Friday, November 30, 2012

12/1/12-12/2/12—Going for It

Weekend Reading: King of Wands from the Art of Life Tarot. Don't think too hard about whether or not you want to follow your passion this weekend. Have the confidence to go for it. Someone is going to get the brass ring. It may as well be you. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

11/30/12—Being the Quintessential Mother

Today's Draw: The Empress from the Wild Unknown Tarot. Do you see a lot of similarities between your parent's parenting and your own? What do you do well as a parent? What could you use a little work on?

As it turns out, I am my mother. I was sitting outside tonight, the dogs left inside against their desires, thinking about what a pain in the ass it can be to care for others and how much it sucks when that care comes at a cost to your own self care. 

I know my mom felt that way sometimes. Don't get me wrong, she was an amazing mother to six human children, held a full-time job and cared for my father. All of that came before anything she might do for herself. And sometimes she did things for us that just sucked the life out of her. But she did them anyway. 

Along with all of that, though, came a lot of drama. She'd cry out things about we were "getting on her last nerve" when we hadn't really done anything terribly wrong. She'd have the adult equivalent of tantrums. She'd even faint sometimes. Just for effect. And sometimes I would just stare at her wide-eyed, not understanding at all what could have driven her to these extremes of drama. 

But now I get it. And, mothers of human children out there, I don't know how you do it. Except that it's probably easier to communicate to a child about what is proper behavior.  Of course, my dogs don't talk back to me. So it's a trade-off. And I know I've got the much easier end of the stick. 

But this new dog has been sent to me as the ultimate challenge. It's rare that I can walk across a room without being accosted by a manic dog these days. I've tried every "positive" means of trying to teach her how not to flail and jump and nip. And none of them work. 

Yes, we're taking training classes. Are they helping? Yes. But only to a degree. See, Mystic gets scared at clickers and runs into a corner when she hears one. And the teacher keeps forgetting not to click in her face. There's only so much you can learn when you're hiding, traumatized in a broom closet and not in the classroom with the rest of the dogs. 

So yesterday after a long day of meetings followed by heavy traffic, I come home and put my carryout bag on the stove. Then I go upstairs to let Mystic out of her crate. And in the gap between how quickly a manic, freaked out dog gets down the stairs and how slowly an exhausted mommy does, Mystic manages to jump up on the stove and light my dinner—and almost the house—on fire. Yes, we are now getting child-proof knob covers. You live and you learn. 

What this is all leading to is that right now I feel like I'm on my "last nerve". And I think of how many times my mom was there. And even though she'd be on her last nerve, she'd still let me snuggle up to her and she'd stroke my hair and do her nurturing thing...just like I'm doing with Magick Moonbeam right now. Because that's what's mommies do. And, imperfections, complaints, drama and all, I'm glad to nurture in the same mold as my mother. 

The Empress is the quintessential mother and nurturer. But I think it's important to acknowledge that quintessential does not mean perfect. We do what we can do. And if we have a few emotional breakdowns along the way, so be it. The most important thing is that, at the end of the day, we love our babies and try to do our best for them. 

For my tarot friends who may be considering this deck. It's beautiful. LOVE the card stock. It's very smooth and silky and substantial. And the artwork is very nice. As an FYI, many pips are non- or just partially illustrated. But if you're on the fence and wondering about quality, I say get it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

11/29/12—Zeroing in on Judgment

Today's Draw Classic*: Judgment from the Spiral Spirit Tarot.  Is there an aspect of your life you can no longer deny or run away from? Is it time for a change? How do you read the Judgment card?
The Judgment Card has always been a challenging one to read for me. Yeah, yeah, it's about rebirth and transformation, but so is the Death card. And, sure, it's about a time of accountability, summing up and truth, but so is Justice. So I've always struggled with what to do with this card in a reading. It just doesn't speak to me in a unique voice. Or didn't. 

Each month I lead a tarot meetup where we spotlight a different card in each meeting. Every month as I put my notes together for this meetup, I learn something new. And the insight I got while researching this card makes all the difference in how I read it and it's unique position in the tarot. So I thought I'd share it with you. 

The card that comes before this in the tarot is the Sun. And the Sun shines so brightly that it illuminates our shadowy corners...the ones we even hide from ourselves. Our eyes are opened to an issue and we can no longer stay in the dark. We must change. Death and the Tower cards thrust change upon us. But the Judgment card brings change we choose.

One story I have that illustrates these distinctions belongs to someone I used to know. She was driving at twice the legal blood alcohol limit on a New Year's Eve maybe 25 years ago. She was on an unlit street and didn't see a bunch of teenage boys pushing an unlit car down the road...until it was too late. A boy lost his leg that night. And my friend lost life as she knew it.  

There's a lot of muddy area here, but I would argue that the boy had a Death card moment. One phase of his life died and another began. A line was drawn in the sand. He literally would never be the same. Many years later he contacted my friend and he said losing his leg saved his life, because he was on a downward spiral in his life at the time. Today he's a different man with a wife and family and career he may have never had otherwise.

I'd say my friend had a Tower moment—she was utterly shaken to the core and went to prison for a couple of years. Every aspect of her life fell to wayside, along with her freedom. Once she got out of prison, she rebuilt her life using what was left of foundation she'd had before...her values, ethics and her career.  

But her Judgment moment in all of this was when she realized she had a drinking problem that had to be fixed. This level of inebriation was not an isolated incident in her life. It took the accident to shine a light on a part of herself she had previously denied. And once that dark corner was lit, she made the changes she needed to make in her life. 

To the extent she was possessed by her alcohol issue, the accident wasn't her choice. Certainly not a conscious or "sober" choice. But quitting drinking was. That's the distinction with the Judgment card.

We've all had those moments in our lives, haven't we? Maybe you see someone at the mall berating their child and realize you're not so supportive yourself. Or maybe you go on vacation for two weeks and return to see with fresh eyes what a ratty gardener you are. Or maybe you find out you have halitosis and have had it for years. 

Although it sounds unpalatable, it's really not. Judgment moments lead to the healing of old wounds, the breaking of bad habits and the forgiveness of long-held grudges. Because it's a change of your choosing, you're taking a conscious hand in your own evolution. The illumination may come from the grace of a higher source, but the redemption is all on you.

*From a post originally written on 3/1/12.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

11/28/12—Feeling Your Feelings

Today's Draw: The Hierophant from Dreaming Way Tarot. Have you ever observed yourself avoiding your emotions? What kinds of things do you do in order to avoid them? How much practice do you have at purposely sitting in the midst of those emotions and feeling them through to the end?

The Hierophant signifies a spiritual teacher or teaching, among other meanings. Recently I've been feeling really disconnected from my spiritual self, so I've been making an extra effort. One of my friends has a 1.5-2 hour commute each way every day, so she listens to Buddhist teachings from Pema Chodron on CD and, frequently when we talk, she mentions some of the principles she's considering at that time.

Lately she's been talking about "staying with your emotions", which is something I've always meant to get around to...haha. But see, that's how it usually works with people. We avoid. We have an issue at work, for example, and we distract ourselves. Bury our heads in work. Or go home and have a drink. Or watch TV. We follow our impulse to "make the pain stop".

Staying with the pain isn't about going home and telling your spouse about your day. Sure, that's better than nothing. But staying with the pain is about sitting there and going inside yourself and letting it wash over you. It's about taking that pain all the way back to what it's really about. It's about feeling all the fears that the situation brought up for you. It's a deeply personal thing and not something someone can do for you or with you. You can share your experiences with others, but it's part of your personal journey.

Most of us don't even know what that is, because we're so good at not looking at our issues. And the consequence of all of that is that, at best, we're held captive by our fears. At worst, avoidance manifests as unhealthy behavior and addiction.

I think we can all agree that I'm a pretty introspective person...haha. But I'm an expert at avoiding really feeling my pain. And if I'm that good at it, imagine what it must be like for someone who avoids introspection altogether! Think of how many people can't even go as far as the people who read this blog. And think of your own behavior when you're hurt or scared or frustrated. Do you sit there in silence and feel it all the way to your toes? 

Yeah. Me either.

Pema likened it to scabies (gah!). But I'm going to say poison ivy. Our first urge is to scratch the spot, just like our first urge is to stop the emotional pain. But if we scratch, we spread the poisonous oils and make the poison ivy worse. The same is true for our pain...if we scratch our itch by avoiding the pain, it just spreads within us. It creates more pain and even disease. If we don't scratch our "avoidance itch", however, and sit with the pain...allow it and trace it back to our innermost fears...we learn how strong we really are. It may sound ironic, but the only path to making the pain go away forever is to dive down deep into it...stop avoiding it. 

I frequently find myself examining myself and seeing where I can improve and raise my vibration and all that. But that's just one facet of the path. We can become better people all we want, but what kind of a foundation is that built on? One where our fears and pains are swept into the corner to fester and mold? I think we can only go so far along our path without learning to sit with our emotions. Because the more refined we become as individuals, the more the tar of our avoided emotions diffuses our light.

Monday, November 26, 2012

11/27/12—Taking the Hardest Step

Today's Draw: Two of Wands from the Art of Life Tarot. Are you ready to leave a part of yourself behind? Have you made the decision to make it happen yet? Or are you still not ready to leave the comfort of where you are?

The Two of Wands is a card of surveying possibilities and making plans. But sometimes we can get stuck in the process of surveying, planning, dreaming, envisioning and wishing, and never end up moving forward. And the reason for that is the J. P. Morgan quote on today's card:

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are."

It sounds so simple, but it's really kind of hard. Where we are is predictable. It's safe. It's easy. We know how to maneuver it. And it keeps us in our "story"...the one we discussed yesterday. 

We have grand visions of where we want to go. We put our energy into looking forward. And it would great if we could close the door on who we are once we've landed safely in who we want to be. But we can't. We have to leap into that in-between world where one door is closed and the other is not yet open. 

There are times I'm very willing to enter that realm. And there are other times I cling to tightly to where I am out of fear of either the failure or success of who I want to be. At times like that, it's good to be reminded that we can't step forward without making that decision to lift one foot up and leave where we've been resting for so long. 

And the word "decision" is key. It's the difference between "trying" and "doing". Once you've made a decision, you have to move forward. The good news is that it's usually the hardest single step you'll make on the way to your dreams. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

11/26/12—Perpetuating Your Story

Today's Draw: The Six of Cups from the Book of Azathoth Tarot. What's the story you tell yourself about what keeps you stuck in life? Is this story true...or is it based on something that happened years ago? What purpose does it serve for you to perpetuate it in your life?

This is a new deck that seems to combine the word assignations of Thoth with the imagery of Rider Waite...well, maybe not the same imagery as RWS, but similar in many cases. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Rider Waite and Thoth are two different "systems" of deck creation and meaning. 

I'm not really sure this deck makes sense to me. The companion book isn't published yet, so I have no idea how they're interpreting the cards...Thoth-like or RWS-like or some sort of hybrid. I read something online about the Six of Cups being about the High Priest presenting his offerings in the Thoth tradition. I also read that, coming off the five, the six is about how much more appreciated pleasures are after coming out of the fear and pain of the five. (The word at the top of the card is "Pleasure") I'm really not a student of the Thoth, but this last bit seems to line up nicely with what I got out of the illustration...leaving the past behind. 

In the RWS, this card is about nostalgia and maybe meeting up with an old friend. But these creatures from the black lagoon (which I really dig in this deck, btw)...something about them says "making peace with the past" to me. That's the offering. And that's the chance at freedom and pleasure that you get when you move through fear and pain and are ready to move on. 

Leaving the past behind is one of those things that's easier said than done. Logically, you know there's no reason to hang on. But emotionally, you feel tied to it...more so in some cases than others. After all, the past is part of our story...the Story of Tierney is all about the past. It can only guess about the future. 

But many times the past can figure into "our story" in unhealthy and/or outdated ways. One of my ex boyfriends was a professional soccer player for a year or two. Over 20 years later, he was still tied to the story of "I had the chance and I blew it...what if I hadn't?" It was a whole "glory days" thing. He even looked and dressed like he did back then. He was caught in that story of the past. 

Now, 20 years later he had a good, secure job...he had a daughter who needed a father to present in his life...he had another chance at being a success. But he was blowing it because he couldn't get over the chance he blew 20 years earlier! His self loathing led him to alcoholism and anyone and anything who entered his, his daughter, friends, work...had to get in line behind the alcohol for his attention. Being drunk was the only way to numb the chance he blew back then. And it was causing him to perpetually blow every other chance that came his way. 

That's what our stories do. They keep us stuck, hold us back. They give us excuses for why we can't be everything we want to be today. And what we often fail to recognize is that they were a moment in time that no longer exists. Any "failure" we had in the past is just as likely to fuel success in our future, as it is further failure. And in that sense, it only has the power you're willing to give it in regard to what you're able to do today. It can keep you stuck. Or it can set you free. 

Iyanla VanSant has a good way to rephrase these things in our brain. Put "until today" in front of the story. "Until today, I was a bad cook. Now I'm going to try again." "Until today, I've always been attracted to the absolute wrong man for me." "Until today, I needed that drink to let go of my day." "Until today, I always seemed to attract users." "Until today, I hated to work out." See how it works?

The stories we tell ourselves and the words we choose have more power over who we are and who we're becoming than any force of will. Our inner thoughts can poison us or inspire us. We are constantly changing and have the opportunity to change every moment we're alive. Even if the "big mistake" you made was just yesterday, it's something that happened in the past and those conditions are no longer relevant. In fact, look even further back, because chances are you've made similar mistakes in the past...chances are, the mistake you made yesterday was made in order to make the story you tell yourself true. 

So ponder this and see what stories you tell yourself. Are they really, really true? What purpose are they serving in your life...what excuse do they give you? And are you ready to move on? Like the creatures in this card, maybe it's time to move beyond the fears and pains of the past and let them live where they belongs...not in your present, but in your past.