Friday, April 20, 2012

4/21/12-4/22/12—Making Way for Justice

Weekend Reading: Justice from the Black Fantasy Tarot. Justice asks us to bring our lives into balance, neglecting no aspect of ourselves to fuel another. Some may nurture their careers more than they nurture family. Others may acquire money at the cost of their spiritual integrit. Others may feed their body with food or alcohol and neglect feeding its need for exercise. You may be a world-class volunteer, but if you live a toxic life, Justice doesn't call it a wash. Justice makes you sick, but surrounds you with people who care. This weekend, look at your life as if each choice is judged individually, without regard to the big picture. What are you neglecting? Where are you behaving in a toxic way? Where are you out of balance? If you're like me, you know exactly where you need to make changes to avoid the sharp sting of Justice's sword.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

4/20/12—Glimpsing Into the Great Mystery

Today's Draw: Red-Breasted Birds from Nature. Do you think a deceased family member has ever come to you as an animal? Have you ever had (or thought you had) a visitation of some other sort from spirit? What's your story?

A couple of weeks ago I did an entry on how some animals will show themselves to us to bring a message. Each animal has a different energy associated with it, so when I see a deer, for example, I'll be reminded to be more gentle with myself. And the animal is usually making its presence known in an obvious way. You could drive yourself crazy thinking every time you see a squirrel it has some special meaning. Anyway, you can find these associations online or in books or you can determine them for yourself simply by asking yourself what you know and think about the animal. Like we know deer are gentle, for example.

There are other times you'll see a particular animal and sense it's more of a visitation from beyond rather than making you aware of the specific qualities of their breed. Lately my sisters have been seeing red-breasted birds—cardinals and robins. One sister sees cardinals when times are bad and they're her reassurance that things are going to turn out OK. The other sister has just recently had a robin make itself known to her by causing a ruckus around her house. The bird has calmed down now, but is still standing guard by her window. 

If you haven't read all my posts this week, one of them was about how my brother is nearing the end of his life. He has cancer. And birds are significant in our family, as they are in his life in a way. My grandmother on my mother's side was a huge bird enthusiast and kept them as pets. My mom enjoyed birds a great deal, too. My sister remembers her particularly liking "robin red-breasts". Her first home in this country was St. Louis and that's where she met my dad. And my brother was always a loyal St. Louis Cardinals fan. Plus Virginia was our home for so long and cardinals are the state bird. So, in particular, red-breasted birds have some meaning in our family. 

I haven't had significant interaction with a red-breasted bird lately, but one of the phenomena I think everyone in our family has experienced is the smell of cigar smoke coming from nowhere. My dad smoked cigars. And when you're in your smoke-free home, just you and your dogs, and a strong waft of cigar smoke comes through, you can't help but think of him. I also share an ice-cube dropping issue with one of my brothers. Every time we get ice from the freezer, one cube drops out and I attach meaning to that, though I'm sure exactly what.

Now, I'll admit I'm someone who finds meaning in many daily occurrences. And I try to keep some healthy skepticism because I know my tendencies. But I've had words spoken in my ear from invisible sources in the room. I've had ideas enter into my head out of nowhere. I've had things drop from cabinets at the very moment I'm thinking of someone who's passed. I've seen my dad's extremely rare MGB GT from the late 60s parked on a street in my neighborhood many days in a row, only to never see it again. I even spoke to the driver. His parents live around the corner from me and he lives in the next neighborhood over, so you'd think I'd see it more consistently, but I never saw that man or that car again after I talked to him. 

Our deceased people can show themselves to us in many ways...they might come in a dream, you may smell their perfume, you might hear an odd phrase they used to say, you could see something that reminds you of them, you could have a significant animal sighting you associate with them, weird things might disappear or move around your house, you might swear you see them driving down the road or you might see them stand right in front of you as they did when alive. The degree to which you think you're imagining it is up to you. My feeling is if you wonder if it could be a visitation, it probably is.

Most of the time they just want you to know they're ok, they're still around and they still think of you. It would make sense that we'd be having experiences right now because it's a hard time for all of us. I think our parents want us to know they'll be there to greet him when he passes over and they'll be there to comfort us once he's gone.

I suppose spirits get used to us denying their signs and ignoring their visits. They were probably guilty of the same doubt in their earthly incarnations. But wouldn't it be awful to think someone we loved and miss terribly was there all along and we never acknowledged them? That the very thing we prayed for came to pass and we were too stubborn or doubtful to accept it? 

I've had enough experiences in my life, both of my own and through mediums, to doubt anymore. There are great mysteries out there, the knowledge of which we may only discover after death. The way I see it, if I die and find out I'm wrong, it probably won't matter. But, for me, being alive is more magical and meaningful if I'm able to glimpse into a mystery much bigger than the pretty cool miracle of life itself. So my mother still visits my sisters, my father watches over us and my brother is going to land in their arms when he slips away from life. For me, life would be pretty lonely if I chose to believe anything less.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

4/19/12—Getting to the Truth

Today's Draw Classic*: Justice (Major Arcana VIII) from Tarot of the Sidhe. Do you know what is true? Can you attest to anything with absolute and universal certainty? What does it annoy you that people are always getting wrong?

Justice is a card of balance...of weighing options and finding that sweet spot in the center that is the sum of all things good and bad. Emily Carding, the creator of this deck, sees it as the all-seeing karmic law that none can escape. It is cosmic law and universal truth, balancing on the all-seeing, dispassionate eye of God.

As ego-driven humans we are certain we hold that truth. We know when someone is wrong. We see injustice. We're certain we know the truth. But do we? Do we ever?

We're constantly making judgments of right and wrong, as though our keen eye knows all. When we're with our partner, we know we love them. But after the relationship dissolves, we wonder if we ever really did. Was that love? 

When someone zooms into our spot in a parking lot, we know the bitch saw us and willfully stole our space. But how do we know she was even paying attention? How do we know she wasn't on automatic or in that zone we all go into where the outside world doesn't exist?

We say the sky is blue. To a color blind man, who knows? We say it's 4pm. Someone else's watch says 3:58. We're certain it's 2011, but what does that even mean? Tell a Buddhist it's 2011 years after Christ and it means nothing. We say our arm hurts and someone comes along and tells us we don't know pain. Pain is having your eyes gouged out by a crow...haha. So where is the truth in all that?

Emily Carding wrote a certain truth about this card she created. And I have my own...haha. That is the way of tarot. It can be perfectly spelled out by the creator of the deck, but each reader will always see what they want to want to see. And when I see this card tomorrow, I will see something different. The dancer balances perfectly between her conscious (the sun) and her subconscious (the moon). But she must constantly adjust that balance. And when we're talking the conscious, we can count on more stable "truths". But when the unconscious comes into play, all bets are off. So the truth is constantly shifting and is very unique to the individual...and may even be comprised of things the individual isn't aware of.

What I see in this card that wasn't intended (or at least didn't appear in the artist's notes) is that the eyes of sun and moon and the sharpness of the entire balancing image in the center, form the face of an owl. The face of wisdom. And wisdom is knowing that the "truth" is an individual and constantly shifting thing. It exists not in black and white, but in shades of gray. The only thing I can think of that defies this dynamic nature is unconditional love...truly unconditional love. 

It is the ego mind that thinks it knows the truth. But the only seer of the truth is the higher power. That's the only "one" with the omniscience to get the entire picture. For every truth you have, there is an individual who thinks and sees otherwise. And every time we press our truth with insistence, or vengeance or some other form of "certainty", we bear the karma of that false belief. So consider this as you go through your day and make your arguments and take your stands. Truth is one of the great illusions of life...a fleeting snapshot of the human inside us and not representative of the god within.

*Today's draw was adapted from an entry made on 4/25/11.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4/18/12—Scoring the Cherry Lifesaver

Today's Draw: The Nine of Pentacles from the Fishy Tarot. Are you proud of what you've built in your life? If you could change something, what would it be? What if you found out the secret to success, fulfillment and happiness was as simple as changing your vision of what they are?

The Nine of Pentacles is, first and foremost, a card about prosperity and expansion. But I often like to see it also as a card representing all you've built in the world. All YOU have built. When you move to the Ten, you can consider it more of what you've built along with your family or tribe. But this is all about you. 

And, when you think of it, it's all about you anyway. After all, you built the tribe or family that brings stability and security in the Ten, just as you brought the growth and abundance in the Nine. I think we never truly own our power and responsibility in the world until we realize that every choice we make—and don't make—goes into building what we have in this very moment. 

At this point people tend to ask, "what about the things that happen to you that you can't control? The layoffs, car accidents and muggings of life?" These aren't things you asked for, but they are things you have to answer for. And the choice comes in how you end up doing that. Whether or not you allow it to hold you back, spur you on or utterly defeat you. We've all seen stories of people who've suffered fates far greater than we'll ever know...disfiguring accidents, death camps, unspeakable abuse...and they still find purpose, passion, joy and love in their lives.

The thing that usually trips people up is thinking everything is black and white. Remember Five Flavor Lifesavers? If you were like me, you hoped beyond hope that the next one would be cherry. Because yummy Lifesavers were red and all the others colors were second-class flavors. 

Reality was that all the flavors were good except the HORRIFIC pineapple (have you EVER tasted a pineapple remotely flavored like that?). But there I was merely tolerating lemon, lime and orange in hopes that the next one would be cherry. My vision of what the best "next flavor" was was so unyielding and absolute that I cheated myself out of enjoying the other flavors. I CHOSE to disappoint myself 4 out of 5 times in every roll. In fact, had I been in advertising back then, that's the headline I would have written—"Disappointment in Every Roll." 

Ironically, I could have chosen to win the "Five Flavor challenge" every single time by buying a roll of Cherry Lifesavers. Or I could have had variety AND a surplus of cherry at the same time by getting two rolls. But it never occurred to me that I had way more options than I thought.

We do this more often than we realize in our lives. Our vision of what success, achievement, abundance, prosperity and happiness look like is so narrow and absolute that we cheat ourselves out of experiencing the multi-flavored goodness that life puts in front of us every day. If there is something you want to achieve and you hit up against a wall, I guarantee you there is another way. The road there and the final destination may not look the way you imagined, but if you want what you want, achievement can be as easy as changing the picture in your mind. 

You either choose to achieve the things you want in life or you don't. It's like that saying, "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" If you'd rather receive your happiness the "right" way—the way it appears in movies and books and other dramas that dance in your brain—then you choose the disappointments that come when it arrives in a different package. But if you choose to be happy regardless of how you get that way, chances are you'll get there faster, revisit more often and reside there longer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

4/17/12—Honoring Our Partnerships

Today's Draw: Two of Cups from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Is there any relationship more complex, annoying, supportive, surprising, loving, inescapable, comfortable and enduring than the one you share with your sibling?

The Two of Cups is usually about romantic partnership—love, union and connection. It doesn't always indicate romance, though. It can be any kind of partnership, both the kind you enter into into willingly and enthusiastically and the kind that are just byproducts of life. 

Forty-nine years ago, I entered into a partnership with five people. It wasn't a partnership of my choosing. At least not consciously. Sometimes it's been like an albatross around my neck. Sometimes it's been a privilege. Most of the time it vacillates between the two. Those people are my brothers and sisters and tonight might have been the last time I saw one of them in their earthly form. 

My brother John is the jock in the family. He played baseball, football and basketball throughout high school. He's six foot three inches of someone you don't want to mess with. And as tough as he's always been in his visage and demeanor, underneath he's always been a very vulnerable and sensitive soul. It wasn't always easy to see or access, but it was there.

Growing up I thought he'd have a hard time finding anyone who would be able to put up with him. But what ended up happening is that he married his perfect match. He has four kids who, quite rightly, worship him. And the machismo that I once thought might be his undoing, faded away into a man who wasn't afraid to let you see his weakness. And that weakness was his family. It was also his strength. 

One of the things that really made me look at my brother see him as something other than the annoying jock who walked around like he owned the place...was many years back when he lost his professional job in software sales. He wasn't able to find another job readily and I doubted his ego could withstanding having a wife as the breadwinner. But you know what he did? He became the house dad and he thrived in the role of nurturer and "homemaker". And when found another job, he found one that allowed him to continue being there for his kids. He gave to his children what his own father wasn't capable of giving...presence. Attention. Nurturing. 

Last November he came down with a really bad "chest cold" that he just couldn't seem to shake. It got worse and worse until he ended up in the hospital nearly drowning in his own fluids. Turns out he had lung cancer. He's done all the things you do...chemo, radiation, etc. But he has a very aggressive and incurable type of lung cancer. There's no telling how much time he has left. But the way he looked tonight in the intensive care unit at the hospital, it didn't look like it was going to be long. In fact, in the pain and presence of mind he was in, I pray it isn't long.

We enter into these partnerships with our siblings and the agreement is that we'll always love each other, even if we hate each other. We'll always be bound by blood and parentage and a string of memories we will never share with anyone else—memories from a time when we were too full of life to ever think of death. We're never ready for the day when those partnerships begin dissolving...or transforming into something less tangible. 

My siblings and I lost our parents young. My mother died when I was 21 and my father when I was 25. We're no strangers to loss. But you grow up knowing your parents will die someday. For some reason, you never think your siblings will die someday, too. One of us has to watch this happen five times. Is that a blessing or a curse?  

My brother John is 53. He has four children, including a young man he'll never get to see play high school football the way his father watched him play. I'm not sure what breaks my heart the most, but I'm pretty sure it's that. I do know he'll be there. The smell of cigarette smoke...or farts...will waft up suddenly in the stands for no apparent reason. And that will be how we'll know he's there. 

We make these partnerships for a lifetime. But they really never end, do they? They go on beyond anything we imagine. My belief tells me this is true, but the human part of me is heartbroken tonight over the inevitability of what's to come, whether it's days or weeks from now. What a blessing, though, that nothing has gone unspoken, and that no part of the partnership has been left unfulfilled.

Please hold my brother, his wife and their four children in your prayers over the coming days and weeks in hopes they may find peace and strength in their transition. Thank you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

4/16/12—Checking Out Of Life

Today's Draw Classic*: Four of Cups from the Infinite Visions Tarot. Do you ever feel a need to just check out of life? How do you do it? Why do you do it?

Usually when I pull these cards, I do it with the intention of what is going to help the most people who read these essays. Sometimes they're relevant to my life, sometimes not. And, on rare occasions, they feel like they're totally for me. Which is the case with the Four of Cups.
The Four of Cups is about apathy and boredom. And it can frequently be self-induced. I've been really apathetic the past couple of days. Maybe it's the time of the year. Maybe it's other things, but I've been indulging a bit of apathy. And I say "indulging" because I know I'm letting myself feel this way, as opposed to it being chemical or out of my control. The question is why. So I asked my deck. 

The answer I received was that sometimes there's just too much input coming from too many directions that you feel a need to shut down. And I would say that's the case for me. When I look back over the past month or so, there's just been a lot going on in my head concerning my career and my life. And I just needed to drop out of all the noise and weight of that. 

Sometimes the best way to deal with too many choices and considerations is just to walk away for a day or two and recalibrate your perspective. Maybe you take the day off and work in the garden. Or go fishing. Or, like me, totally check out. I had actually said to myself that I needed a sick day—more than a day off, but a day of no thought or action. And I woke up with really bad vertigo and had no choice but to remain horizontal, immobile and unconscious all day. Though the vertigo was real to the point of being sick to my stomach, I see how I totally manifested it. On some level I knew I had to be knocked out like that to get the "blankness" I needed.

Tomorrow I'll be back to being responsible and engaged in my life. And, having cleared the landscape in my head, I'll hopefully have a better view of my Queendom and can act on some of the decisions I need to make. Do you ever do this? And how do you spend your check-out time?

*This entry is a reprint of one done on 11/16/11. As I read it over again, I realize I've just been through this again. And I had recently done a reading on myself to determine what was at the root of the apathy and hermitness and the answer I got this time around is that it's the sort of discombobulation that comes when you're transitioning to a higher vibration or a new level of yourself. I kind of liken it to exiting the atmosphere. We soar within earth's atmosphere. And we soar in outer space. But to get from here to there, you have go through turbulence to break through the atmosphere. So if you're feeling unfocused and bleh lately, consider that as well.