Friday, February 24, 2012

The Week of 2/26/12—Learning to Be as Smart as a Daffodil

Sitting out on my deck earlier this week, I looked up to see something totally unexpected. At first, even worrisome. 

Hiding out behind my hammock in the corner of the yard was a bright patch of yellow. Daffodils! A full week before February had ended, which is perhaps three weeks earlier than usual. 

At first it bothered me. We've had an unusually warm winter this year and early daffodils in Washington, DC can mean two things...frozen daffodils, which is always sad because too much of that can shorten the lifespan of the blooms. And it could also mean early cherry blossoms. 

We don't talk about it, but many Washingtonians secretly worry about the cherry blossoms each year. They ARE a national treasure, after all. They make our region special. And they are a HUGE tourist attraction. This being the 100-year celebration makes the timing of 2012's blooms even more critical, as it's a month-long festival this year. The official site is mum on this year's projections. But my pear blossom looks like it's a week or so from blooming, so I worry for the festival. 

But you know what? The daffodils aren't concerned. Neither are the cherry trees. Today they're enjoying a 60 degree spring day full of nourishing rain. The buds and blooms will survive tonight's wind and tomorrow night's cold. And, looking ahead in the forecast, they'll have enough sun and rain to live their normal lifespan, albeit a few weeks early.

Daffodils and cherry trees and every other plant on this earth have an innate wisdom that tells them just what to do and when, in order to optimize their survival. They're programmed to find water, follow the sun, adapt to changes in the environment and reproduce. They don't try to out-think these processes. They just do them. And they don't give a fig what month it is. They just follow nature's cues.

Animals have that innate wisdom, too—an intelligence that not only helps them survive, but communicate, as well. As animals, our bodies innately know when to go into defense mode to fight illness. They know how to sense danger and fear, as well as safety and love. And we have a sixth sense that also allows us to sense things despite a lack of rational evidence. A well observed example of this is the phenomena of dogs who know when their owners are coming home. 

But humans are unique among all living species in that our critical thinking skills cause us to second-guess and/or cast aside our instincts and intuition. We have these wonderful, factory-installed capabilities that we override all the time. Something tells us to turn left and we turn right because right is the fastest way. When the doctor tells us everything is OK, but we still feel things are wrong, we defer to the doctor because he knows best. Something tells us not to trust so-and-so, but we do it anyway because we don't want to be rude.

These critical thinking skills are valuable, because they drive problem-solving and invention. But they can also steer us away from higher wisdom we could be accessing. Instead of sensing weather or using natural cues, we measure it with instruments we deem greater than our own—and our instinctual intelligence around weather atrophies. Instead of asking our body which choice is best for us, we consult our rational mind and ignore our gut instincts. Instead of listening to that little voice in our heads, we follow habit and diminish the value of inner knowing.

Each day, all around us, there are whispers guiding back us back into balance, not only within ourselves, but within the natural world. But between our iPods and TVs and even books and knitting, we occupy our heads with "noise" that drowns these whispers out. So this week, see what happens when you reconnect to that voice within. Here are five things to try:
  1. Listen to the voice in your head. If something tells you to turn right when you normally turn left, turn right and see what happens. If you get a bad feeling about someone, avoid them, even it means being rude. And if something makes you think of someone out of the blue, call them. Pay attention to that voice when it pops up and see if steers you wrong or right. 
  2. Acknowledge coincidences. If you think of a song, then hear it playing on the radio, give yourself a point. If you dream about something, then something like it happens, another point. If you think of someone and they call, another point. When you start acknowledging coincidence, you see how often it actually happens. And when you see how quickly the points add up, you begin to realize that something else is at work between you and your environment, and coincidence isn't as random as you think.
  3. Ask your gut. Whenever I get really anxious about something, I literally ask my gut. I get quiet and still within. I take a few deep breaths and relax. Then I take one deep breath and on the exhale I make a statement about the thing I'm anxious about, such as "Magick loves her mommy." And while I'm exhaling, I monitor my does it feel? If it feels relaxed and good, that means the statement is true. If it's jumbly and full of butterflies, that means my girl hates me. We all have this kind of a yes/no lie detector within. Exercise that muscle and you'll see how reliable it is.
  4. Consult your higher self. Get into a quiet place and still your mind, like in meditation. Then, inside your head, ask about something you want to know about. Then just listen and trust whatever comes.
  5. Play with your sixth sense. Next time your phone rings, guess who it is before you look. Try to communicate something to an animal without speaking or moving. See if you can "feel" the energy or mood of someone in your household. Try to predict when and where the car in front of you will turn. Wake up in the morning and think of a random word, like "hinge" and see if someone says it to you. There are million tiny tests you can perform to practice either anticipating or shaping your reality. So try it out and see if it works for you. 
You don't have to do everything above. Just choose one exercise to play with this week and see what happens. Like any skill, even an innate one takes practice when it's something you haven't used in a while. 

There's so much we have to be grateful for as humans. Living in this time is a privilege. But it could come at a great cost if we lose touch with that part of us that is in sync with universal intelligence. The more we push instinct and intuition aside—or develop algorithms that handle our thinking for us—the further away we move from what is natural for an organic species. These gifts were given to us for our survival on this planet. But our critical thinking skills tell us we can outwit those silly tools and create better ones. 

The result? We form a false sense of security predicated on our ability to control our environment. But that, of course, is an illusion. We are the only species alive on this planet that has forgotten who is in control. We are the only species who purposely separates itself from the rest of the natural world. And we are the only species who relies on non-organic technology. Everything my daffodils need to survive is encoded in their bulbs. If we lose touch with what's encoded within us in favor of what's encoded into the myriad devices we use to run our days—if we lose our connection to what REALLY runs our days—then those days are certainly numbered. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2/24/12—2/26/12—Feeding Your Inner Artist

Weekend Reading: Dancer Prince from Tarot of the Sidhe. This is the weekend to feed your inner tortured artist. Get out your gouache. Pen some poetry. Twinkle your toes. Come out from behind your safe stick in the mud and create like nobody's watching. It really doesn't matter whether you do it "good" or "right", what matters is the healing, revitalizing energies that move through you when you do it. Think of it as spring cleaning for the soul! Blow out the gunk and funk of winter and come alive with creativity!

NOTE: The Dancer Prince is the same as the Knight of Cups we had day before yesterday. Just for funsies, take a look at this card vs. that card. Both are the soul of the romantic, but in different ways.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2/23/12—Absorbing the Mother

Today's Draw: The Moon from the Rohrig Tarot. What have you inherited from your mother? Is it possible you've inherited more than just physical and personality traits? Do you have memories, leanings and wounds you can't account for?

The Moon card is a card of the unconscious, a place of our most primal urgings, nightmares, motivations, fears and emotions. It is where the seeds of creativity are planted. The place from which our fears rush forth. All those answers we spend our lifetimes seeking are locked within this frightening and alluring place. 

The symbol to the right of the moon is Othala, a rune symbol of inheritance. From time to time I think about the things we inherit from our parents...the things that are passed down from generation to generation. For example, I have my mother's Irish features. I have her poetic, spiritual soul. And I have a funny way of saying "ing" words that, apparently, is common in American children of British parents.

These are the kind of genetic and social inheritances we all know about. But what I sometimes think about is, is it possible to inherit psychic scars...traumas? For example, when one of my brothers was in my mother's womb, she had a sudden and dramatic fear of heights while standing on a mountaintop. That brother is the only one in our family that was born with a terrible fear of heights. My mother only had that phobia that one time. So it's like something in the chemical change that particular day was transferred to him and latched on to. 

So, to the degree that a mother who, say, smoked crack, passes that chemical dependency on to her children, can there be more subtle ways of exchanging chemically coded information in the womb? Can the same thing be said about thoughts? Aversions? Fears? Traumas? And other high-octane emotions, good or bad? All those things change the chemical makeup of a person.

My mother died when I was 21, so all those kinds of questions you might ask your mother as an adult never got asked by me. So many of the things I would be curious about are lost to the ether, because there's no one alive who has the answers. And some of the things I'd like to know are things only she could have answered anyway, because they're more the kind of questions you ask yourself. 

She was the oldest of five children. She was, we believe, sexually abused by her father. Then he abandoned the family and the mother went to work, leaving my mother with the children. Then the Germans bombed their home for a few years during WWII and my mother was in charge in rations, so she decided who would eat and how much. All of this before she was an adult.

How can that kind of persistent stress not change your entire chemical makeup? And how can that not affect any child you carry inside you, even years later? I often wonder if I carry some of those psychic wounds inside me...if they are the reason behind some of the fears and defenses that I can't seem to find the origin of when I poke around in my murky unconscious.

Likewise, my mother was born in India and the first couple of years of her life were spent living there and in Egypt. She was blessed by Ghandi. Some of her first words were in Hindustani. She was weaned on the mystical energies of pyramids, sun gods and Ganesha. Though my mother had no religious allegiance and rarely brought these things up, how come I've been SO fascinated by mysticism, polytheism and more earth or elementally based beliefs all my life? The only religion actually brought into our household and encouraged in any measure was Catholicism/Christianity.

It's a slippery slope, because who's to say it's not behaviorally inherited from the way she carried herself in the world? The thing is, by the time I came along, she'd healed enough to be in a stable relationship with a good man who made her feel safe. My older siblings remember things that could be traced back to her childhood traumas, but by the time I rolled around in her mid-thirties, she didn't seem to carry those scars with her in a significant way anymore. But perhaps she did. And as for the spiritual stuff, more than anything for ME, the house was religion neutral or even religion-free. My siblings, however, were all raised Catholic.

It's an interesting thing to consider. I speak of my mother, of course, because a father only offers genes to the equation. And while I do often wonder if some of this stuff is encoded in the genes, only the mother offers the environment for growth. The plant may come from the fertilized seed, but it's significantly affected by the quality and chemical makeup of the soil it grows in.

What do you think of all of this? Are there aspects of you that can't find the roots for in yourself, but you can see how the roots might extend to your mother? Do you think the origins occurred in vitro or were they passed to you through social means? And if you're a mother, can you see how some intense emotional moment that might have happened during your pregnancy shaped your child in some way?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2/22/12—Living Happily Ever After

Today's Draw: Knight of Cups from the Infinite Visions. Do you believe in love at first sight? What about "happily ever after"? Is there some part of you that believes fairy tales are possible?

The book for this deck says "you may fall in love at first sight. Relish the feeling. It is probably temporary." Reading that made me laugh, mostly because it's so true. 

We've all "fallen in love" at first sight with the wrong person, right? Or even if it was the right person, we soon learned it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. There are five words that either literally or figuratively appear at the end of every love story that have totally screwed society because they are simply not true—"they lived happily ever after."

Those five words are the expectation of nearly every mutual attraction that has ever occurred. And they're the same five words that have delivered pretty much every divorce that ever occurred. This is what we've been brainwashed into expecting and when we don't get it, we're disappointed. Some choose to look for it elsewhere. Others just wallow in their bitterness. And still, it rarely occurs to any bride or groom who walks down the aisle that just it ain't gonna happen. There's no such thing as happily ever after, yet everyone believes their love will emulate the fairy tale.

Under no circumstances—married, coupled or single—do any of us live happily ever after. Even the Dalai Lama has bad days. Relationships take work. Just imagine if the fairy tales had told the much better off we'd all be if they had just said "and they struggled forth together, finding happiness in fits and spurts along the way." That's not so bad, is it? Reality isn't so awful. What's awful is placing the burden of "happily ever after" on someone you love. 

Another thing I thought of when I saw the Knight of Cups and the book's description is how I feel sometimes when I buy something. Like I'll be all whipped up in a romantic frenzy with some "treasure" I've found online and when it finally arrives in the mail, it's like "what possessed me to buy this turkey?" (Which I'm sure is what women say about their husbands at times...haha). 

So this leads me to two rules I've set for myself. The first is to be suspect of all "love at first sight" and "soul mate" BS with men. Sure, it turns out successfully sometimes...some rare times. But most of the time you're attracted to someone for reasons you cannot know and when you try to wedge it into a love mold, everyone loses. Either that or you're attracted to the one person who will drive you insane so that you'll learn a certain life lesson from them. That's the reality. So no sense in diving into some fantasy that no man, living or dead or fictional, could possibly live up to. The fastest way to choke out any chance of love—love that deepens and grows over time—is to jump into a relationship too quickly because it's "love at first sight". If it's really love, it can wait for 2nd sight and 10th and 20th sight before you decide he's the one. 

And the same thing goes for online purchases...haha. That's my second rule. If I see something I like, I earmark it and, if it's still calling out desperately to me after 24 hours, I can take a second look, with "sober" eyes, and see if I want to buy it. No more sudden and desperate urges for juicers I have no counter space for or dresses my body can't pull off and I'll never wear anyway because I don't wear dresses. Sure, it's fun to go with the thrill every now and then. But if it's happiness you're looking for, it will wait until you can see the path more clearly.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2/21/12—Honoring Struggle and Strife

Today's Draw: Five of Wands from the Rosetta Tarot. Do you see struggle and strife as necessary things? What gifts have these moments given you? What have they taken away?

This card depicts Sekhmet, an Egyptian warrior goddess and goddess of healing, standing with hands clenched. Behind her are a scythe and a phoenix headed wand, then two lotus wands. The phoenix symbolizes renewal through fire and the lotus wands speak of healing through destabilization. 

What it comes down to is that sometimes you've just got to go through unpleasantness in order for change and healing to happen. Sucks, but it's true. When I look back through my life and look at the worst stuff that's happened to me, all those moments of conflict, struggle and discord have given me the biggest opportunity for growth and evolution. And—this is the important part—the amount to which I've clenched my fists against the strife or opened myself to experiencing the fullness of it was key to what kind of a net impact those circumstances would have in my life.

From those moments I've become less needy in my relationships. I've become more able to stand in my own sense of accomplishment and capability. I define myself more by what I feel to be true of myself than what others project upon me. I've become less gullible. More honest with myself. Stronger. More forgiving. More compassionate. And, through struggle, I found a set of beliefs that define my character and spirituality, regardless of circumstance. 

On the flip side, I would say those same instances have made me less trusting, more jaded, less "available" in the romantic sense, less likely to trust in the American justice system and, while these times may not have built any new walls within me, they certainly didn't do anything to chip away at the ones that were there. And I also have to admit to losing years of progress in one case in particular, due my inability to just let the experience flow. I clenched my fists. I got stuck.

For me, the thing I mourn the most from my own most difficult moments, though, is the loss of innocence. And I mean that in the sense that "ignorance is bliss". Struggle and conflict often begin with the lifting of eyelids...and often end with eyes wide open. You gain a new vision of the world that is less Utopian—and more realistic—than the one you had before. The reality makes you more capable of dealing with the slings and arrows of the world. But the loss of innocence leaves callouses where there was softness before. I'm glad to be who I am today as the result of the struggles in my life. But I'm also sad for the bits of fairy dust that were shed in its wake. 

A new chapter of struggle and strife has begun for my family over the past couple of months, as one of my siblings is seriously ill. I have a good idea of what I'm losing in terms of innocence and human loss, but not quite sure of what gifts will come in its wake. My greatest wish is that, once the focus moves from the pain of our loss, the opportunity for healing and growth that this phase brings will be used to its fullest...that everyone involved will approach this new phase of our lives not with clenched fists, but with open arms.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2/20/12—Being the Cat

Today's Draw: The Three of WTF—Human Centipede Cat Toy—from the Regretsy Tarot. Do you use your energetic tools consciously to shape your life? Or do just do the best with whatever comes along? When it comes to commanding your own life, do you live more like the cat or the cat toy?

We've featured the Regretsy Tarot before. For those of you not there at the time, this deck mocks some of the more ill-fated creative decisions made on popular crafting website, etsy. Don't even bother worrying about which tarot suit the WTF suit corresponds to. It doesn't correspond to any suit other than, perhaps, a hand-crafted, Swarovski crystal-studded business suit for your pet iguana to wear to important meetings.

In all its horrific wisdom, though, the Three of WTF poses a good question for you to consider today. The card shows two cats, both bearing the intuitive third eye and a tail for each eye. But that's not the WTF the card refers to. Because the cats are playing with what appears to be entrails, possibly from the Human Centipede cat toy at their feet.

While there were no such cat toys on etsy today, a search returned 17 Human Centipede items, from clothing to MacBook stickers. For its decorative use of ric rac, I like this one. But what's more likely to go into MY household is this.

But I digress. The question the card poses is this—are you the cat or the cat toy in this lifetime? And while I can hear all the feet shuffling to vote in the "cat" line, really consider the question. Because here's the thing...

We're given these gifts in life...the intuitive awareness that comes with the third eye, the ability to attract and spread energy that comes with the triple tails and an interconnectedness that doesn't require surgical attachment. But do we use those gifts to command our own lives? Or do we just let it lie there like toy entrails on the ground for the universe to play with? 

Do you really know your power?

This card dovetails nicely with this week's nature-inspired reading about the impact we have on the universe every day. Because, along with the ability to disrupt and shape the universe, comes the ability to reshape your life. Those ripples send and receive information every millisecond of the day. We can attract the energies we want, and move out of the direct influence of the energies we don't. We can connect with others in meaningful (again, non-surgical) ways. And we can move and redirect energies in healing ways. 

So if your thoughts and actions send out waves to create things in your life, are you watching your thoughts and actions? Are you re-molding your life from one of chaos to one of consciousness? Are you using your energies in a healing way? Are you consciously sending and receiving? Or are just kinda doing that stuff when you think about it?

Although we're all born to be the cats, it takes work and focus and practice to claim your birthright. It takes thinking of what you want as if you have it, rather than thinking about what you don't have. It takes being conscious of the ripples you send out to others...healing or not? It takes a willingness to drop hate, resentment, vengeance, bitterness and distrust from your emotional vocabulary. It takes gratitude. It takes grace. In other words, it takes an open heart, one not constricted by the thought that you're like some and unlike others. It takes a consciousness of being one with everything. It takes a whole new level of maturity and work. 

It's ok if you're not 100% on all of that. No one will be at first...or possibly even ever. And it doesn't matter one bit what the person next to you is doing. This isn't about them. It's about you. Their dislike of you has nothing to do with how open your heart can be to them. You don't need their cooperation to make this work in your life. 

And it also doesn't matter whether you believe in Jesus, Buddha or Salty the Pretzel Man. It's all about stepping into the light, wherever it comes from, and cooperating with it, rather than fighting it. Acting like someone who's worthy of it. And making it brighter, rather than diminishing it. It may seem like a lot of less work to just be the cat toy and be done with it. But when you look at your options in light of the illustration in the Three of WTFs, you'll probably agree, it's far be the cat.