Friday, February 10, 2012

The Week of 2/12/12—Contemplating Extinction

Looks like someone needs a new fishin' spot.
I used to worry about saving the planet from pollution and other toxins. But that doesn't concern me anymore. Turns out there's something much bigger to worry about....

There's a special place along the river where I like to sit and just be. Years back I had a habit of going to this particular spot a couple of times a week. It's within a heavily wooded shoreline and the trees on either side of the sittin' spot frame the river and view perfectly. It was cool to see the seasons change from that same vantage point. Spring to summer. Summer to fall. Fall to winter.

I must have started there in spring, because I enjoyed quite some time there before the littering started. Then every time I would go to this spot back in the woods, there would be soda bottles and bait cups and all manner of chip bags strewn about. The fishermen didn't even try to bag their trash. They just left it—and the bags it came in—where they used it.

So each time I visited, I brought a bag. And I picked their trash up. And I deposited it in the trashcans back in the parking lot. The same trashcans they passed every time they came there to fish. And after a while I started thinking, "they probably think a fairy comes by and cleans up after them. So I'm really just enabling their behavior."

Gaia killed the dinosaurs for less.
I thought of making a sign and posting it on one of the trees. I visited less often. And after a while, I grew so weary and disheartened that I just abandoned the spot altogether and found another.

After a month or two, it was spring again and I missed my spot. So I thought I'd give it a try. I loaded up with bags and hiked back into the woods to my special place, braced for all the trash I would find there. But there was none! Nothing!

I plunked down in my spot and took in everything. The sun sparkling on the river. The beauty of the opposite shoreline. The ducks and ducklings paddling by. And I looked up to see the fresh green leaves on the trees overhead and....there were at least three fishing lines and hooks caught up in the branches. It seems that, when the leaves started to come, the canopy prevented the fishermen from casting their lines!

At first I chuckled at Mother Nature's brilliance. Then it hit me. There I was worrying about saving the planet when we should all be worried about saving ourselves! Mother Nature was here billions of years before us. She survived methane air, the dinosaurs, geomagnetic reversal and all sorts of scary crap. And she came out of it looking pretty darned awesome and bountiful.

It's time to start calling a spade a spade. The earth isn't in any danger. We are. Instead of talking about climate change, we should be talking about species change. Because soon it will behoove her to choke us out, rather than suffer the case of the sniffles we're inflicting on her with our holes in the ozone and non-biodegradable toxin-infused trash. In 100 years, she'll have covered all evidence of us being here. And in 10,000 years, they'll have to use sonar and soil samples and carefully calibrated instruments to even know we ever existed. And Mother Nature? She'll have aged the equivalent of maybe two human weeks. 

This is an unfortunate reality of most urban shorelines.
Of course, we don't choose to see it this way, but what's going on here is a war. It's humans vs. Gaia. And we somehow have the arrogance to think we could possibly win when 99.9% of everything that's ever lived on this planet has lost. Who's the only one that's won? The gentle, unassuming ferns, that's who! To the earth, we're just another self-important species going extinct. Like the Cave Lion, T Rex and Quagga. What's a Quagga? Critters will be asking the same thing about humans a couple hundred years from now.

So this week, consider what's really at stake with the choices you make each day—and beyond your relationship to the earth. Consider other things you may have a skewed perspective on. A pet owner may think nothing of letting their dog run off leash—until it gets hit by a car. A person may think nothing of smoking cigarettes—until they get lung cancer. A husband may think nothing of having a passing affair—until he loses his wife and children.

There is something ingrained in the human psyche that a) makes us think we're the most important and powerful thing on earth b) makes us seem beyond extinction as a species and c) allows us to justify and/or blind ourselves to things we KNOW are wrong or against our best interests.

As far as the things we justify are concerned, we know what those things are because they're the things we don't openly discuss with others. So start there. What wouldn't you tell your cubicle mate about your life? And how can you turn your thoughts around on that so that you clearly see what's at stake?

There are spiritual folk who believe earth is just one of many places a soul goes to learn lessons. And they say earth is the most beautiful and difficult of all those places. It would suck to cut your time short here only to end up in some brown, chalky, dimly lit desert in the next lifetime. We could all do well by sparing a moment to take inventory of what it means to be worthy of this place, this body, this opportunity and this gift we call life.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2/10/12-2/12/12—Getting Your Motor Running

Weekend Reading: Knight of Pentacles from the Darkana Tarot. The deck's creator, Daniel Donche, calls him stubborn and obsessive, but to me this Knight of Pentacles is a rebel—the kind that turns every man-lover's least the ones who want their hearts broken. And what that spells for our weekend is a little wildness, a little release from our normal repressive selves. I would never recommend anything unsafe or (significantly) illegal, but that still leaves a lot of room for spinning around recklessly, running around with your clothes off and sticking it to the man. If you've got a motorcycle, use it. If you don't, turn up your car's heat and ride around with the windows open. Yeah, you heard me, waste some gasoline. And laugh maniacally while you do it. This is the weekend to nurture your inner rebel. 

Love the grungy feel to this deck.

Coinkadinkally, today's card is part of a rebel trend. Instead of seeking a traditional publisher, tarot artists raise money to produce their own decks. It's kind of like a pre-order. But if they don't get the funding, you get your money back. The Darkana Tarot is by Dan Donche, aka Inappropriate Tarot Readings. And you can fund the deck (pre-order it) at

Uh oh.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2/9/12—Being Golden With the Golden Rule

Today's Draw: The Eight of Coins from the Maroon Tarot. Have you ever been the object of some sort of prejudice? Do you ever wish someone understood that part of you? And while you're hoping for that kind of consideration, do you truly follow the Golden Rule?

The Eight of Coins is a card that usually depicts a person hard at work on their craft. It's the card of the second-time apprentice and suggests starting something new. The Eight of Cups from the Maroon Tarot is different from any I've ever seen, because it shows someone in a pointy "witches" hat, setting off on a journey (or arriving somewhere new), a little bent over and in thought. 

Tarot is all about what you seen in the cards in the moment. In this card, I see a witch who has a hard day and yet is still moving forward with her good works. This makes me think of the prejudice and assumptions people make based on the fact that someone reads tarot:

1. They think you're a witch or practice Wicca
2. They think you're going to tell them they're going to die
3. They're afraid you'll put a spell on them
4. They think you're in cahoots with the dark side
5. They think your readings are BS...a sham

Needless to say I'm none of those things. For anyone curious, I have no religious affiliation, but am very definitely metaphysical, which means I think there's a physical and/or scientific explanation for why things happen in the universe. I believe everything is energy interacting with energy and that there is way more going on out there than we currently know about. So, to review, I don't sacrifice babies (or any other living thing...God and nature are one to me), I don't confer with any false or devious Gods in order to do a reading, and I absolutely do NOT cast spells on people or even wish others bad, primarily because I think it comes right back at you.

Anyway, maybe a month or more ago, something really interesting happened on Facebook. A person who doesn't know me made a crappy little remark to me about me and my cards. They suggested that, because I read tarot cards, I have dark intentions. I mean, anyone who's even read just ONE of my blogs knows that my message is all about moving closer to our higher selves and the light. So I replied back, not in a snippy way or anything, that he might consider he's judging something he knows nothing about, because if he understood what the cards are about, he may not have such a harsh opinion about them. The person was kind enough to apologize for being snippy (probably because he thought I might cast a spell on him...haha) and things ended nicely. 

But that's not what is interesting. The interesting thing is that the very next day, someone came to my Facebook wall in a friendly and curious manner and asked me a series of questions about tarot. They said they felt comfortable approaching me about it, which was a VERY nice thing to say. And we had a thorough discussion on the topic, whereby she asked all the right questions and I gave the answers as I know them. She asked how it works and where the messages come from. What the role of a tarot reader is. Everything! It was the conversation you dream of having with someone who doesn't know. 

Essentially, my answers were that I believe everything is energy interacting with energy. And I don't need the cards to interact with her energy and give her a reading, but they're a useful tool because they spark certain thoughts in me. Just like this card today was about being a second-time apprentice and I'm talking about prejudice and assumptions instead, it's all about what you see in the moment you're reading it. And a reader trusts that she's focusing on a certain element of a card for a reason.

I told her that different tarot readers have different religious beliefs. So some might think the messages are coming from God or Jesus (yes, there are MANY Christian tarot readers and most of the ones I know call themselves Christian) and others might feel they're reading the energy of the person or situation. It's different for different people. And, regardless of their beliefs on that, it works.

And I also told her that, to me, tarot is not about foretelling the future (though it can do that). It's about helping people understand "why" in a way that no other means can. It helps you see a person and/or situation through a lens you can't view it through on your own. It's a more astute adviser than a friend (who probably knows you too well to be objective) and it's the perfect adviser for those day-to-day issues that aren't worth going into therapy for. I want to be careful comparing it to a therapist, though, because tarot readers aren't qualified to guide you through your traumas and inner child issues. This is for people who are relatively emotionally healthy and stable who just have a question about why something is happening in their life.

So one day someone criticizes me because they don't understand. And the next day someone comes seeking understanding. It was full circle moment. And I bring it up because there have been a couple of times lately that I've wondered if the reason someone has responded so negatively toward me is because of the tarot thing. Sometimes we know why people act out toward us...there's a trigger. But other times it just happens for no apparent reason and you wonder (though I could always ask the tarot and never think to do so for myself...haha). This isn't a part of me I hide. And I accept responsibility for that. But I've wondered recently in regard to a couple of incidents where people did know this about me. There are a lot of different views in the world, right or wrong. And it's often hard for use to look past the one thing to see the other million things that exist in a person or the intentions beneath their actions.

As I saw the woman on this card in her witch's hat bent over, yet continuing on, I have to say I feel that way sometimes. Especially lately. Especially after the story I told yesterday. I think it may be connected. Bottom line is that, when I choose to read a person, I do it for good, healing reasons. And I write this blog for good, healing reasons. And there will always be people who will look at it and see darkness, no matter what you do. But you press on.

And on a final note, I apologize to all the Jehovah's Witnesses I've been rude to in the past. I'm not being cheeky. I still don't want you to come to my home for a chat, but I do apologize. Because I can't ask others to see me from the standpoint of my intentions if I can't view them through the standpoint of theirs. All they want to do is serve their beliefs and they're good people inside. It doesn't matter if they can't see past the tarot with me. What matters is that *I* become a good enough person to see past *their* pamphlets. So that's something worthwhile for all of us to consider. It's a nuance of the Golden Rule we often overlook, but it's essential for all of us who seek to walk in the light.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2/8/12—Ending an Unhappy Situation

Today's Draw: Three of Birds from the Blue Dog Rose Tarot by Nakisha. Have you ever had someone despise you for no good reason? Have you ever been bullied away from something you otherwise love? Have you ever given up hope for a happy ending in favor of reaching the end of an unhappy situation?

In the Blue Dog Rose Tarot, birds are the suit of cups. A normal Three of Cups might show three women dancing in friendship and happiness. In this deck, it's a cockatiel with seeds. A happy little bird with a yummy dinner. The card represents a happy conclusion of something. But another note Nakisha put in there is "the mending of an unhappy situation", which is different from a happy ending.

So there's this person I see socially from time to time that literally won't acknowledge I exist. We're in a special-interest group that she leads. I know I've never done anything to rate this treatment—no cross words or anything like that. She doesn't like my personality for one reason or another and her way of getting rid of me is to not acknowledge me. It was one of those "hate at first sight" things. She's never been nice to me. If I say hello to her, she will look away. If I ask her a question, she will look straight at me, blink and turn away. No kidding. I've never encountered anything quite like it. This is a grown woman. 

Anyway, outside of her, I've been quite popular in this group....haha. As far as I know, she's the only one who feels this way about me. I enjoy the people and she's easy enough to avoid. But after a while, it's abusive and eats at you. Over the past year or so, she's assembled a little clique of "mean girls" that are nice if they encounter me, but who nonetheless avoid me like the plague...haha.

I'm pretty good at taking responsibility for the things I do in my life, but I really can't figure out where her hate comes from. I think she'd hoped I'd have left long before now and I haven't. Not that she's ever asked me to leave, suggested I should or discussed any concerns with me. Thing is, there's only one other group like this is in the region and it's not convenient to my home. So it's my only viable option for enjoying something I love to do. In the beginning, my friends there said I should just ignore it and not take it personally. So that's what I've tried to do. And I'm sure that just pisses her off even more. But outside of that, I've never been anything but nice to her and have even tried to reach out the olive branch a couple of times. 

Maybe she was hoping I'd blow up at her or something so I could be kicked out of the group. But I think if you're someone that treats others kindly, that shouldn't be conditional on how they treat you. So I've always been kind and gracious to her. No matter how rude she's been to me. After time, I did take her cue and stopped saying hello to her. It kept both of us from that awkward moment when she would just stare at me, blink and turn away.

Anyway this has been going on a couple of years now. I've managed to put this unpleasantness aside because I have a lot of fun there and have met a lot of people. I never even have to be in the same room with her when I'm there. But a couple of months ago I just stopped going, thinking I just needed some space. And now I've decided to just let go of it altogether. I think sometimes we don't see how stuff like this wears on our psyche over time. I'm ready to walk away.

This isn't a chipper little bird story, as suggested in the card. But it is the mending of an unhappy situation. Sometimes the only way to fix an unhappy situation is to cut your losses and move on. To let go. Even if it means leaving something you enjoy in its wake. 

In the end, it's what's best for both of us, which is always a good resolution. I never have and never will do anything to get back at her. I don't believe in that. Her karma is her business. I'm going to protect mine. Whatever pain is inside her that makes her be this way is far greater than anything she's inflicted on me. My unhappy situation is ended easily by walking away. The ending of her unhappy situation is, unfortunately, significantly more complex.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”
David Whyte, House of Belonging 

Monday, February 6, 2012

2/7/12—Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes

Today's Draw: The Empress from the Tarot of Fire. What are your masculine and feminine qualities? What makes a masculine quality masculine and a feminine quality feminine? What really draws the line between male and female?

The Empress is the embodiment of the feminine in the tarot. She is usually depicted pregnant or with children—the mother, the nurturer, soft, loving, abundant. Her power comes from her emotional breadth, her thoughtfulness, her ability to nurture and her physical ability to create and carry life. 

But that's not how today's Empress is depicted. Today's Empress is a muscular, menacing, badass mofo with toxic green smoke flowing from her perfectly manicured fingertips. She seems to have some sort of facial piercing, her eyes are set on "Destruct" and my guess is that this isn't the best time to ask her to make you a sandwich.

This deck has non-traditional images.
We have these gender roles we play and have always played. Because women are, on average, smaller and physically weaker than men, we play a softer role. And when our masculine, more forceful sides come roaring out there can only be one explanation—we're "on the rag". We're socialized to downplay any physical strength or threat and up-play our emotional strengths and subservience. But I'm thinking that any woman, during "her time" or not, knows she's capable of what this Empress embodies. And our true strength is in being kind enough to refrain ourselves from unleashing it on the world.

Each card is based on a fire myth.
I feel like I'm someone who could be considered well balanced between what we call "masculine" and "feminine". I'm all Enjoli and shite. But I wonder why, when there are so many of what we call "butch" women and "effeminate" men out there...when there is so much crossover between traditional gender roles...such a spectrum...why we still attribute certain qualities to men and certain ones to women? If I said that I was feminine because I'm nurturing, is that fair to all the men out there? And if a man said he was masculine because he was a "leader" would that be fair to me? 

Really, who owns gentleness, strength, aggression, sensitivity, vulnerability or bravery? When "they" say you should balance your masculine and feminine sides, don't they really mean you should just be balanced? Is an effeminate man any less of a man...a butch woman any less of a woman? In a world where even chromosomes can no longer tell a person who they are, why are we clinging to all these labels? And if we continue to buy into these roles where feminine qualities are softer, weaker and more subservient, can the two sexes ever really be equal? When do we just become....people?

Pips are fully illustrated.
If we believe in equality, then a black person is simply a person. A homosexual couple is just a couple. And a woman is simply a human being. Sure, for most of us, there will always be the chromosomal and biological differences. For most of us. But when we start drawing a line between male and female based on gender roles and characteristics, we diminish the power of one over the other, we cause confusion for those who don't adhere to recipe and we muffle the full expression of the person each of us came here to be.

I'm not a big woman's libber, because I've always believed that someone who moves through this world like an equal—not with arrogance or a chip on their shoulder, but truly believing they're an equal—will be treated like one. If I'm considered less worthy or if I earn less based on the fact I have breasts, I'm not aware of it. I don't look for evidence of inequity, I assume equality. But I think it's time for us to take the next big step and  become conscious of how we sort and label others. Most of us attach masculine and feminine qualities to people and label them as such. It's just something to consider, because there can only be a "stronger" or "weaker" sex if we allow there to be.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2/6/12—Unbagging Our Baggage

Today's Draw: The World from Beth Seilonen's Awaken deck. Were you ever told to leave things from the past in the past? Have you packed all your baggage away and said good riddance to it once and for all? Or are you proud of surviving the stupid and the horrible and don't care who knows about it?

Beth Seilonen is probably the most prolific deck artist out there. She creates mostly small-quantity, limited edition, majors only decks. This Awaken deck is only 1 of 13. It is a companion to her Awareness deck, that I also have. If you visit her etsy shop, you can snag a copy of her Fishy Tarot, which is a full 78-card deck. I have that one and love it. She has also recently published a mass-market 78-card deck called Tarot Leaves.

The World card is about a successful completion of a cycle. But something Beth said in her interpretation of this card makes me think about how each of us is the sum total of everything we've ever done. So you are not your most recent failure or success. You're not your career. Or your state of parenthood. Or that jail term you served back in the '80s. Nor are you merely the "saved" person you've become. You're all of it, good and bad, shameful and triumphant.

Sometimes we tend to look at ourselves—or present ourselves—through a particular lens. Some of us still carry the characterizations that were placed on us as children when we've completely changed that part of ourselves. Some may re-write history, preferring not to own the mistakes we've made in the past. Some dwell on a mistake they made 20 years ago as if it's all they are. 

We talk about our "baggage" like it's something unmentionable when, in fact, it's our personal history and every bit a part of who we are today as anything else that's happened in our lives. It shouldn't define us. Nor should it be shoved aside.

Most, if not all of us, have experienced some sort of trauma in our lives. At the time of our trauma, it became who we were at that time. Then people got tired of us being that way and we were sent off to deal with any lingering issues by ourselves. Over time, that became part of our baggage and we were told not to bring it up if we wanted to keep a lover, for example. So we bury these little bundles of shame further and further back in our psyche in an effort to forget it ever happened, because that's what makes the people around us feel more comfortable. And when we think about that stuff today, we feel bad, like we should be over it already.

But here's the thing, as long as we view these events as something "bad" or to be kept in silence, we allow them to hold power over hold us hostage. When we deny something in our shadow, we deny the lessons, the experience, the influence and the gift it offered to our lives. As long as we hold it at arm's length—whether our excuse is that we should be over it or we don't want to give it power—we allow it to hold us down. We're fighting against it instead of accepting it. Healing and integration happen in cycles and layers just like everything else. So it's normal it would come up for review now and again. It's normal that things we see or do would trigger its memories within us. 

And if we never share our baggage with a lover or a friend, for example, then we're really holding intimacy at bay. We're saying, "love me for what I choose to show you", rather than "love me for who really I am". We never get the kind of understanding and acceptance we're really looking for in life. 

So consider what you may be denying in your life. What fears are you running away from? 
What gifts have you refused to accept? If you're always looking at your life through a lens of your shortcomings, how can you expect to find self love? And if you're always looking at your life through a lens of your triumphs, then you'll always be chased by the demons of your shortcomings. Only when we integrate all that we are, without shame or denial, can we truly shed the things that hold us back and move forward in the confidence of our true selves.