Friday, September 14, 2012

9/15/12-9/16/12—Finding Your Voice

Weekend Reading: Ace of Feathers (Swords) from the Collective Tarot. Somewhere, sometime over the course of this weekend, something is either going to spark you to speak up, or you'll finally find your voice about something. The Ace of Feathers says you should go ahead and comment. Your opinions, experiences, boundaries and beliefs are important. Don't be shy to voice them. Trust that the words will come out the way they need to in order to get your message across. If the person you're talking to doesn't appreciate your truth, assuming you've been respectful in delivering it, then you may want to note their response. You have a unique voice to add to the conversation and it deserves to be heard.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/14/12—Choosing the Consequence

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Do you tend to hold emotions and frustrations inside until you ultimately burst? Or do you find that you dispense your emotions as they come? What is your emotional style?

So it's the final day of the One Card Challenge. Today's interpretation comes from something I saw in the card as I looked at it again this morning. 

She's got stormy skies, rough water and dangerous rocks behind her. So we can interpret that as meaning that the worst is behind her. But we could also see it the opposite way. To me, she looks like she's about to fall backward, like in one of trust tests they do at corporate know, where you fall back into the waiting arms of others? 

I have a love/hate relationship with my emotions. Sometimes it feels good to just feel and let your emotions out. Other times, it can be scary. Emotions can be a gateway to depression and wallowing for me. Ain't pretty, but it's true. 

To me, this card seems to be saying "I've tried everything to release this pain short of letting it wash over me. So I'm just going to fall into it and trust I won't drown." That's what all the experts say to do, right? Feel what you feel. Let it all out. Feel it until you heal it.

I used to be really good at crying and "feeling it". But somewhere along the line, all of that went away. I don't know if it's age or negative reinforcement or numbness or what. I can't do it anymore. Which isn't to say I don't still cry from time to time. But now I cry when the rain barrel is full and can't hold any more emotion. Or when really bad stuff happens, like when my brother was dying. 

Honestly, I spent so many years being either content and "normal" or down and depressed (I've never been manic, which is evident by how little ever gets done around this house) that I don't even know what's healthy or "normal" anymore. Is it healthy to just let emotions wash over you? Or is it healthy to just take them by the jugful when you've got the capacity? With my history of depression, falling back into the waters frightens me. 

The good news is that somewhere between making better choices, building self esteem, meditating, gaining a spiritual purpose and starting on prescribed pharmaceuticals, I feel pretty even most of the time these days. A couple of years ago menopausal mood swings made antidepressants wise, if not necessary, for me. But all those years of resisting them makes my knee-jerk reactions err on the side of not swimming in the deep end if I can help it. 

Pretty much every entry I write comes with an answer. But this one does not. Will this woman have the courage to fall backward? And if she does fall in back in trust, will she get taken by a rip tide? Or will she wash gently back up on shore, weary from the waves, but nonetheless cleansed? I really don't know. 

That's part of the dilemma of the Two of Swords. A choice has to be made and every choice we make in life comes with some sort of gift and some sort of consequence. We usually choose based on the gifts. But we do have to be cognizant that we're also choosing a consequence. 

Perhaps that's what she's really falling back into in this card...a choice. And she just has to trust that whatever consequence she's choosing is one she can live with. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9/13/12—Finding Truth in the Gray Areas

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic. Do you believe one presidential candidate is whacked out and the other is reasonable? Do you find yourself using the word "evil" to describe people in your life? What can BJ and Fifty Shades of Gray tell you about how to be in this world?

Day Four of the One Card Challenge and I'm rarin' to go! Since part of my intent for this week was to teach a little about different ways you can read cards, I'm going to do some teachy teachy stuff today, too. 

One of the ways I teach card meanings is to teach all the twos at once, for example. It actually works. There are common lines you can draw and keywords you can reference through each number of the minor arcana which can make remembering card meanings a little easier. And each number 1-10 of the minor arcana (the "pips" as we call them in tarot) corresponds to two, sometimes three major arcana cards. These cards also embody the same basic keywords. 

The majors that correspond to the number 2 are the High Priestess (major arcana 2), Justice (major arcana 11) and Judgment (major arcana 20). The reason these are all twos is because if you reduce their numerical assignations to a single digit, you get two. For example, Justice is card 11 and 1+1=2. 

So yesterday we talked about balance and choice being keywords for the twos. That is clearly seen in the Justice card with the scales of justice and fair reasoning. And it can be seen in Judgment, because the angel is calling your soul to judgment so a choice can be made based on your past experiences. Those are simplistic definitions of those cards, but they work. 

But now to the mother of all twos, the High Priestess. For me, she demonstrates another aspect of the twos...dualism. She is positioned between the dark and light pillars of Solomon's temple, Boaz and Jachin (bet you thought the BJ stood for something else, huh?). All this points to balance. And the High Priestess is the embodiment of the intuitive powers we discussed in yesterday's card. But, to me it also says she stands in that place between black and white. Which is the meaning I want to address in today's entry. 

In both of the Two of Swords cards you've seen, the woman's head is centered between two equal and opposing things...the hands on the Victorian Romantic version and the Swords on the Rider Waite Smith. Somewhere in that intersection between the two extremes is where truth lies. All three of the major arcana cards I've discussed today are focused around truth in different ways...the practical facts of Justice, the spiritual truths of judgement and the intuitive truths of the High Priestess. What all these cards are telling us is that truth lies within shades of gray (cue the jokes about 50 Shades of Gray). 

You see it all the time. Someone is surly and antisocial. So they're a monster, a psychopath, evil incarnate. Or a restaurant has really good pasta, so you've got to go there, everything on the menu is fabulous! We tend to place judgments on people, situations and things based on black and white views of the world. The truth is rarely black or white. The surly person might give of themselves in other ways. And the restaurant might have a really bad cheesesteak. I would like to say "nothing is all good or all bad", but even that statement is an absolute! 

Though I sometimes find myself placing people at things at extremes, it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I really don't like the way we demonize some people and deify others. We not only do them a disservice, but we do ourselves one, too. Because we never see the truth. More importantly, though, we put greater distance between ourselves and our god.

A couple of days ago the US commemorated the day when "the evil doers came and attacked our innocent country." That is how many Americans feel. But the thing is, every interaction and every drama we have with someone else reflects something back on us. And when we demonize our opposition and deify ourselves, we hold that reflection away from us, as though it has nothing to do with us. 

Denied in all the violence of that day was a message about the way we're seen in the world. Certainly it was an extreme message and an extreme expression. And I, in no way, excuse what they did or accuse the victims. This isn't about that. It's about how, when we demonize others, we miss the reflection. We say, "that is not me, I am good, they are bad, I am reasonable, they're fanatics." 

The truth is America's not all good. Some of the things the terrorists had to say about our ego focused, money driven society were true. A few blocks away and a few years later, another unfriendly plot was being hatched against our citizens by Wall Street. We may have been taken by surprise by the crash of our economy, but do you think the jihadists were? Of course not. They've been trying to tell us who we are for years. But we didn't listen. Because they're crazy evil doers and we're doers of good. Just ask all the families we've given mosquito nets to in third world countries.

When we say, "all those criticisms are outside of me, they have nothing to do with me, I have no control over their opinions"—when we refuse to listen and see what's being reflected back—we keep the door open for more aggression to happen. When we demonize our detractors, we, in that one simple act, absolve ourselves of responsibility in the dynamic. If god is everywhere and everything, we can't disconnect from others by placing them separate from us. They're not. We are all part of, and a product of, god. We are all of the same stuff, just in slightly different shades of gray with no pure black or white among us.

I don't mean this to be about 9/11 or good and evil, but more to illustrate what we do when we ignore shades of gray. Those men who flew into the towers had families that they loved. They were doing this as part of a holy war in their minds. They were doing this out of devotion to their beliefs.We can debate all day about how screwed up that is, just as we can debate how screwed up America was to enslave men and women based on our beliefs. The fact remains, they were not all bad. And we're not all good. Black and white are only reference points to enable all the gray in between. 

So, in all my story above, we see how the Two of Swords can indicate a mind split into dualistic thinking and show us that our head should rest somewhere in the area between. We can see how the truth lies between those extremes and the role intuition and divine fairness play throughout the twos. And we can also see how black and white thinking is another way of holding others and our god at arm's length. If we're going to evolve and if we're ever going to change the way this crappy world operates, we need to ditch the dualistic thinking that holds our growth at bay and begin to understand ourselves and others in a more divinely intimate way. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/12/12—Seeing Within

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Are you on the fence about a decision? Is your indecision driving you batty all throughout the noggin? Is it possible that there's something in the big picture you're failing to see?

For today's look at the Two of Swords, I'm going to use the traditional meaning for the card. Or perhaps I should say one of the traditional meanings for the card. Which means I'm also going to include the traditional image so you can see what I'm talking about. 

Quite different from the one we've looked at the last couple of days, huh? She's blindfolded. And while you would think that would make her more vulnerable, she doesn't seem nearly as vulnerable as she does in the Victorian Romantic's version. For one thing, she's sitting, so she's quite stable. For another, the turbulent skies behind her are gone. And, let's get down to brass tacks. The real reason she looks less vulnerable is because that chick is totally armed to the hilt with those ten-foot-long mammajammas she's holding! :D

Twos in tarot are all about balance and choice. So whatever suit you're in, the twos bring a second thing into the picture that brings balance and a choice. In the cups, it's about meeting your "other half" and choosing love. In pentacles, it's about choosing to balance resources. In wands, it's weighing your options so you can make a balanced decision. And in the swords, it signals two thoughts or ideas, each of which have equal, and sometimes opposing, appeal. 

This is our REAL image of the week.
Somewhere inside you, there's a tie that needs to be broken...a split decision that needs to be resolved. Some consider the blindfold to indicate something you're not seeing. Some consider it an aid in objectivity. Either way, my thought about this version of the card is that all your focus and energy is going into the debate in your head. But there is another factor plastered all over the card that you may be missing—your intuition, represented by both the moon and water. Perhaps that's why she wears the blindfold. To see within. 

Swords is one of the most difficult suits of the tarot because it deals with all that noise inside our heads. Sometimes we get so caught up in strategy and thought and fairness and weighing things that we forget to consult our inner muse. Where does your intuition want you to go? Where are the tides you pulling you personally? Forget about what you *think*. What do you KNOW?

The Two of Swords comes along to reassure us that we have what we need to make the right decision. We just need to make it. But it also tells us that, try as we might to make a decision where everyone wins, swords cut both ways. So if you're holding out for a decision without consequences, you'll be suffering at the edge of life's vast saltwater pond for quite some time. Capice?

Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11/12—Assessing Our Boundaries

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Do you know someone who puts up so many boundaries you just can't connect with them on a deeper level? Is it possible you have a boundary or two that really doesn't serve you? Or, conversely, is it possible your boundaries aren't strong enough?

It's day two of One Card Challenge week and I'm going to go with my favorite meaning of this particular Two of Swords, holding back the world. That's the meaning that comes with the guidebook to this deck, yet it's still not the traditional meaning of the card. To me "holding back the world" connotes two things, both having to do with boundaries. One is a sort of "stop the world, I want to get off" kind of thing where you just can't take any more stimuli and you have to shut doors for a short time. The other is a permanent wall you erect to draw boundaries of protection. 

The good side of boundaries is that they show lines that others can't cross. These are the lines that keep users, abusers, haters, energy vampires and other na'er-do-wells at bay. Being lax on your boundaries with people that don't match your vibe just invites them in. Every time you say "don't do xyz" and then proceed to allow the other party to do xyz without consequence, you not only lose respect and your integrity, buy you also push your boundaries out further and further, enabling more and more "abuse". So when it comes to deal breakers in relationships, it's good to have strong boundaries and follow through on them.

The downside of boundaries is that you can have ones so firm that they push everyone away. I used to have a friend who never turned on her phone and was only available by email during work hours. If you had an issue and needed to talk, it would only happen after she retrieved her phone messages, and then when she felt like returning the call. Essentially you had to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance to access her friendship. This was not the person to call if you were ever in jail, bleeding or in need of shoulder to cry on. She was only available for good times, and on her terms. 

So people can draw boundaries so tight that their interactions with others can't make it past the superficial. But not all unhealthy boundaries are so obvious. We often disguise them. For example, there's the person who gets sexually intimate early in a relationship because it keeps the risk of emotional intimacy at bay. Or the person who over-shares so you'd never suspect their REAL issue. What looks like loose boundaries might actually be there to hold you back from discovering the real secrets. 

Usually the last thing we consider when we have unsatisfactory relationships is that we might actually be part of the problem. The last thing we ask is how our own boundaries might be contributing to the repeating cycles in our lives. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of those boundaries and decide they're ok. After all, we're all allowed to draw lines in the sand. But when we're not happy with the quality of our relationships, we owe it to ourselves to ask "where might my boundaries—or laxity with my boundaries—be to blame?"

There are many ways that we try to "hold back the world". The Two of Swords acknowledges that there are circumstances under which we need to temporarily erect physical, spiritual, social or psychological defenses. But when those defenses become part of our day to day routine, it's time to assess whether they're doing more harm than good.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9/10/12—Surrendering to Something Higher

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic tarot. Is there a struggle in your life you're willing to give up in order to reach a higher state of being? Is there a way in which you've placed conditions on your own self love? What are you willing to do to put these issues behind you?

First, I'd like to invite any of you on Facebook to please "like" my new author page, K. Tierney Sadler, Author. This is where I'll be posting updates about my books, including The Deck of 1000 Spreads due out in Spring 2013 from Llewellyn and now available for pre-order. My apologies to those of you who are among my Facebook friends, because you've now heard this a few times. :)

OK. On to the business at hand. This week is One Card Challenge week at the Daily Draw. And by that I mean I'm going to choose one card and do the entire week on that one card, posting a different message every day. I'm doing this for a few reasons. One is to show my students (and anyone else) how this can be done. Another is to challenge myself, because I'm not sure I can do it. And a third reason is because I often do a couple of days with a single card and I thought it would be interesting to see what I might get revisiting a card for an entire week. 

So the deck I've chosen this week is the Victorian Romantic. I chose this deck because it's one of my three main reading decks. That doesn't make this task easier, imo. It makes it harder, because I already have automatic ways I read the cards in this deck. 

I always say to my students, "Forget about the card's meaning. What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you turn the card over?" With this Two of Swords, on this particular day, my response is "devotion". Devotion in the sense that the woman seems transfixed, blind to what is going on around her and intoxicated by whatever is happening before her. This is not the traditional meaning of this card, nor what the author intended. I will be addressing those aspects later in the week. "Devotion" is just my first impression of the card upon seeing it. 

Devotion to something is surrendering to it. There is no resistance. Nothing to question. No conditions. Surrender is the same as the unconditional love I spoke of last week. In this particular card, I see surrender to either a higher power or surrender to some aspect of life. In those cases, surrender brings the added gift of freedom from a lot of emotional pain. 

So, lets go back to the fictional example of the mother of the Colorado shooter (seeing as how I have no knowledge of his real mother). But assuming she has total unconditional love for this child, she is likely not in pain because he hurt HER by killing people. She forgave him for everything he may ever do when he was still in her womb. That's how unconditional love works. You love without condition. You forgive without condition. Which is not to say she's not in pain, but her pain is likely for how he has hurt himself, how he has hurt others in the family and how he has hurt all the people touched by the tragedy. 

What she is not suffering over is this—Can I ever forgive him? How can I continue to love a son like that? Of course my example is that of an imagined ideal, but really consider where much of your pain would be as a mother were there even a question about conditions. It would be in "can I turn away from him when he needs me because what he has done is so horrific?" When you've surrendered, the answer is no. It's not even a question. And if you can forgive the big stuff, you're wasting energy bothering over the small stuff. So you gotta forgive that, too. The same is true when you're devoted to God, yourself, a pet...anyone. 

So as not to sound like a re-hash of last Friday's post about the healing power of unconditional love, I do specifically want to make the point about God and yourself in today's entry. If you feel resentment toward God for something, your love is not unconditional. If you blame him for your pain, your love is not unconditional. And you do need to take responsibility if you ever thought it was. Because if it was, your love and confidence in him would have never come into question. 

Next, the point about YOU.  Ask yourself if and why you've ever turned away from yourself. Are you engaged in an addiction or dangerous or self-destructive behavior? That's turning away from yourself. Are you beating yourself up for your infractions? Are you mistreating yourself? I'm among those who will admit to not being devoted to myself, not surrendering to myself and not loving myself unconditionally. And I have no good reason to give as to why. 

I have no good reason why I allow myself to suffer over myself, except that I must feel a need to suffer for some imagined infraction. Because frankly, I've never done anything worthy of treating myself the way I treat myself, nor would I allow anyone else in my life to cause me the pain I've caused myself. It has long been time to love myself for who I am, starting with the way I am now. 

So if you find yourself in a cycle of pain with yourself, with God or with another, it's because you haven't *decided* to love them unconditionally. Because if you had made that decision, no condition could have come along to change your mind. You don't have to love everyone unconditionally. But if you have a child, pet, god or self that you continue cycling in pain around, you may want to make that decision. It doesn't come automatically just through your relation to that person. It's a decision you have to make and never go back on. A decision to forgive and love, no matter what. A decision to put that love above the ego...above the need to be right. A decision to surrender to what is and what may come. Then acting in integrity to that. It's a verb that never stops verbing in your life. 

Easy? No. But it gets easier once you get past the struggle to surrender...once you start making choices in alignment with love. The woman in this card can be seen putting the emotions (water), mental struggles (clouds), worldly concerns (earth/rock) and impulse (lightning) behind her, and surrendering her focus to a higher state of being. So what struggle are you willing to give up in your life for that higher state of being? And what choices are you willing to make to get yourself there?