, we should at least know why. I tend to follow my heart and we can certainly move forward without knowing why. But my approach to life is "question everything". And after three days of the same types of messages about ego this week, I think it's time to question why we don't just sink deeply into our humanity and leave our spirit selves for when we shed this skin.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10/25/11—Releasing Our Attachments

Today's Draw: Death from the Mythical Goddess Tarot—Kali. Have you ever thought of the people and things in your life as attachments? What attachments do you hold on to? Are they worth the loss of freedom that comes along with your attachment?

The Death card is usually about the death of one way of being and the birth of another. It's not as scary as you'd think. It could show up for divorce, birth, marriage, a job change, whatever. The old way of being is no more. And a new way of being takes its place. 

Anyone who knows Kali, though, knows that her kind of death is transformation on steroids. She is the total destroyer, leaving no evidence of previous forms in her path. But like any all-consuming, shrunken-head wearing Goddess of destruction, she's complex. There's a tender, gentle side to her that you don't always see right away. Well, not really, but hold that possibility for a moment. 

See, when Kali strips you of everything you once held value in, she gives you freedom in return. She challenges us to release attachments to the material, mundane things we think give life value. And sometimes she strips us of precious things—people and pets, for example—to challenge us further. You see, our freedom isn't dependent on any one thing. It's actually dependent on nothing at all. Because we can only be free when we have no attachments. And only when we're free of attachments can we see the truth. Our attachments will always cause us to see through a lens of illusion.

Freedom from attachments is key to both Hindu and Buddhist religions. If you've ever seen a Buddhist nun with her shaved head, that's what it's all about...freedom from attachment to worldly "needs". Letting go of the trappings of our worldly natures.

I have to admit I'm very attached to worldly things. I like to possess things. On the other hand, there are a lot of things I've let go of in my life without hanging on. So I'm probably pretty normal, all totaled. But thinking of those times when we were able to let go shows us just how unnecessary most of our trappings are. Think about it and give yourself the gift of seeing what an illusion most of our needs are.

OK, on that note, I'm now dying to share my favorite Buddhist joke. Why can't the Buddha vacuum underneath the sofa? Because he has no attachments. 

I like to think Kali would laugh at that one. :)

As a note for the geeks, the backs of these cards are spectacular. They're a mandala made from the female form with all the chakra points identified. That's not obvious at first, but if you look closely you'll see. All share a common crown chakra. You can see the backs here:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/24/11—Considering Humanity and Divinity

Today's Draw: The Chariot from the Watcher Angel Tarot—Enoch. If you're on a spiritual path, why do you think you're on it? What do you hope to attain? Ultimately, where do you think all the work you do here on earth will land you in the afterlife?

The chariot is traditionally drawn with a charioteer marshaling horses so that he may move forward. The horses are sometimes going in opposing directions, meaning the charioteer needs to exercise control and force to balance the opposing energies so he can progress in his intended direction. 

In the Watcher Angel Tarot, the chariot represents the prophet Enoch who rose to the heavens, then became the archangel Metatron. Metatron's power is thought to be second only to God's. In this deck, the movement represented by the Chariot is upward. It's ascension into our higher selves. 

The way upward is as difficult as the way forward. The opposing parts of our minds keep us from traveling into our divinity in a straight line. If you consider our soul the charioteer and our humanity the horses, it makes sense. Our soul knows where to steer us, but our human-like ego, doubt and fear have to be reigned in before we can share the soul's visions and move forward, upward. 

Some of the things that can pull the charioteer off course are seeing ourselves as separate from others, holding resentments in our hearts, choosing not to apologize when we know we're wrong, staying safe when it's time to grow and doubting in the magic of our higher power. Of course, there are thousands of things that steer us off course, but most will have to do with separation, fear and doubt. 

Not that there's anything wrong with any of that. It's all part of being human, and that's what we're here for, after all. As far as I believe, we all end up in the same place in the end, regardless of how far onward or upward we travel here on earth. Once we let go of life, the charioteer faces no more resistance. 

To me, the spiritual path has nothing to do with getting to "heaven" or the state of ascension faster or more completely. It's about those rare moments of experiencing divinity here on earth. When our souls are sent here, they come with the mantle of humanity attached to them. When we're in the afterworld in our perfect soul incarnation, we see that world through the eyes of purity and truth. And we can look down on earth from a distance. But the only time we get to be on earth and truly experience the beauty and truth of this incarnation is when we look at it through the eyes of our souls. And to do that, we need to strip off the fear, ego and doubt. When we look into this world's truth, we look into our own. And, in that way, the spiritual path makes the human experience more special. For me. 

Regardless of whether we choose a spiritual path in this life or not, it is a choice. Why have you chosen the path you're on? And keep in mind, I'm not talking about God or religion, necessarily, but the human as a spirit traveling on the earth. For as much as I talk about spirituality, I neither believe in any religion, nor any deity. When I speak of God, I speak of the collective of all things...the whole that is greater than the sum of it's parts, rather than a power looking down on us and taking notes. If you believe in the spirit nature of humans, why do you ultimately believe it? And if you don't believe it, why do you ultimately not believe it? What do you think our role as humans is?