Friday, March 30, 2012

3/31/12-4/1/12—Backing It Up

Weekend Reading: Two of Pentacles form the Hexen 2.0. The internet is a wonderful thing. How did we ever live without it? And while we're all pretty aware that stuff we put on Facebook or Twitter can be seen by authorities, retrieved from archives, viewed by potential employers and held against us in a court of law, keep in mind that EVERYTHING you do online has the potential to be seen at anytime by eyes other than your own. Your ISP knows and sees all. Google knows your searches based on your IP. Anything you do on a secure website is known by the owner. And anything that happens in the cloud in the cloud, stays in the cloud. And it's a VERY big cloud. Not to get your paranoia up, just stating facts. Someone else owns every site you hit, every mailbox receptacle you use and every engine you search. And you leave a fingerprint everywhere you go. More and more, people are realizing the things they erase from the internet, really aren't erased. So just balance your adventures with some common sense. And, while you're at it, make sure all the data you back up into the cloud is mirrored in some backup elsewhere, just in case everything go boom. With so many of your service providers operating in the ether, it never hurts to have all your bases covered.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/30/12—Feeling The Pain

Today's Draw: Six of Pentacles from the Hexen 2.0. Have you ever spent two hours working on a brilliant composition about making tough decisions and being the guy who created the atomic bomb, only to have your blog site eat it?

I have. So, instead, today's entry is about how, no matter how disappointed you are by this, I am more disappointed. Gah! It was really good, too. But it would take more energy than I have left to re-create it. I'll circle back around with another card from the Hexen tomorrow.

But I'll leave you with the moral. Sometimes we have to choose between duty and our heart. Sometimes we have to make decisions where, no matter what we choose, people will get hurt. Consider your choices carefully, then make your decision without regrets. There will always be consequences you can't anticipate. Live without regrets. 

And if you don't know who Robert Oppenheimer was, he created the nuclear bomb out of duty to our country and a love of physics. He was also responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people and creating a weapon so serious, it hasn't been used since. Upon first seeing it explode in tests, two divergent quotes from the Bhagavad Gita came to his mind: 

"If the radiance of a thousands suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one." 


"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3/29/12—Setting Your Own Personal Default

Today's Draw Classic*: Seeker of Fire (Page of Swords) from the Shapeshifter Tarot by Lisa Hunt. Would you generally call yourself a diplomatic person? Do you tend to be diplomatic in your actions and words, but not in your thoughts? If diplomacy and discretion are society's defaults, what are your personal defaults?

The book for this deck speaks of messages and diplomacy when you get the Seeker of Fire. 

Recently I've been thinking a lot about things like diplomacy and discretion. I think if you look around your life, you might not realize all the times in a day or week you are limited in what you can say or do for the sake of diplomacy or discretion. 

In writing this blog, I frequently subject myself to that. Certainly I don't want to use peoples' names in a public place without their permission. Then there are situations where I'll talk about something, but hold back a lot of details so the situation or person can't be easily identified. Then there are the times you just can't discuss an issue at all, whether it's because you know someone involved will read it or because it's just too hot button to be diplomatic about.

Then there's work. How many times a day do you keep yourself from saying or doing something too personal or too crass at work....or from telling someone off? You stop in the store on the way home and run into a neighbor and the niceties come out, even though their dog is always peeing on your grass. You go home and keep from saying something because your partner has had a hard day.

Then there are those situations where you find yourself between friends, both sides wanting you to take up their cause. One side thinks the diplomatic thing for you to do would be to choose their side. Because they're in the right. The other side thinks the same. So you can't win. And if you choose both sides...or if you choose're really screwed. So you choose whatever you feel is right, because you can't win for losing. 

After a while with all this jockeying around to be diplomatic and whatnot, we lose touch with what's genuine to us, though. We become socially trained automatons. Even outspoken people with no filter will find themselves saying or doing the socially acceptable thing from time to time. And there's good reason for a lot of it. It's how we get by in a civil society. 

I think it's worth considering what's really beneath your choices, though. Because when we're in those situations where diplomacy isn't going to do us any favors, we should be able to know what's really driving our decisions—a socially trained desire to not create waves or something that is truly genuine to ourselves. It sounds very simple. but if you really explore, you may find that it's really hard to separate the programmed part of you from the "you" part of you. One way to tell the difference is, do your thoughts mirror your words and actions? If not, it may not be genuine to you.

But what about those situations that weren't in the guidebook? Or the ones we're not prepared to encounter? Like the time I was briefly stuck in an elevator with a dude with Tourettes who was trying to chat me up about the "n-word people" he worked with. Or when the neighborhood meth addicts stopped by to borrow my phone and ask if they could siphon a gallon of gas from my car. That's when having a personal default comes in handy.

In the past year or so, I've been using a personal default of kindness, drama avoidance and quietly walking away from situations that don't serve me. I find this covers most situations and it's not always the diplomatic or popular thing to do. Especially in the midst of a drama, because it doesn't preclude saying no and detaching from the situation. It's not always easy to follow, and my thoughts are still catching up to my words and actions. I'm still limiting what I might say or do, but I'm doing it for my own personal growth and aligning with the spiritual path I'm on, not because of any societal agenda. I'm not 100%, but I'm doing pretty well, considering my old personal default was loudly telling people off and using the "f" word a lot. That covered most situations, too. :D

So what's your default? You could consider it a personal code or philosophy of dealing with others. Have you ever considered this before? And if you have, how consistent are you with it? Is is something you just say or use when it's convenient? Or is something you stick to, even if it pisses other people off?

*Today's entry is a reprise of the one posted on 2/15/12.  In the context of this week's readings, not speaking your mind is another way of resisting the natural flow, limiting the expression of your divine self. It bears comment, however, to say that, if we're going to express ourselves, to do so in the way we would like the same message delivered to us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3/28/12—Bringing Shadows to Light

Today's Draw: The Moon from Infinite Visions. What thoughts slowly and persistently haunt your mind? And how do they limit the way you live? What is it time to shine the moon's light upon in your life?

Yesterday we talked about different ways we resist the flow of what the universe brings to us. We resist when we're unhappy with what we're given. We resist when we can't find reverence in everyday things. And The Moon comes to tell us that we also resist when we keep parts of ourselves and our lives in the darkness. 

Often times we carry around questions or worries we don't have the answers to. And we tend to create monsters in place of those answers. An example might be putting off our annual mammograms. The longer we put them off, the more monsters we build in our heads. What if cancer is growing inside of me right now? What if it's too late? What if I have to have a mastectomy? These fears cause further resistance and further fears to the point that the last thing you consider is that the mammogram could actually say you don't have cancer. 

Further, this darkness spills into other areas of your life. Because you don't know how healthy you are, you might be making inappropriate choices. So the reach of your fear widens. And those inappropriate choices may lead to to other things. For example, the weight of your fear could cause you overeat out of nervousness. Then that could lead to insecurity about the way you look, which could lead to isolating yourself socially. 

My god, this is starting to sound like me! Haha. I'm actually good about the mammogram thing. But I do have issues around weight that create issues elsewhere in my life. But you don't even have to think that big to find something. It could be as easy as worrying when you're driving because you know you need new tires. And that could cause you to be more nervous on the road. Etc. and so on.
Whether it's the end of a relationship, a health issue, a change you need to make or something more mundane, we tend to be more comfortable pushing the answers into the dark. Which makes no sense because the only certainty that exists is when you bring these things into the light. 

And the crazy thing about all of this is that we NEVER ask ourselves, "what if I DON'T have cancer?" What then? What kind of stuff would we do if our heads were free of all the heaviness and yuk? What would our lives be like if we imagined the best, rather than imagining the worst?

This is what The Moon card has come to teach us today. To look at these worries, fears and concerns that limit us and consider replacing at least one of our worst case scenarios with a best case scenario. To turn our fears around. To know we can handle any eventuality with grace. To be the person we are, regardless.

Because here's the thing. If the worst case scenario comes to pass, you'll have to deal with it anyway. You'll cry over it and learn from it. But why waste time suffering it before it gets here, especially when there's no guarantee it will ever arrive? We're wasting time we could be spending living our lives and basking in the peace and contentment that comes from an un-haunted mind. It's time to shine the moon's gentle light on those fears, pull them from out of the shadows and deal with them, come what may.

Monday, March 26, 2012

3/27/12—Moving Toward Mysticism

Today's Draw: Eight of Rainbows from the Osho Zen—Ordinariness. What actions bring you into union with the divine? What activities do you tend to do with reverence or ritual? Is union with the soul of God something you intentionally seek, something that happens when it happens, or something you don't think about at all?

The Osho Zen is one of my favorite decks. It's a non-traditional deck based on the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, aka Osho, an Indian mystic. I really resonate with Eastern spirituality. My mother was born in India and, when she was two, Ghandi came through her village and blessed her. 

Although she was raised Roman Catholic, her heart wasn't there. Instead of a bible, she kept the Rubaiyat in her bedside table. It's a collection of poems by Sufi mystic Omar Khayyam. Depending on the translation, some call them devotional poems, others see them as atheistic. She died before I ever thought to ask her, but I tend to think she veered more toward spirituality and mysticism than religion. I don't think she ever made it an official journey, but I sometimes feel I inherited her path. It wasn't until after she died that I ever thought of stuff like this. 

Mystics are on a path to unite with the higher power through self surrender and contemplation and, thereby, gain greater enlightenment. It's more of a spiritual path than a religious path. I see religion as divine knowledge that is brought to you by sources outside of yourself and spirituality as divine knowledge that comes from a personal relationship with source. Mysticism is beyond a's a direct union with source. 

This card is one of those paths to divine union. It speaks of total immersion in even the most mundane of tasks—cleaning the house, tending garden, chopping wood. When we do that, we lose ourselves and find ease and joy in the moment. We transcend mind and ego and. Just. Are. 

In those moments, I leave this earth and become part of the all. And I'm not talking about cleaning the house while kicking and screaming the whole way. I'm talking about being in the zone, losing all thought and losing time. I get that way when I'm writing. And I also get that way when I'm tending my container garden. 

Writing and container gardening (I make that distinction because, oddly, I dislike working in regular gardens) are things that automatically take me there. But then there are actions I perform with reverence that also take me away. One of those things is preparing ceremonies. I make the incense, anoint things with oil and carefully plan every step of the process. And then there are intentional paths to union with the divine, such as meditation.

This card asks us all to find the joy and beauty in the ordinary things of life. It really is a choice, you know. Just like with yesterday's card about wanting what you have, bringing reverence into ordinary tasks can make them extraordinary. Both are paths to God and if you don't believe there is a God, both are paths to happiness. Because both are about letting go...about stopping the fight. 

When we're never satisfied with what we have, we're resisting. When we hate what we're doing, we're resisting. When we accept and allow, we fall into the flow. This doesn't mean accepting or putting up with things that are unhealthy in your life. You know the things in life that you're holding on to and resisting against. They're the things that bring you pain. When letting go brings relief, that's the accepting and allowing I'm talking about. 

So consider the things that bring you pain or resistance. What can you let go of? And what in your life can you bring reverence to? What can you do today that brings you together with God?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

3/26/12—Loving the One You're With

Today's Draw: Nine of Cups from the Mary-El Tarot. If a friend gave you a gift, would you thank them or complain about how it's the wrong size, wrong color and not what you asked for? How do you receive the gifts the universe bestows on you every day...with gratitude or with frustration, insisting it's not what you asked for? How are you treating the magic that is happening right now in your life?

Traditionally this card is known as the "wish card", a card where all your wishes can or have come true. But Marie White approaches this from a different direction, asking you to accept where and who you are right now with love and gratitude. It's really just two sides of the same coin.

It's kind of like that song, "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." You can spend a lifetime hoping for some sort of magic to come into your life when all your wishes will be granted. Or you can see this moment—and all your moments—as magic. You can see how this moment is the one you created, the one you wanted. And if you're not liking it, you can want something different (and think/behave like you want something different). 

I mean, look at this dude. It's like he's connected to the universe by some cosmic umbilical cord. Peace and happiness are his birthright. All he has to do is just trust and receive. But thinking it's all going to be sunshine and unicorns is, frankly, immature. If you ask for a new job and then do little to find one, the universe may have to kick you in the arse and make your current job miserable to motivate you. In that way, misery in your job is exactly what you asked for—and need—to get the thing you want. 

Get it? Sometimes, but not all the times, getting what you want comes with a dose of what you don't in order to screech your momentum to a halt and get you going in a new direction. So that thing that looks like you're not getting what you asked for may be necessary in order to get it. And if you're not grateful for it or ask for it to stop, the universe may think you don't what what you asked for anymore.

I can't count the number of times in a week that my thoughts will spontaneously manifest something for me. The following things all happened on Thursday and Friday last week. I'm driving during morning rush with no coffee in my system thinking morning drivers are insane. Then I nearly sideswipe a poor woman and, a few minutes later, another woman nearly plows into me. I MADE the crazy. On the positive side, I had a Billy Joel song in my head the other day, walked into Starbucks and one of his songs was playing in the store. I was thinking about someone I don't hear from very often and they emailed me. I wondered how I was going to pay for my dog's surgery and the money came. This is just two days last week and only what I remember happening off the top of my head.

This stuff happens ALL the time and we don't notice it or we don't acknowledge it. There are people that this happens to that nonetheless walk through life with their heads down wondering why great stuff never happens to them. For one thing, their belief that great stuff doesn't happen for them makes it so that great stuff doesn't happen to them. And for another thing, the few things they allow to creep in through the cracks aren't acknowledged or given gratitude for. If you wonder why magic doesn't happen in your life, it's because you wonder why magic doesn't happen in your life. It's that simple.

So this moment is magic in motion. Even if you can't see it yet. My world isn't quite an ecstatic dance through a field of wildflowers right now. Looking at the work I know is coming in, I'm going to be very busy at work for a number of weeks. My athletic baby boy dog just had surgery and needs to stay inactive for a couple of months. My brother has a terminal disease. And, disappointingly, some people I considered friends have all but disappeared from my life. 

But magic is all around me. Being busy at work means money is coming in and I'll be feeling productive. My dog's injury happened at a time in his life when he's still young enough to heal effectively and, in a few months, he'll be stronger than ever. I'm not going to claim there's anything good about my brother's illness, but it has improved our relationship. And everything else is lessons that will lead to better things in the future. 

When you feel blessed and trust that everything happens for a divine reason, you are and it does. In that way we literally create our own realities. So think about how you feel about your life right now. What are you creating? And if you don't like it, what can you do to turn it around? Are you ready to start noticing the magic that happens every day in your life?