Friday, March 9, 2012

The Week of March 11—Getting Real

NOTE: Images removed from original post for copyright reasons. 

I wish I'd had my camera with me, because out on my back deck this morning I saw the weirdest, freakiest thing....

The animals were being animals. I'd even go so far as to say they were doing animal things. I know. Shocking. But it's true. The squirrels weren't playing with light sabers. Harvey, the cat next door, wasn't snuggling up with a parakeet. And the bunnies that live under my shed weren't rolling around in the grass with tiger cubs. Instead, the squirrels were chasing each other up and down the tree, Harvey was stalking the neighborhood for prey and the bunnies were hiding for dear life. 

I'm not saying heartwarming scenes between species don't happen. There are the famous dog and elephant friends. And there are plenty of other odd couples out there. One of my favorite memories of my dog, Kizzie, is when he jumped into the river, right into the middle of a bunch of geese. After everyone got over the shock, they all had a good laugh about it. It could have been an uglier scene, but everyone gave each other the benefit of the doubt before they resorted to violence of any sort. I have a similar story that occurred between my dog Passion and a deer. There are great messages of cooperation in these stories and I'm not saying it doesn't happen.

What I am saying, though, is this—many of these pictures that people pass around on Facebook and in mail are fake. They're photoshopped versions of reality and we're all just gullible enough to take it for granted that they're true. After all, it's nearly impossible to know whether or not a photo is for real these days. And that goes beyond animal friends, of course. We all know about the airbrushed photos of models and celebrities. Yet we still hold ourselves to those standards.

Then there are the "news" photos—fake photos masquerading as real. For example, how many people might have thought President Bush was really holding a book upside down?

While all this seems non-consequential and even humorous, there are lot of things going on under the surface. We know this from girls who starve themselves to match an ideal they see in a magazine—an ideal that is airbrushed, or took three hours in hair and makeup to achieve. Or we see all these wild animals play with domesticated animals and we make dangerous miscalculations about what is and is not acceptable in nature.

One of the most damaging examples of this kind of thing predates photography, however. Long before we could capture images, we were projecting false images of ourselves for the world to see. There's the woman who has it all. The couple that is perfectly happy. The son that can do no wrong. We peer into others' lives from the outside and wonder why we can't achieve what they have. Then we waste time trying to be something that simply does not exist. This kind of comparison—whether it's a photo or an image someone is projecting—erodes our confidence and stalls our own personal growth. 

From a dog performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a cat to the idyllic life going on next door, what's presented to us is rarely what is true. Part of it is a false image that's intentionally or subconsciously being put forth to steer us off course. And part of it is our projection on others—our own desire to believe these things can be possible...or, more likely, our own desire to believe there's something wrong with us that's so right with someone else.

So this week consider what is real and what is airbrushed reality. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Am I comparing myself or my relationship up to an image I can't possibly know the reality of?
  • Am I guilty of holding myself up to a liposuctioned, botoxed and airbrushed view of what beauty is?
  • Am I being less than honest with the image I put forth to the world—am I projecting the full story of who I am?
  • When I hide my true self from others, what am I really accomplishing?
  • And if people aren't seeing the reality of me, can I honestly expect that I'm seeing the reality of them?
The truth is that reality's not such a bad thing. We don't have to salve ourselves with a fantasy world where everyone gets along or where perfect love exists. The world where lions eat wildebeest and "perfect" couples argue teaches us so much more about who we are and where we can heal than the airbrushed reality does. And yes, reality includes many ugly things. But I'd rather know the truth than have it pounce on me from behind in the midst of an idealistic dream. 

And I'm not saying there's not room for fantasy in our world. There is. The occasional escape provides a valuable respite. But if we're on a path to personal and spiritual growth—as many who are reading this are—we're wasting what little time we have by building on a false foundation. We can learn a lot about fantasy and denial by holding on to false realities. But the only way we can truly know who we, be valued for who we are and grow from there is to drop the rose colored glasses, see beyond the airbrushing and have the courage to be who we truly are. Flaws and all.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

3/9/12-3/11/12—Falling in Love With Love

Weekend Reading: Knight of Cups from the Steampunk Tarot. The Knight of Cups is on a quest for love and romance. And she suggests you join her. So this weekend, get a babysitter and go out on a date with your mate. Make a romantic dinner. Buy yourself some flowers. Draw a bubble bath. Write a poem to someone or about something you love. Wear something sexy to bed. Even if you don't have mate, you can still get your sensual on. For those with partners, it will remind you of when you fell in love. And for those without, it will bring forth you of that side of yourself you only trot out for suitors. So what are you waiting for? Put on the Barry White and fall in love with love this weekend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

3/8/12—Being a Feather on the Breath of God

Today's Draw: Two of Pentacles from the Silenus Tarot. Is life feeling a little precarious right now? Do you trust that everything will turn out fine? When has the course of your life ever been anything other than right?

This card depicts Psyche with two cakes she uses to distract Cerberus so she can pass safely in and out of the underworld. Balance and control are needed if she wants to get by.

The thing that stood out most to me in this card is that darned demon reaching out toward her from the dark. Does everyone have that fear or is it me? That some sort of mutant something is under the steps, just waiting to grab your ankle as you walk down? 

So there Psyche is, where she's not supposed to be, hands full, with a three-headed dog catching her scent and a goblin reaching up to grab her ankles. How many times have you felt that you're flying by the seat of your pants? And how many times have you, somehow, emerged victorious and unscathed?

This card is traditionally drawn with a lemniscate (figure 8 or infinity sign) to suggest the infinite flow of energy in the universe...that there is always enough for us to be infinitely funded. Enough grace, enough love, enough guidance, enough healing and, because this is pentacles card after all, enough money. It it our doubt in this that makes us perceive—and receive—any lack. 

So ultimately, the Two of Pentacles comes down to trust—trust that you will keep all balls in the air (or cakes in the air) to accomplish your goals. And, if a ball drops, trust that it was all part of the divine plan.

At one level or another, this entire week has been about our connection with the divine source, whatever that is to you. On Monday we spoke about filling ourselves with gratitude, rather than with stuff. The only thing we really want...the only thing that really that connection to the all that is. And gratitude is one of the paths to get you there. On Tuesday we talked about keeping the energy flowing between ourselves and the universe. Yesterday we talked about how the divine connects with us through signs. And today it's about trust...trusting that since the universe has always been there for us in the past, it will be there for us again. 

If gratitude breeds connection, then trust is what breeds intimacy. It's another step—another pathway—toward the oneness we seek. And even as I write "we seek", I'm thinking, "that's silly. How can we seek something that's already there?" We're already one. We just keep forgetting it.

When things feel chaotic or precarious and we reach out for a hand from above, the hand is already there, guiding us through the cave, past the demon and the three-headed dog. Knowing that is trust. Faith. It's not as much a flow of energy as being the energy itself...being at one with source. Our mistake is ever thinking we're not. It's not something we can unplug from, but it is something we can distrust or ignore. But even then, we're still connected. We're never not.

A quote came to my attention right after I wrote yesterday's entry. I'm going to quote someone who's quoting it, because Lutheran Reverend (or Pastor? Priest?) Richard Bruxvoort Colligan quoted St. Hildegard best when he said: 
"Hildegard of Bingen said a faithful life means 'to be a feather on the breath of God.'
And what does a feather know about wind?
What does a kite have to understand in order to fly?
How much knowledge of meteorology does a sailboat need to feel the strength of full sails?"

We don't need to know or understand why things are happening the way they're happening. We just have to let ourselves be taken away by the breath of that which has always looked after us, whether you call it God or Allah or Yaweh or the Universe. As an illustration of how oddly life works, it took a tarot card based on polytheistic mythology interpreted by a metaphysical mystic to bring you this message from a Christian holy man quoting a saint today. And it's all good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3/7/12—Seeing the Signs

Today's Draw: Signs from the Rock and Roll Oracle. Are you waiting for a sign? Have you bothered to look around you? What are signs pointing to in your life?

Are you waiting for a sign to point you in the right direction? Maybe just a little nudge to tell you you're on the right path? Or that now is the time to make your move? That you're on the wrong track? Or that you're doing everything right?

This card suggests that the sign has already been given to you, but you just haven't noticed it yet. In fact, there is no shortage of signs us around us on a daily basis, pointing us toward everything from the lessons we need to learn to the experiences of our dreams. But we don't see them because we're too busy milling about with our heads in the sand. 

This has been a recurring theme over the past week. If it keeps showing up, that means somebody out there isn't listening. And I'm laying odds it's YOU! Yes, YOU! You heard me....

The only other option is that it's me. 

So what does a sign look like? Well, most of the time it looks like a well-timed coincidence. Rarely does it ever look like Jesus floating down from the heavens, surrounded in white light, speaking clearly in your ear with a choir of angels in the background. That part trips a lot of people up. The last thing most people are looking for is something common and everyday. But it's true. God usually tries subtlety first. 

I remember 15 years ago I was looking for a job and I just kept hitting up against walls. Some might interpret that as a sign of being forever stuck in the old job. But for me, it was a sign to look for another solution. I became a freelancer, then everything started flowing smoothly in my life. So sometimes things like roadblocks are GOOD signs. Another time, when I was buying my home, I actually did hear a voice in my ear. Most of the time, though, it's something much more subtle, like work will be slow and I'll think about a client, then hear from them later that day. That's just a little pat on the shoulder letting me know I'm being watched over and everything's going to be OK.

So now that you know what a sign looks like, have you seen one lately? Have you ignored one lately? If you ask for a sign and open your eyes today, chances are, the sign will come. And if you question it, well...don't. Trust that whatever comes is truly a sign. Then move in the direction of it. But continue to keep your eyes open, because sometimes signs lead you towards something just to get a little more information before they steer you away again.

The more you start seeing signs, the more often signs will come. We've all had the experience at one time or another of feeling steered by an invisible hand, right? We've also all had the experience of looking back after something bad has happened and seeing all the signs we've missed, haven't we? Signs are not an isolated incident. They come every day and point us toward targets both superficial and significant. Personally, I believe pretty much everything has meaning, but I know a lot of people can't agree with that. And that's OK. Just start paying attention anyway.  

As individuals, we usually have such small dreams for ourselves. But the universe thinks up the best stuff—stuff beyond our wildest dreams. The best is yet to come. Let the signs show you the way.

Monday, March 5, 2012

3/6/12—Letting Your Energy Flow

Today's Draw: The Four of Pentacles from the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell. What energy have you inadvertently cut the flow of in your life? What parts of yourself do you cling too tightly to, lest anyone ever see them? And how awesome am I that I already have a deck that's not even slated to be released until May?!?!

One of the world's tarot's goddesses is a woman named Barbara Moore. A quick glance at Amazon lists more than a dozen titles—from books to decks—bearing her name. Beyond that, she's the tarot acquisitions editor for Llewellyn, so whatever she doesn't create herself, she's instrumental in bringing to the world. And then there's at least one deck I know of she authored under a pen name. If you're a tarot reader and don't know who she is, check your bookshelves. 

So how AWESOME must I be to have, in my greedy little hands, her most recent and hotly anticipated deck and book—The Steampunk Tarot?!! This one is all Barbara. She directed the art and wrote book. If I'm not the only person outside her who has the complete kit, I'm one of the very few. I'm not even a reviewer! And she signed my book, too! Gah! No, wait....double gah!

Four of Swords, with a macabre twist.
*catching my breath, letting heartbeat return to normal* 

I would be remiss with all this fawning over the great Ms. Moore if I didn't mention that Babs is also a friend of mine and this was a very sweet and generous offering for my birthday week (the big day is Saturday). For a tarot person, it's like being friends with Oprah. :D


The Four of Pentacles is a card about holding on too tight to resources. The card shows a mechanical contraption that grabs and locks away every coin. A penny saved is a penny earned. Or is it? In the book, Barbara points out that too strict a diet with your resources stops the flow of energy. If that buck stops here and stays here, then how does the flow continue in the universe? Holding on too tightly can cause stagnation. And stagnation leads to rot.

We all want to feel safe and secure. Nobody's suggesting you don't save money. But holding on too tightly does two things: it sets up an energy of not having enough. If you focus on lack, the universe gives more of a feeling of lack. And it also cuts the flow of energy from moving through you to others, then back around to you again. You may accumulate more money. But what is your spirit losing in the process when you're counting every cent?

We've talked about poverty mentality just recently, so I'll move away from the whole money aspect and broaden the conversation to love, creativity, friendship and even God. Anything you hold on to too tightly, cuts off a flow and causes stagnation. We all know when we hold on too tightly to another person, they slip away. We've seen this.

The High Priestess
But the same is true about our ideas and ideals. Locking things inside of the curio cabinets within doesn't make them safer or stronger. They're more vulnerable because there's so much import placed around them...and so much energy of worry and fear of loss. While their hold over you strengthens, they weaken you if they never have the chance to come out and play and be tested in the real world. Even our beliefs need to come out for fresh air now and again to see if they're still viable. 

The parts of ourselves that we lock away from others—whether out of greed, spite or shame—are lost potential. They're areas ripe for growth and healing. And they don't just help us grow and heal when we trot them out, they help others, too. Plus they have the added benefit of facilitating intimacy and depth in relationships. 

Six of Swords
What happens when we routinely lock these things inside is that we become an automaton, like the clever bank in the card. Our monsters thrive in the dark, growing larger in our perception and increase their control over our lives, limiting our full expression. We like to stare and point at the Hoarders we see on the TV show. But it's no less soul sucking when we hoard the valuables within. It's just less visible. Those that appear most perfect are often the ones with the most toxic issues—and genuine gifts—locked within.

I think I've shared this analogy before, but I'll share it again. Picture everything outside you and everything within as a wet bar of soap in the shower. What happens when you hold on too tightly? What happens when you don't hold on tight enough? In both cases, the soap will slip from your hands. The key is to find that range of strength where your grasp is firm, yet fluid enough to keep the soap moving and doing its job.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

3/5/12—Making a Big Ball of Gratitude

Today's Draw: Seven of Cups from the Infinite Visions Tarot. Do you feel vaguely dissatisfied, even though there's nothing in particular going wrong? Do you find yourself looking outside yourself for things to make you happy? Are you happy with what you have?

This is always an interesting card to me. It's a card of being blessed with too many options and so, as a result, you're overwhelmed. Or you don't make a decision. Or maybe you're not jazzed by any of them. 

In a way, we're all always blessed with too many options. We tend to see things in black and white...this or that...but the truth is, there are almost always countless more options available to us. Maybe we can't see them. Maybe we're not thinking imaginatively enough. Maybe we don't want to see them. But they're there. 

When I see this particular Seven of Cups, however, it always conjures certain images in my head. To me, this woman's got everything she could ever want. She's got this amazing river vista. The sun is preparing a beautiful sunset for her. She's in a great dress, curled in a comfy chair. There are plenty of liquids to keep her hydrated. There's a footstool to help ensure her comfort. And about three nostrils away from her nose, there's a beautiful, fragrant lily in bloom. Yet she has her back turned to the beautiful view and looks bored, if not completely disenchanted. 

There are two things in particular I could talk about with the mood of this card. One is gratitude. She doesn't seem to be grateful for what she has. She's surrounded by riches but she's almost disdainful of it. The second thing it makes me think of is when you buy stuff and there's that rush from buying, but then when you get everything home, you realize it doesn't make you happy. Sure, there's that thrill from buying, but you're looking for happiness outside of yourself...where happiness can't be found. 

What it all really comes down to is the first point, however—a need for gratitude. I can't say enough about maintaining a regular practice of gratitude. Not only does gratitude gift you with total abundance from the universe (because the universe gives you more of what you focus on and if you focus on gratitude, you get more to be grateful for), but gratitude also helps you see really how much you have to be grateful for. 

It's like the snowball effect in that the more you're grateful, the more fulfilled you feel and more new gratitude rolls in. This one practice alone can entirely change your life. The idea is to find five things to be grateful for each day. So what are your five things today?

Mine are: 
  1. I taught a tarot class today and it went really well. 
  2. On the way home, I got a great idea for another class to teach. 
  3. I enjoyed nature and my back deck this morning over a wonderful cup of coffee. 
  4. My little girl, Magick Moonbeam, counts one thing more important than food, treats and walkies in her life—me. And she has no problem making that clear. 
  5. I have a sister visiting town next weekend and she wanted to swing by and see my brother, who is ill. Well they decided to theme the evening around my birthday. So I'll be spending my birthday with my family. And cake. :)