Friday, August 31, 2012

9/1/12—9/2/12—Being a Rube

Weekend Reading: Three of Bottles from the Sideshow Tarot. In the world of the sideshow they know how to spot a mark. A mark is someone who is gullible or easily taken advantage of. And a really good mark is one that just keeps coming back for more...someone who truly believes the shell game is a game of chance and it's only a matter of time before they win. But, see, the game is rigged. And the gamekeeper can't be trusted. So bear that in mind this weekend and try not to be a mark. Keep an eye out for someone in your world who is really good at social, emotional or other kinds of sleight of hand. The more innocent and well meaning you tell yourself they are, the bigger the mark you'll become. And when it's all over, you can cry about being taken advantage of by meanies all you want, but the real culprit in this game is your gullibility...or your need to be liked...or your convenient denial. Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission. So don't give them your permission....and don't give more than you're prepared to lose. Consider yourself warned. ;)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

8/31/12—Getting What You Want

Today's Draw: Eight of Flames from the Wormweird Tarot. Do ever you find yourself steering things to suit your purposes? Are you not beyond using emotion to get what you want? Do you hate it when others try to control you?

For the final day of Shadow Side Week, we have a voodoo doll impaled and bleeding in some sort of pagan-type ritual. My first thoughts with this card were "be careful what you wish for" or "use your powers for good." The book says this card is about using power and fear to get what you want. So manipulation comes to mind. 

Have you ever been asking a person a favor, having an argument with someone or engaging in some interaction where you become conscious that you're not being genuine? Or have you ever used drama for effect? Or even so much as feigned a laugh to get what you want? That's what this card is coming to us to point out today. 

It's interesting because the traditional meaning of this card would be more along the lines of "fast action"...but fast in a rapid sense, than in a "shameless" sense. The tie between the traditional meaning and the Wormweird's could be just that...using fast in the way you would talk about a fast woman. Or it could be thinking too quickly for your own good. 

A number of years back I decided to work on this side of me. A lot of the times when we do this stuff, we do it unconsciously. Maybe we realize afterward. But there are times we see ourselves doing it when we're doing it. I don't think there's a person alive who doesn't use our wiles from time to time. Some of call it "charm" or "magic" or "convincing" to make ourselves feel better about it. But what it really is is manipulation, control and disingenuousness. 

There's nothing wrong with informing another person about the benefits of something. But I'm more the kind that will tell you the pros and cons, risks and rewards before I ask for something. I manage expectations...haha. And what's really interesting about that is that I make a living off only showing only the positive benefits of something in order to get someone to buy. But I'm not so much that way in my private life. In fact, I frequently undersell myself to avoid overselling. That, in and of itself, is a shadow issue. 

Regardless, I still see myself being nicer to someone for one reason or another from time to time...or crying an extra tear for effect...or using anger or indignation in unfair ways.  Like I said, I've greatly improved on this. Truth is, I had a VERY dramatic mother and come from a family of drama queens. There are many flavors of drama...over the top, understated, quiet judgment, syrupy sweet, silent treatment, childlike tantrum, superiority, purposely not playing the game to show you don't play the game...haha. I'm sure there are more. All drama is done for affect the other person or people involved. So, anyway, the whole drama thing is very ingrained in me. 

So today's card alerts us to the shadow of being less than impeccable with our words and actions in order to control others. In fact, being impeccable with your words is one of the Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz wrote about. It's not just the words, but the intentions that lie beneath them. Everything we do comes with a consequence, whether we're aware of doing it or not. If you want people to be genuine with you, if you want to avoid being roped into things you don't want to do and if you want others to back off on being so controlling, it begins with cleaning up your own actions. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

8/30/12—Keeping a Safe Distance Away from Negativity

Today's Draw: Six of Swords from the Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot. Are you coming to realize you're a negative person? Or do you wonder why you seem to attract negative people? What payoff do you need to stop seeing to have a more balanced experience in this regard?

I admit that, in search of dark decks in my collection, I consulted a DarkDeckologist named J.r. He is known to covet dark decks like no other. And while it turns out that I have plenty of widely acknowledged, J.r.-endorsed "dark decks" to get us through Shadow Week and beyond, it occurred to me that I also had a couple less obvious choices that *I* consider dark, but that, say, Nosferatu would turn his nose at. Today's deck is one of them. 

Sure, the characters are cute. But here's what the lwb says: "The Lunatic of Negativity dances on top of his turret, he is in need of help. A neighbor is leaving this place of great danger, taking herself to more harmonious surroundings to find a solution to the problem." 

This card cracks me up. First, we all know a few Lunatics of Negativity. Second, look at all the cuts on the Lunatic (hard to see on this crappy pic) from wielding their words and thoughts (aka swords) too wildly. Third, the smile the Lunatic is wearing. And fourth, the way the neighbor is standing in the doorway with, to my eye, an expression of "how did I get roped in again, can I ignore this, and how can I keep it from happening again?"

So this card goes right to the essence of the shadow issues. One is a commentary on negative people. If you have a tendency to be negative, this card is saying that you're damaging yourself by doing it. That your words cut...not just you, but others. And that you are getting some sort of payoff from it that you need to explore. The Lunatic (haha...sorry) is smiling. There is a payoff or you wouldn't be doing it. Are you afraid of disappointment, so you always look to the losing side and that way you'll never be disappointed? Also notice the way negativity makes others need to be away from you. It drains not just your energy, but the energy of others. 

Many of us are negative from time to time. So even if you don't think you're "a negative person", consider the times you are negative and how you express yourself at those times. It's ok to express your feelings. The key is not to wallow in them. 

I would guess most of us have been the recipient of the negativity before. Like the poor little neighbor here. You really feel torn between helping and just walking away. Negative people are a terrible energy drain. When someone approaches me with negativity, I usually make a cursory comment like "I'm sure you'll figure it out" then move along. If it were someone I knew and it was a *moment* of negativity, I'd help them through it. But some people just want to suck you of your life force and nothing you can do or say will buck them up. Or they constantly need advice they will never follow. Or they're regularly in a bad place and, shelter, money. 

Or maybe they're not even negative or in need of advice or help...maybe they just like to absorb energy. I've had people like that in my life. They come around because you're a happy or positive person. They don't talk much. They're there just to....receive. You'll notice they never put any effort into anything, never return any kindnesses offered. They're not negative or anything. They're friendly. But they suck away your energy nonetheless. It's a really subtle thing to recognize. 

This exchange of energy is the smile on the Lunatic's face, you see. They like the energy exchange...they like getting your attention. And negativity, advice and receiving without giving is how they get it. But the catch is, it's not their fault. It's yours for repeatedly giving it to them out of a place of guilt or whatever. You need to explore why you continue to let it happen. What payoff do you get, because you do get one. 

When it comes down to it, you're not responsible for anyone's feelings or experiences other than your own. And nobody is responsible for your feelings and experiences. We can help each other through and should do so as humans...within reason. But no matter how badly you feel for someone, it's not your job to take their pain away. Again, I'm talking about habitual abusers here, not your best friend who's going through a tough time. The habitual ones are looking for someone to latch on to. And when you dump them, they'll find someone else. They always do. It doesn't have to be you. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

8/29/12—Examining Your Story

Today's Draw: The Seven of Holy Water from Robert Place's Vampire Tarot. What tempts you? How often do you make choices that you know are bad for you? Do you still find yourself making bad choices without realizing they're bad choices?

The Seven of Holy Water corresponds to the Seven of Cups. It's a card of choice. In traditional decks, each cup would be filled with a wonderful thing. And your job is to choose among all the options available to make a take a stand. 

But in this card, it's a little different. There are three doorways, only one of them leading to escape. Do you choose the one with all the money and see where it goes? Do you choose the one with the vampire...maybe he's guarding the exit? Or do you choose the third one?

Life is often like that, isn't it? Full of difficult choices. Heck, the empty doorway could be clearly marked "Exit" and we may still choose the one with the money. Or even the one that promises eternal life. Or maybe we think we can scoop up the money, be given eternal life and still make it out exit!

In one of the questions up top I asked if you still find yourself making bad choices without realizing they're bad choices. I asked that because it seems like there comes a time in our lives where we see the clues to a bad choice and can keep from choosing it. This, of course, isn't 100%. But we do get to a point where we know the earmarks of all the bad choices we've made in the past and we, nonetheless, make them again. We make them consciously. 

I feel like when I make bad choices these days I know when I'm doing it. I mean, I'm not blind to the fact that that piece of chocolate cake is not nutritionally equal to a sprig of broccoli or that smooth talking misunderstood playboy is going to turn out to be genuine and loyal. Obviously there's a shadow side issue at play when we knowingly make bad choices, even if we're only marginally conscious of it. We have to search ourselves and ask, "What story is this keeping me stuck in? And how is that story serving me?"

By story, I mean the stories we tell ourselves, like "I only ever meet the wrong men!" or "All the good men are taken!" or "But his smile was just so irresistible!" Your story can also point to a cycle or pattern. For example, one ex was a drunk, another a womanizer and another a workaholic. They're all different, right? No, they're all the same. They're all unavailable. So why do you keep going for unavailable men? And, more pointedly, what is unavailable about you that you only attract unavailable men?

Shadow Week ain't easy. Oprah once said she had a breakthrough about her weight issues when she realized they weren't about the potato chips. Whatever it is that's recurring in your life...whatever bad or limiting choices you're making, it's not about the potato chips. It's about something far beneath the chips. The good news is that, if you're making the bad choices consciously, you're way ahead of the people who are going through life blindly wondering why bad things always happen to them. 

Other shadow issues with a Seven of Cups might be an inability to make a decision for fear of making the wrong one. Or wanting/needing to have it all. Choosing and regretting. Or worrying you've made the wrong choice and so you take the choice you made for granted. Or not showing gratitude for the options you do have. The Seven of Cups doesn't offer the kind of choices you're meant to regret. It only offers cup after cup of enjoyment. Your job is to choose the ONE that works best for you and be happy with it. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

8/28/12—Turning the Shadow Upside Down

Today's Draw: The Hanged Man from the Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza. Do you have a tendency to put things off? Or do you respond so quickly that other opportunities don't have time to present themselves? What lurks on the shadow side of the man who sees life from a different perspective?

It's Day Two of Shadow Side Week and today we have the Hanged Man. Traditionally, the Hanged Man can be about taking a pause, making a voluntary sacrifice for a higher good or looking at something from a different perspective. But Patrick Valenza's definition of this card has a perfect shadow side meaning—"A citizen hangs suspended in limbo. He is apathetic and feels no urgent need to alter his situation."

Back in spring, I think, I commissioned one of my FBFs for a reading on two areas of my life in which I'd like to make progress. And her blunt reading to me was that I would have to apply myself to those things, or otherwise another year will pass without me doing something about it. At the time I read those words I thought "well, you don't know me very well missy!" Haha. And the truth is, six months later I still haven't made progress on those things and her words now haunt me every day. 

I admit it. My name is Tierney and I'm a procrastinator. And the reason I was put off by her reading was because she pegged me. And I knew it. This isn't the first year I've been meaning to get around to those two areas of my life. Unlike the Hanged Man, it's not because of apathy, necessarily. It's because my need/desire to change doesn't yet eclipse my desire to stay comfortably the same. And I'll also cop to a little fear of how those changes will change me. 

So that's one shadow side of the Hanged Man, but here are a few other suggestions. The sacrifice aspect could manifest as someone who martyrs themselves, continually sacrificing their needs for those around them. This perpetuates a victim role that pushes others away, leaving the person to wonder why, when they give so much of themselves, do so few people appreciate and respect them?

If the Hanged Man is seeing things from a different perspective, another shadow side might be someone who has closed their mind. Have you ever noticed how many people there are out there with closed minds, yet how few of them will ever admit to it? That's because their minds are closed to the possibility that their minds might be closed....haha. I was reading a political thread the other day where this guy was calling one of the candidates all sorts of unflattering names and spouting innuendo about them while glorifying the other candidate as flawless. Then in the next breath he said his mind was open about the election. If the other candidate could show even one redeeming quality, he'd be open to considering it. 

*eye roll*

And, just as taking too much time to move on your goals can be a shadow side to the Hanged Man, so can acting on impulse...never taking time to consider the consequences before speaking and acting. When we're afraid or angry, it's always a good idea to pause before reacting. Once let out in the ether, we can't take our words and actions back. I had a gentleman caller over here not that long ago and said something that gave me a case of the giggles I couldn't get rid of. My attitude was inadvertently hurtful and I never heard from the guy again. I can't really blame him. 

Another aspect of acting too quickly is the person who's so on top of their to-do list that they pounce on making a decision or dispatching a task so quickly that they don't give other options a chance to present themselves. Or maybe they're so quick to act that they don't fully understand what they're doing before they do it. These are the people who respond before you even finish your sentence, often missing the entire point of what you were going to say. And before you can explain it to them, they're on to something new. 

So does any of this sound like you? When you really look at it, what do you think is beneath your shadow behaviors?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

8/27/12—Greeting Your Shadow Side

Today's Draw: Three of Wands from the Bohemian Gothic. What fears stand between you and what you want? Are there projects in your life that you never seem to complete? If you're not ready to change your situation, are you ready to let go of the dream of making it different?

I was upstairs in my room trying to think of what this week's topic would be when one of the most spectacular decks known to all mankind caught my eye—The Bohemian Gothic Silver. Photos can't possibly capture this deck because parts of it are printed in silver ink that makes some of the images seem almost three-dimensional. But when you try to scan or photograph the silver aspect of it, it just seems like the colors are muted. (I found this image of the card online. I don't whether it came from the silver or the regular edition.) The effect is all in how the light and ink and eye interact. Long story short, however, I decided that this week is going to be Shadow Side Week and I'm going to use all my "dark" decks (which basically means gothic or vampire themed decks).

Our shadow sides are our darker sides...the sides we pretty up, deny, hide away or otherwise keep from view. The shadow side can include addictions, fetishes, angry thoughts, "dark" moods, etc. Or it can include beliefs and behaviors that hold us back or defeat us. The reason the shadow side is important to explore is because things will never change and we won't move forward if we keep sweeping it under the rug. As the saying goes, monsters live in the dark. The only way to defeat them and move past those barriers is to bring them out in the light. 

The Three of Wands is a card of planning ahead. A card of vision, hope and ambition. Here's this woman amidst all this darkness and decay, but she keeps her eyes forward, toward the future. No dark side here.

But if we were to look for a dark side in this card (and for the tarot peeps, I'm not talking about a reversal), it might be someone who is always planning and dreaming, but never takes practical steps toward a goal. Or someone who has too much anxiety to move past their fears toward their dreams. Someone, perhaps, who can't see past the gloom of their current situation to a brighter future. Someone who flies by the seat of their pants, never making a plan. Someone who has a lot of unfinished projects going on. Or someone who feels so trapped by their situation that all they have is daydreams and fantasies.

Lurking beneath any dark side situation, to one degree or another, is fear. Rather than look at that fear and acknowledge it, it's easier to just make excuses. "Oh, those are just dreams." "I'm so busy trying to keep my head above water that I can't move forward." "There's always time to pursue that dream." "The odds of me succeeding are unlikely, but it's nice to think about." "I can't start on X until I take care of Y."

That last one is similar to one I tend to use when I tell myself why I can't be working on such and such right now. I imagine a set of perfect conditions under which I can pursue something. For example, I don't have a man in my life. And I don't have a man in my life partly because I'm comfortable with the way things are. But part of me believes that any man I meet will mirror back to me what I feel and think about myself. So I would like to be in a position where I'm feeling really good about myself before I meet a man. I think it makes perfect sense. And it does.

But I also know that beneath that is a fear...a fear that I'll be disappointed. Or lose my equilibrium. Or lose my focus on other aspects of my life. Or become co-dependent. I haven't had nice, nurturing relationships in the past and, frankly, I'm not sure one exists out there for me. The story I tell myself is that when all the pros and cons are added up, I'm better off alone. After all, that's what my experience has been so far. I'm not really blaming it on anyone but myself. I'm in command of my equilibrium and happiness, not them. I'm afraid of losing who I am and what I enjoy of my life, and being set back emotionally and spiritually in the process because that's what I've done in the past. In that sense, I don't trust myself. 

Yet, on the other hand, I'm on a spiritual path that is a huge part of my life. And relationships of all kinds are essential to the learning path. Whereas many other people might need to work on their ability to be alone, it's the opposite for me. Being a hermit is safe and comfortable. Most people that know me think I'm an extrovert and comfortable with others. But it's a stretch for me. Doing some of the things I do...teaching classes and being social...that's hard for me. I can do one-on-one, but when it involves a crowd, I can feel very exposed and uncomfortable.

Another aspect of the Three of Wands is that you're on the verge of things coming together. This is the card of "ships coming in". So all your planning is about to pay off. But in some regards you can stay in that place of "just about to pay off" forever. Or at least tell yourself you're there. Before the actual payoff, though, you have to make that final leap that takes you from this card to the next where you've achieved something worth celebrating. You have to truly to commit to the direction and you have to be prepared to face either victory or failure. For some people, victory is as hard to face as failure is. 

So this all comes back around again to you. If there's something you want out there that you haven't been able to get, what fears hold you back from it? Why does your shadow side keep you on this side success? And if you're not willing to do anything about it, are you willing to let the dream go?