Friday, March 16, 2012

Week of 3/18/12—Letting In The Rain

A spring storm looms to the south. Along my path, patches of green begin to heal the brown scar left by winter. The rain marches in like cavalry, coming to the aid of the parched, stark earth....

The earth is coming alive again, as it does every spring. The maple tree out back started losing its red flower buds today. Next will come the whirlybirds, then the leaves. The fruit trees have already started to flower. Daffodils are in full bloom. And everywhere you look, green is creeping back in. It's as if all the energy stored up over winter is exploding in a rainbow palette. Between the spring storms and longer days, nature gathers all the fuel it takes to support that kind of growth.

We tend to think of the passing storms in our lives as bad patches that come to dredge up the pains that we've managed to render dormant within us. But like the spring rains that turn winter's browns to reds, yellows and greens, they actually come to heal us. It's two sides of the same coin, but an important distinction. 

Somewhere along the line, we learn to push our fears, worries and other pains down. Then when they burst forth in some sort of crisis—whether it's an argument between friends or the loss of a job—we just want the storm to pass so we can feel better again. We may ask "what did I do to deserve this?" or "why is this happening to me?", but we rarely ask, "what healing energy is at work within me right now?" or "what gift has this come to give me?"

It's hard when you're in the midst of something upsetting to stop and analyze it as a gift or a healing lesson. And the bigger the stakes, the more complex the issue—certainly when you lose someone you love, there's more going on than fears and lessons, though all of that is there, too. But the point is that these things can come to torture us periodically until we find a way to tuck them safely away again.  Or they can come, as they do in nature, to work alongside our brightest days in fueling the full flowering of ourselves. 

What I realized as I walked down that wooded path, quickening my pace to avoid the storm, is how the cycles of spring sun and rain serve to feed the growing canopy overhead. Right now, it's just a bunch of branches which won't shield me from the storm. But in a couple of months, the lighter rains won't touch me at all. 

We're the same way. Each time we use the resources offered by crisis as an opportunity to grow, we strengthen our canopy. The big storms will always touch us, but most of life's slings and arrows will be little more than humidity along our path. But if, instead, we only allow the sunlight to feed us and avoid getting our roots wet in the rains, our vitality will suffer. 

So if there's something you're challenged with now or if something pops up soon, ask yourself the following questions and write your answers down in a journal or on a computer. The reason I say this is because the act of writing these things downs opens up our subconscious minds all that much more and details begin occurring to us as we write. So here's what to explore:

  • What's at the root of the problem? Strip away the circumstances, move past the hurt and what is really going on inside? Chances are it's fear—fear of abandonment, loss, separation, failure, intimacy, rejection, death. What fear is at the root of your pain?
  • When have I felt this before? This probably isn't the first time you've experience fear of abandonment, for example. The circumstances might have been totally different, but there have probably been many examples, stretching back to childhood. Choose the earliest experience you can remember and sit with it for a moment. How does it feel? And what happened afterward? This exploration very well may point to the origin of the fear, helping you understand it better. In fact, this could be the moment you're re-living over and over again and just sending love and healing to that child with your imagination can go far in healing the adult.
  • Is this fear real? Now these questions aren't going to help if you're determined to feel sorry for yourself, but if you're game, turn your fear into a statement, such as "I'll always be alone" or "nobody understands me" or "I guess I'm just unlovable." Is that statement really true? What has believing it's true cost you in the past? How has believing it's true paid off for you in the past? What qualities or relationships in your life prove it's not true? And if you still believe it's true, are the consequences of continuing to believe it something you can accept? And if not, what can you do to change it? Are you ready to lay this belief down and move forward with your life?
In that last group of questions, two of the key ones are "what is the payoff?" and "can I accept the consequences of continuing to believe this?" It's important to realize we don't do anything that doesn't serve us, even if only in some sick, twisted way...haha. The payoff usually serves as a way to avoid some other inevitability or as some sort of duct-tape version of protection—far more vulnerable than the strong canopy we'd rather create. 

And it's also important to realize that allowing pain to live inside us has consequences. It acts as a toxin to our relationships, our bodies, our self esteem, etc. So if we're going to continue on this way, we have to accept personal responsibility for those consequences. The consequences are not something that happens to us or punishment by a harsh God, they're things we knowingly let happen to ourselves.

When we shed light on our fears, we usually end up seeing they're smaller and less powerful than we thought. In fact, these tapes we play in our heads about who we are and what we lack and why we're not good enough are almost always false. But we never take the time to question them. We just let them dance in our heads unchecked.

Of course, there are times in our lives when we need more help than we can give ourselves. I've struggled with depression off and on in my life. And I've had a crisis or two that I couldn't navigate on my own. The funny thing is, the things I've needed help with were small-time compared to some of the things I was able to manage on my own. So you never know what's going to hobble you. But if you're there, there's no shame in seeking help. Sometimes just having someone to tell it to releases a lot of your anxiety and stress. Besides, talking to a professional is far better than the consequences of not healing. 

Whether you're hearing a far off rumbling or are currently in the midst of a raging storm, give yourself the gift of letting it wash all the way down to your roots where it can do the most good. Life, like nature, heals and strengthens in cycles. Let that energy do its work and deliver everything you need to reach your full potential.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3/16/12-3/18/12—Letting Intuition Be Your Guide

Weekend Reading: The High Priestess from the Evolution of Becoming, a Photo-Based Tarot Journey by Michelle Kelly. Here, the High Priestess peers behind the veil of what is seen or perceived by humans and peers into the light of truth. Hers is a world of instinct and intuition, not of reason and thought. She doesn't question her ability to interact with spirit, nor does she question her worthiness. She just "knows". This weekend, she wants you to look beyond appearances by looking inside, to your inner knowing. We've all been in situations where everything looked on the up-and-up, but something inside told us to walk away. And we stayed anyway. This weekend, listen to that voice. 

And if you've been resonating with the messages we've been getting all week, let your intuition guide you there, too. We're so used to taking our cues from the people and events in our lives that's it's hard to even pinpoint and isolate the cues that come from within. But start listening anyway, even if you're not sure you're doing it right. Soon your path will be lighting up before you without even trying.

Today's card was chosen by the artist.
This beautiful Majors-only deck is still a work in progress and is currently in the funding phase at Kickstarter. You can fund this project, see more of the cards and secure a future copy of the deck here.

Michelle Kelly is a WV-based commercial photographer. You can view her portfolio here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3/15/12—Letting the Plan Find You

Today's Draw: The Fool from the Tarot of the Animal Lords. Are you the kind of person who likes to have everything planned and predictable? Are you looking for change, but don't where to start? And do you even know where you're going?

So I already know from some of the responses I've gotten this week that a number of people are "welcoming" changes in their lives, either by choice or circumstance. And the Fool comes to tell us how to do that. His message is simple—just start moving.

When I have to go someplace new, the first thing I do is Mapquest it. Then I'll print out a series of maps at various magnifications. Then, after studying the maps, I'll write my chosen set of directions on one of the pieces of paper. I'll staple all items into a packet that then gets placed in my purse, lest I forget. And when all of that is done, I'll enter the address into my GPS...haha. Overkill? Yes. My dad was a navigator in the Air Force, so the obsession is genetic. At least that's what I tell myself so I feel less pathetic. 

But that's not how the Fool operates. In fact, he can't operate that way. He doesn't even know where he's going! But one thing he knows for sure it that he will never get there if he doesn't get started immediately. So he just blindly goes and trusts that where he ends up will be where he's meant to be. And if he doesn't like that place, that's ok too. He doesn't have to stay.

There are times in our lives when we clearly know where we're going. So we devise a plan and start moving in our desired direction. Knowing what you want and having a goal seems to be the most "socially correct" way of getting to Point B. We're taught all our lives to be "goal-oriented" and a "go-getter". 

But the course of life doesn't always work that way. Thank god! Because when we're so focused on a certain goal, we're usually only considering a narrow set of possible outcomes. We've decided what we want our outcome to be and, therefore, work to achieve that and only that. But when we walk the path of The Fool, who knows what miracles might be lurking around the bend?

I've said it before and will say it again—the universe has a much bigger dream for you than you have for yourself. The go-getter will likely achieve the dream they have for themselves and little more. But it takes The Fool to be open enough to achieve the bigger dream that the universe has for them. So if you're currently in a situation where you know you need a change, but just don't know what it is, don't wait until you have a plan before you begin. Set out today, follow the wind and let the plan find you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3/14/12—Double-Helixing With The Guy Upstairs

Today's Draw: Balance from the Greenwood Tarot. What do you do to stay in balance? How connected do you feel to your higher source? What kind of a fingerprint do you think your relationship to God is leaving on the universe?

In the Greenwood, the Balance card equates to Temperance, but it's number 6 in the major arcana, instead of number 14. The Temperance card is all about balance, flow and even alchemy.

In the context of a week in which we've been talking about self discovery and personal responsibility, this card comes to tell us that balance is "absolutely necessary to free the inner self from the fears and self doubts that keep us spiritually deaf, dumb and blind. Once the natural state of balance is achieved, the plateau that will give you access to the higher self will be open before you." That was from the book.

So the fears we have and the things we deny and the stuff that keeps us from being real...these things not only block our power, potential and happiness, they also stand between us and our God. Makes sense. How can we connect to something greater than ourselves if we feel unworthy? If we approach that energy as a pauper or as any less than an integral part of the whole, we cheat ourselves of the connection we want and deserve. 

But that's not the best thing that caught my eye about this card. These two horses are entwined like DNA. And the magic of DNA is that every strand holds a complete volume of information on the whole. So while a particular strand might be working to color your eyes green, it still knows everything there is to know about about every cell in your body. It's got the chapter on how oily your skin will be and the chapter on your height and the chapter on whether or not your second toe will be longer than your big toe. 

Since the Greenwood tarot is a shamanic themed tarot, it's using that DNA as a euphemism for each living thing in the universe. Each of us, like strands of DNA, hold the entire book of knowledge about God and the universe within us. And I'd even go so far as to posit that our human strand is entwined with our God strand to form a complete molecule. At the very least in this scenario, it's entwined with our higher or soul self.

When we're in balance and genuinely connected to the higher source, we intrinsically know what's right. We know how to treat to treat the earth. We can move with the natural rhythms of life. And the DNA molecule made by our strand and the higher source is a molecule that heals and creates balance and beauty. When the two strands are out of sync or are broken, the molecule becomes damaged and can create toxins and pain.

And by "connected to the higher source", I'm not talking about what you've learned from others/scripture and, therefore, believe about the higher power. There's value in that, but I'm talking about direct, soul-to-soul connection. Connection such that you can feel and understand the loving intent behind all of creation, even if only for fleeting moments....but enough that you know nobody's life is an abomination in the eyes of a loving and forgiving God. Fear, hate and judgment—regardless of what you fear, who you hate, what's being judged and what you've always been told to think about it—do not create healthy molecules in my personal opinion.

Anyway, that's the sense I got from this card today. I've always seen me and the universe as intermingling energies. But I kind of like the thought of the entwined DNA strand that creates a certain fingerprint in the universe, don't you? It feels like there's more of a connection, partnership or co-creatorship than what I had previously imagined. Even though ultimately it's just a different way of saying the same thing, it's kind of beautiful and makes me want to co-create something more like the twinkle in an eye than a festering canker on the ass of society. :) 

What kind of a molecule would you like to co-create with the universe?

Monday, March 12, 2012

3/13/12—Weaving a New Frock

Today's Draw: The Wheel from the Wildwood Tarot. Are you ready for a change? Are you going to make it happen or would you prefer it happen to you? This week's readings are signaling something transformational on the horizon. Does that excite you or scare you?

The Wheel is the perfect companion to yesterday's card about personal responsibility and the discovery (or rediscovery) of new facets to your being. It also works well with our weekly reading about getting real about ourselves. The Wheel (also called The Wheel of Fortune) traditionally talks about the seasons or cycles in our lives. This particular Wheel, however, also speaks of how we weave our own destiny. It's not a wheel turned by the fates like other representations, it's a loom upon which we weave our own fate.

I believe we come down here for a purpose and with lessons to learn/challenges to face. But for the most part, we're writing and rewriting our story down here. Some achieve more than expected spiritually in a lifetime, some less. Some repeat the same lessons over and over, others get it on the first try. Some walk through life with personal power, others feel powerless. All of that is up to us. The circumstance or challenge we were born into wasn't up to us, but what we do with it is. 

At the same time I say that, I also believe I had knowledge of certain parts of my life as a small child that are only just now beginning to if they were always part of the plan, only I forgot. So I do think certain parts of our lives are inevitable and I believe we're also guided once we're down here. But ultimately we set the intentions and the paths to get there. And with each spin of the wheel we have an opportunity to start fresh, build on what we've achieved or have a re-do. 

That's what I like in conjunction with the last couple of readings—that if a new facet enters into our personality or we uncover one we didn't realize was there, there's no telling who we'll become from all the choices we make based on all the variables! It's always been a very exciting prospect for me. 

I think I may have told the story about how, when I was a kid, we moved every two years. And because I had a hard time making friends, I was generally unhappy at my unpopularity. But every two years I had a chance to reinvent myself. So while I lost all the traction I had gained while I was in one place (which sucked), there was always that magical air of it maybe being different the next place we went. 

Of course, it never quite was...haha. That was largely due to the fact that I never changed the things that might have stood between me and friendship. I was always overweight and teased. I was bossy. I was smart. I was somewhat introverted, sullen and angry. A little spoiled, too, I suppose. And, for my teen years at least, I had adult concerns and embodied the "unfairness" of all that. From 12-14, I was the family cook, so there was no playtime, and at 16 my mother got cancer and I was faced with the prospect of losing the parent who had raised me (my father worked a lot).

Anyway, after a while (and through a lot of conscious work), my feelings of powerlessness and victimhood turned to power and personal responsibility. I stopped blaming others for who I was and what I'd become and started making changes. I stopped coming from a standpoint of anger and self dislike and started realizing that my happiness was my own to claim. And, as time drew on, I stopped weaving false frocks in which to show myself to the world and started weaving ones more authentic to me.

I feel like I've been a bunch of different people as an adult, in the sense that I've healed a number of the things that drove my personality and the way I carried myself through the world at any given time. I'm not the same person I was three years ago, let alone five or ten. And while I think I'm pretty groovy now, I'm still excited at the prospect of some new facet coming to the fore. Even if it's a "lemon" facet, I know I'll make lemonade out it, because that's the person I've become.

There are so many theories on what life is about. But even if you believe it's all chaos and there's nothing before it and nothing after it, it's still a pretty cool gift that we get to be here and think about it. That we get to love our people and pets. Dream of possibilities. Pick ourselves up when we fail. Have wins. And learn from losses. 

The Wheel comes to tell us that if there's something we don't like about our lives, to change it. We have that power. Crap is going to happen either way, but the difference between those who feel powerless over it and those who claim their power over it is all in the jasmine and magnolias we get to smell along the way.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3/12/20—Meeting a New Facet of Self

Today's Draw: The Eight of Wands from the Mary El Tarot. Have you recently been reminded of a part of yourself you'd forgotten? Is there a new facet to your personality that is currently unfolding? Are you being honest with yourself about why you don't have the things you want in your life?

The Eight of Wands is usually about swift action or feeling impelled to do something NOW. But Marie White, the artist, has a totally different take on it. She says knowing yourself and achieving your highest potential requires knowing and accepting our shadow sides, as well, then learning to use them to our advantage. She talks about really being honest with ourselves as to who we drop the veils we hold up to the world and embrace the whole tamale. 

One of those kind of truths might be found in the kind of things that limit us in life. As long as we can point at something outside of us as the culprit—"I can't look for a job right now because the market is so bad", "I can't move forward with the project because Sue is gumming up the works" or "I can't write that book because my kids need me to sit and watch TV with them"—we don't have to be responsible. It's beyond our control. But that's not the truth, is it? 

The truth is, more than likely, you can't do those things because you're afraid of something. And one of the things you're afraid of is acknowledging that you DO have the power. Because then you'd be personally responsible for your actions. And the truth would be not that you "can't" do it, but that you "aren't willing to do it"...probably because you're afraid of failure. Or success. 

I know someone who claims great pain and frustration over not being able to purse a lifelong dream he has. This was marinating within him for a good 20 years of singlehood when he had all the time in the world to do something about it, but didn't. Then when he got married and had kids, he gained a new excuse—he can't take time away from his family to do it. Another excuse is that he needs someone with specialized skills to help him with it. And now that he's got all these great excuses, the need within him to achieve this thing is urgent.

Now, I have no doubt his family would support him in taking an evening or two a week in private to work on this. He's very charismatic, so I'm certain he could find the specialist he needs at a local university, possibly a master's student who might be thrilled to work on a project like this. But it's easier to blame these things as if they're out of his control. That way, he's not responsible. Life has dealt him a crappy hand. And, bonus, he gets to take his anger about that out on others—on his family for cheating him out of his dream, and on his friends for either wasting their spare time on things of little import and for not understanding the urgency that haunts him in regard to this. 

Because he won't look at himself or this situation honestly—from a place of personal responsibility and power—he's just an angry person who blames everyone but himself for not reaching his potential. And the toxins of fighting off the acceptance of himself and his truths course through his veins and impact everything around him. He's someone who, on the surface seems laid back, but who, beneath is always on the verge of exploding. It's interesting to note that his situation has the urgency of the traditional 8 of Wands meaning and the personal acceptance issues indicated by Marie White's meaning. 

Anyway, I didn't even mean to write about all that today, though it is a valuable thing for all of us to consider. What I really liked about Marie White's interpretation, though, is that she says a part of us that has long remained fallow or forgotten—or a side of us we don't even realize we have—is coming to the fore right now. For some reason, I'm really excited about that prospect. It's always fun to learn something new about someone you've shared every second of your life with.

While these things can be good or bad, what Marie's talking about is a moment when you realize you're a lot kinder and more compassionate than you thought. Or that a childhood enjoyment of sewing is still with you, even though you set the hobby aside for years. Or that, somehow, fudgsicles have become your favorite frozen confection without you—or ice cream—even realizing what was going on.

All three of those things have happened to me. Sometimes it seems just when you know yourself, you throw yourself a curve. And there it is—a new or long-forgotten dimension of you pops up and begs to be embraced and integrated into your known truths. Even if that side of you is a side that reminds you of your own buried angers or fears. 

Perhaps the greatest desire humans have is to be understood, loved and accepted for who we really are, warts and all. The only way that can ever happen is if we first give that love, understanding and acceptance to ourselves.