Friday, March 2, 2012

Week of 3/4/12—Observing Life's Magic

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon prepare to align 
with my neighbor's house on 2/26/12.
Most nights, in the wee hours, you can find me out back on my deck, gazing up at the sky. But it's not the genius of the universe that keeps me coming back night after night. It's something much closer to home....

I'm like the US Postal Service in that weather doesn't stop me from my nightly watch. There doesn't even have to be stars. In fact, I've been known to accumulate an inch of snow on my blankets, at times. Only a hard rain can keep me away, because at that point, sitting under my soffit will no longer keep me dry.

When I'm out there looking up at the stars, you'd think I'd be contemplating the enormity and wonder of the universe. And sometimes I do. I wonder how far away a particular star is or think about how it could have died a thousand years ago, but I can still see it because it's more than a thousand light years away. It's like peering into history.

Over time, I've become marginally capable of spotting constellations and such. I can always spot Mars, because it really does have a redder cast than other "stars" (yes, I know Mars is a planet). And I like to look for Orion, not only because I can spot it easily, but also because its belt is made up of three stars called the Three Sisters. And I'm one of three sisters. Then, of course, there's the Big Dipper or Ursa Major. And I check for Polaris most nights, just to make sure it's still there. If it should happen to disappear suddenly, I want to know first hand.

But here's the thing...I wouldn't know any of that if it weren't for the help of a kick-ass app called Star Walk. So what truly amazes me as I gaze up at the sky each night is how ancient man knew all of this stuff without consulting their iPhones. Here are just a few of the mindblowing things ancient man did with his skills of observation of the night sky:
  • The Mayan Calendar. The long count Mayan calendar dates back to the 5th century BC. It is more accurate than our Gregorian calendar because it measures the length of a year essentially down to the second. We add a leap day every 4 years to account for this difference, measuring a year as 365.25 days. In fact, a year is 11 minutes shorter than that which, over decades and scores and centuries, adds up. The Mayans, in 500BC knew about those 11 minutes based on precise calculations made on data observed over hundreds of years. They devoted generations of observation to the sun and night sky to create the most accurate calendar known to man—over 2500 years ago!
  • The Antikytheria Mechanism. Recovered from a shipwreck in 1900 and dated back to the 1st century BC, this mechanism is known as the world's first computer. Among other things, it precisely measures the location of celestial bodies and also accounts for that extra quarter day each year—150 years before any official calendar ever did. With all our modern instruments, we still don't know how they made it or why.
  • The Pyramids, Stonehenge, etc. Whether Mayan or Egyptian, the pyramids display multiple alignments that correspond to the night sky—not just within the individual pyramids themselves, but between multiple pyramids miles apart. Stonehenge was built in 3000-2000 BC and contains astrological elements, including stones that mark solstices and equinoxes. Around the world there are lesser structures that shadow light in a certain way, depending upon where the sun is, also pointing out solstices and other celestial events. It's not just the years of observation that went into the certainty behind creating these structures, but the import placed on the sun, moon and stars that drove ancient man to find ways to create megolithic structures. We still don't know how they created those structures without modern machinery. But they found a way. It was that important to them.
In addition to all that, some believe that many prehistoric cave paintings were actually drawings of constellations, rather than animals...they were using animals to represent what they saw in the night sky. We're talking 15,000 or more years ago...before farming and "civilization" itself. Certainly those who were so attuned to their environment couldn't miss certain patterns in the night sky. But if they were actually recording them? It boggles the mind! This is stuff that we're still figuring out today and ancient man, if not prehistoric man, had a bead on it way before they had instruments to measure and observe it.

We walk through our days, focused on getting to a destination or completing an errand and we never stop to just take in our environment. As a result, our pets and children (and ourselves) seem to age all of a sudden. We mean to get around to something and years later it's still left untouched. We fail to see relationships slipping away.

Let's face it, our focus on intentional observation has diminished considerably over time, unless you're a scientist or something. And with it, we've lost that sense of mystery and awe that kept ancient man on the edge of his seat when it came to things like the night sky. Now it's just something many of us take for granted. Which begs the question...what else might be going on right under your nose that you might not be noticing?

Over the next week or so, try one of the following and see what it yields:
  • Watch grass grow. With spring upon us, now would be a great time to observe what's popping out of the ground and how fast it grows. Check one or two times a day and compare to surrounding plants. Who grows faster? Who dies faster? What can you learn from that?
  • Observe a relationship between you and someone else. Instead of viewing it subjectively, however, pull back and view it objectively. See how that person's body language changes around you. See if and when they avert their eyes while talking to you. Notice their tone and facial expressions. Is this person engaged with you? Are they on your side? Or do they have something to hide? Step outside of your body and emotions to see this relationship from the standpoint of a dispassionate observer.
  • Go Mars spotting. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, the dude is out there every night right now. It rises in the east before sunset and sets in the west after sunrise at this time of year. It will appear as the brightest "star" in the sky and it will have a reddish tinge to it. Check a few times a night to see how fast it moves across the sky. If you're viewing Mars on March 3, you should know that the earth is passing directly between Mars and the Sun on that date, which is why it's so spectacularly bright right now. It is also the closest to Earth as it ever gets. A special time for Mars spotting. 
This isn't about intuition or psychic power. It's not about hugging trees or talking to squirrels. This is about using our good, old powers of observation to see something that's been happening right in front of us all our lives, only we've just never taken the time to notice. Prehistoric man's life depended upon it. And you'd be surprised at just how important an oversight it may be in your life once you start looking.

Our ability to observe and be conscious of our surroundings is directly proportional to the amount of control we claim over our existence. You can go through life with blinders on, living in a world of chaos where things just happen to you. Or you can bring order and personal responsibility into your world by paying attention to the bits and bytes of information streaming toward you at any given time. In short, you can see stuff coming long before it smacks you in the head.

The more conscious we become of our environment, the more informed we are. It's that simple. Whether you believe in God, angels, fate, science, the Universe or nothing at all, messages and clues are streaming in toward you all the time. Some of them are wrapped in beauty and wonder, while others are wrapped in red flags. But if you have your head down plowing through your day, you're going to miss them. And you'll have nobody to blame but yourself. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

3/2/12-3/4/12—Finding Another Way

Weekend Reading: Six of Swords from the Forest Folklore Tarot. The path to success is not always straight and clear. If you come up against a roadblock, find another way. Sometimes the obstacles in our path are blessings in disguise. They could be keeping us from walking into a situation much harder to get out of than the workaround we're currently faced with. When we view our roadblocks that way instead of as signs that we're doomed to fail, we keep our energy high and positive and tend to see the gift in every situation. If you simply can't go on anymore, then don't. But if you're just frustrated, suck it up and keep moving forward. The only way to truly fail is to give up too early.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3/1/12—Zeroing in on Judgment

Today's Draw: Judgment from the Spiral Spirit Tarot.  Is there an aspect of your life you can no longer deny or run away from? Is it time for a change? How do you read the Judgment card?
The Judgment Card has always been a challenging one to read for me. Yeah, yeah, it's about rebirth and transformation, but so is the Death card. And, sure, it's about a time of accountability, summing up and truth, but so is Justice. So I've always struggled with what to do with this card in a reading. It just doesn't speak to me in a unique voice. Or didn't. 

Each month I lead a tarot meetup where we spotlight a different card in each meeting. Every month as I put my notes together for this meetup, I learn something new. And the insight I got while researching this card makes all the difference in how I read it and it's unique position in the tarot. So I thought I'd share it with you. 

The card that comes before this in the tarot is the Sun. And the Sun shines so brightly that it illuminates our shadowy corners...the ones we even hide from ourselves. Our eyes are opened to an issue and we can no longer stay in the dark. We must change. Death and the Tower cards thrust change upon us. But the Judgment card brings change we choose.

One story I have that illustrates these distinctions belongs to someone I used to know. She was driving at twice the legal blood alcohol limit on a New Year's Eve maybe 25 years ago. She was on an unlit street and didn't see a bunch of teenage boys pushing an unlit car down the road...until it was too late. A boy lost his leg that night. And my friend lost life as she knew it.  

There's a lot of muddy area here, but I would argue that the boy had a Death card moment. One phase of his life died and another began. A line was drawn in the sand. He literally would never be the same. Many years later he contacted my friend and he said losing his leg saved his life, because he was on a downward spiral in his life at the time. Today he's a different man with a wife and family and career he may have never had otherwise.

I'd say my friend had a Tower moment—she was utterly shaken to the core and went to prison for a couple of years. Every aspect of her life fell to wayside, along with her freedom. Once she got out of prison, she rebuilt her life using what was left of foundation she'd had before...her values, ethics and her career.  

But her Judgment moment in all of this was when she realized she had a drinking problem that had to be fixed. This level of inebriation was not an isolated incident in her life. It took the accident to shine a light on a part of herself she had previously denied. And once that dark corner was lit, she made the changes she needed to make in her life. 

To the extent she was possessed by her alcohol issue, the accident wasn't her choice. Certainly not a conscious or "sober" choice. But quitting drinking was. That's the distinction with the Judgment card.

We've all had those moments in our lives, haven't we? Maybe you see someone at the mall berating their child and realize you're not so supportive yourself. Or maybe you go on vacation for two weeks and return to see with fresh eyes what a ratty gardener you are. Or maybe you find out you have halitosis and have had it for years. 

Although it sounds unpalatable, it's really not. Judgment moments lead to the healing of old wounds, the breaking of bad habits and the forgiveness of long-held grudges. Because it's a change of your choosing, you're taking a conscious hand in your own evolution. The illumination may come from the grace of a higher source, but the redemption is all on you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2/29/12—Bringing Everyday Life Into Harmony

Today's Draw: Four of Disks from the Mary-El Tarot by Marie White. Do you have unfinished details that hang over your head? Is there some issue in your life that everyone else seems to manage beautifully, but you just can't at this time? What are you letting go of—or need to let go of—in order to move forward on your path?

OK. First I have to say how excited I am to finally have this deck in my hot little hands. I've been watching the progress of this deck for years and it's gorgeous beyond gorgeous. Today's card, beautiful as it is, is one of the more plain cards in the deck. If you're viewing this on Facebook, links and additional pictures can be found at

The Mary-El takes a non-traditional approach to the tarot. The book says it borrows from all three major systems—the Tarot de Marseilles, Rider Waite and Thoth—and incorporates our own inner truths. The few cards I've chosen so far don't seem especially Waite-y or Thoth-y to me. I can't speak for TdM. In Waite, the Four of Disks would signify holding on too tight to resources. In the Thoth it's a card of power and stability. 

In the Mary-El's meaning, stability plays a large role, but with additional nuances to the the Thoth meaning. It speaks of the path of life and how we move through the cliffs of polarity, down into the abyss, through valleys and deserts, lush forests and ancient ruins, then up through the foothills to finally reach the pinnacle of our divinity and redemption. The card calls for us to take care of our physical life—body, home, environment—because settling what is outside will settle what is inside. 

Combining all of that with my own inner truths, I'll say I'm notorious for putting off until tomorrow what I can do today. Case in point: I only filed my 2010 taxes a few weeks ago (totally legally, by the way...haha). I had a shed that was basically a pile of metal that I kept alive for years with layers of tarps so I wouldn't have to fix it. I went without a dishwasher for an entire year because my old one broke. This is the way it goes for me. I'm great with a deadline and my job depends on me meeting them. But I suck at open-ended things that don't have to be done by a certain time. I am a highly capable and intelligent woman, but the stupidest things render me frozen and immobile. 

In the meantime, they hang over my head and eat away at me.  Everything eventually gets done. But even if I'm not thinking about it consciously, it's in there poking at me. When it finally gets done, I feel a great deal of relief. But the thing is, there's always something like that in my life and I should probably do a reading sometime to explore why. Could just be one of those extremely rare ways in which I'm not absolutely perfect. ;)

With me, it's about fixing stuff that's broken—things that don't have to be fixed TODAY. With you it might be paying off an old loan...relaxing your compulsion for being fastidious...dealing with a physical addiction...doing an errand you've been putting off...bringing the car in for inspection...anything where something outside of you is causing repercussions on the inside of you. Distracting your mind. Popping up in your head as you're falling asleep. Causing you to opt for denial. That's what I think about when the card talks about settling the outside to settle the inside. 

The older I get, the more balanced and content I become. And the more balanced and content I become, the more I see how it's not necessary to go down into the abyss and through valleys and deserts to get to a more peaceful and stable place. I still have stumbling blocks I'm working on, as we all do and will. I've still my issues with fixing things, but a lot of my other issues have fallen by the wayside. Today I have a clearer view of what matters in life. With that comes a better idea for the lay of the land. And the more we bring life into perspective, the more we find there are bridges and trams and such that can elevate us from where we are to where we want to be without all the twists and turns in between.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2/28/12—Contemplating Tradition

Today's Draw: Tradition (Hierophant) from the Ironwing Tarot. What value do you place on tradition? How do you see its role in modern society? And where do you fall on the spectrum between traditional ways and non-traditional ways?

The Ironwing is one of my most coveted decks. For one thing, it's not easy to come by. But for another, it's a pretty deep deck. But more often than not you have to read the book to even know what card you have in your hands, much less what suit. The Major Arcana cards have browns and rusts on them. All others are black and white. Beyond that, you're on your own. 

Turns out this is Major Arcana V, and corresponds to the traditional tarot meaning for the Hierophant. Not all the cards in this deck work that way. And it's funny I got the Tradition card today when a bunch of tarotists have been having a debate about traditional meanings and systems of tarot vs. non-traditional systems and intuitive interpretations. 

So here is a very non-traditional deck—it doesn't follow traditional suits, symbology or, entirely, meaning. All meanings and symbols are aligned with their relevance to iron works and forging, rather than normal esoteric symbology. Heck, it's hard to even know what card you have in your hand at any given time! In that way, it makes traditional interpretation less accessible. And, if you look at some of the other cards in the deck, you'll see it doesn't lend itself heavily to intuitive interpretation, either. At least not for me. I rely very heavily upon the book to help me with my interpretation and it's those nuances within the book that are often very profound for me.

So I happened to be guided to choose this odd animal on a day when folks are debating traditional vs. non-traditional systems and interpretations. And I, the eternal iconoclast, happen to choose the Tradition card! Go figure. But it's the perfect card!

The girl in the card is positioned at the door of the smithy, ready to enter or turn away. She has that choice. If she enters, she will learn a lot...information passed down through the ages. But the book cautions that the smithy can be a place of either guidance or oppression. Its traditions and resistance to change are both its strength and its weakness. So you'd better know who you are before you enter. Tradition can nurture efficient habits and teach arcane lore, but there is no place for original thought or interpretation. The book entry ends with saying the choice she makes (to either enter or turn away) is not important. What is important is that she makes the choice that is right for her. 

Outside of Death, how many of these cards can you positively identify?
I love the Ironwing. In a paragraph, this card encapsulated a debate that has been going on all day between a highly eclectic group of readers. But this isn't just about tarot. It's about many of the choices we make in our lives. At Thanksgiving, do we carry forth the traditions we had as a child or do we make new ones of our own? Do we color inside the lines, or add whole new worlds outside the lines the coloring book publishers didn't count on? Do we follow our church's interpretation of The Bible or do we have our own interpretation? We probably don't even realize how many choices we make between "the stated path" and off-roading each day.

Most people will probably say "I can do both". And they can. But if everyone said that, what would happen to tradition? And if no one said that, how would new ideas ever enter the consciousness? How would we ever evolve as a society? It's an interesting consideration when some are saying "tradition has everything I need" and others are saying "tradition is boring and stale". 

I think the traditional way holds some value, but not a whole lot. Just because it's been done a certain way for ages and works doesn't mean it's time to stop thinking. There may be better ways. Or more ergonomic ways for the individual. So I think everything should be tested by the individual before it's accepted. That said, I'm really into rigor and following "the way" when it comes to ceremony. So I'm going to say I'm maybe 20-25% traditional. How about you?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2/27/12—Feeling Flush

Today's Draw: Five of Pentacles from the Druidcraft Tarot. Do you suspect your thoughts may be defeating you? Do you generally come from a place of gratitude or lack? And would you rather have more money...or a greater feeling of wealth?

This is usually a card of poverty or material loss of some sort...loss of a job, a poorly planned shopping spree or the effects of divorce. Loss is part of the cycle of the building up and breaking down of things. It's usually a temporary state.

More often than not, however, when this card comes up in a reading it indicates a poverty mindset. This woman wears beautiful, clean robes. She sports a richly bejeweled sash. Her hair is well kept, her skin pristine. She stands at the base of a budding tree. The sun shines brightly on rich, green hillside. In the background a hound is in hot pursuit of a hare. There is no poverty or material loss in this picture...except in her mind.

Poverty mindsets can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter how much you earn or how much you have saved. A poverty mindset is more about focusing on what you don't have than what you do have. It causes you to dwell on thoughts of living in a tent on the edge of town. And once it has you in its grips, it can literally limit any possibility you have of having more.

If you extend the poverty mindset further, it can also include feeling like you don't have any friends or enough love. Given the time and opportunity, one loss, perceived or otherwise, will act like a cancer in your life, penetrating every corner. You literally think your way into depression. And the more you focus on loss, the more you lose.

In metaphysics, it's called the Law of Attraction. It's a theory based on the belief that like attracts like. The spiritual piece to this belief is that, whatever you focus on, God or the universe will give you more of. So whatever energies you send out, will be returned to you. Therefore, if you think "I have more than everything I need," the universe will send you MORE "more than everything you need". If you think, "I don't have enough money", the universe will send you MORE "not enough money". After all, if it's what you're focusing on, it must be what you want.

Of course, much of it can be attributed to simple psychology. If you practice gratitude, you'll feel more abundant because you'll be focusing on what you have, instead of what you don't have. Conversely, if you focus on what you don't have, you'll feel more lack. Then whatever state you focus on is the one you'll carry out into the world and the one the world will respond to. Would you rather hire someone who feels like a loser or a winner? So even if you don't believe in the spiritual piece, the theory works.

If you want to start putting this to work in your life, 1) begin by watching your thoughts and replacing the "negative" thoughts with positive ones. If you're not sure you're wording things correctly, put "I want more" in front of the thought. So if you want to exercise more and think "I need to exercise more", the universe will give you more reason to need to exercise. So a better way of saying it would be, at the very least, "I am exercising more" and, optimally, "I exercise the right amount for optimal physical and mental health." The important thing is to choose the statement you can most buy into and believe in.

Personally, I like to choose a thought that includes the word "feel"..."I feel healthy and fit", for example. Because, for me, it's not usually the "thing" that I want, but the feeling that comes along with it. And if you feel healthy and fit, you will protect that feeling by eating and doing the right things. For example, having a million dollars won't solve your "feeling like you don't have enough" issues and it comes with its own set of tax issues and long-lost-cousins-finding-you issues. But once you have the genuine FEELING of having more than enough, your worries are gone. And if you feel like you have more than enough, you probably do.

Then the next piece of this is 2) trust that it's going to happen. Don't obsess over your thought. State it once or twice a day, and then just trust that it will come to you. Then, 3) have gratitude for whatever comes. Daily gratitude for all you've received in your life—and learning to see the gifts you have—is important. Finally, 4) move toward your goal, even if it means just planning at first. But set a plan, send out those resumes, go for that walk, whatever.

Like I said, it's a discipline, so if you try it for three days, then fall back into old habits, it's not the principles that didn't work. It's you. If you really want change, you'll take the steps necessary to make it happen. And if you take the steps necessary, you'll be showing the universe you're serious about this and you'll begin to see results.