Friday, February 8, 2013

2/9/13-2/10/13—Making Promises and Keeping Them

Weekend Reading: Four of Staffs from the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in the Advice position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. The Four of Staffs is known as the marriage card, but it could symbolize any commitment, especially a commitment to a creative or passionate endeavor. So if you haven't committed to something you probably should, this is the weekend to do that. And if you're already committed to something, honor that commitment, whether it's proposing marriage or just meeting a friend for breakfast. ;) The tarot is advising us all to make our promises and keep them. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2/8/13—Leaving Religion in the Past

Today's Draw: The Hierophant from the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in the What to Leave in the Past position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you follow a certain religion? Have you left a certain religion? Either way, why?

Before I begin what could be a controversial and to some, even blasphemous, entry I have something I have to say. When I first flipped through the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery the other day, this card stopped me in my tracks. The green robes with the blue headdress...simply breathtaking. 

OK. On with the show. 

Robert Place defines the Hierophant as representing "exoteric religion and morality." Exoteric means that it's designed and/or communicated in a way that it would be easily understood by the general public. I had never heard that word before, but that's an interesting nuance on how I normally see the Hierophant. I normally see him as the guy in charge of spiritual or religious dogma. Often called The Pope card, he's in charge of presenting religious doctrine as being incontrovertible. 

While I think the Hierophant is actually both, I find the idea of "exoteric" to be compelling in regard to religious doctrine. I'll use the Bible as an example, but there are many religious tomes to which what I'm about to say can apply. 

As an advertising copywriter, the crux of my job is to compel others to take action, whether that be to visit a website or buy a product. I've been doing it for 25 years, so I'm well versed in how everything from the words you choose to the tone of voice you present them in can put a person in such a state as to incite action. And this doesn't apply just to advertising. It's the basis of any communication, whether promotional or not, fictional or not. 

So let's say the action the Bible wanted to compel was "belief". It would be written with such words, tone and story as to make you want to believe. Add "exoteric" to the mix and it's written in such a way that everyone—not just the well educated, the uneducated, the female, male, rich or poor—would believe. 

So it would make sense that they chose to write a story, one with love and violence, sex, good and evil. It makes sense that they would develop characters for that story that would support the idea of belief. So characters that didn't believe would meet horrible fates and those who did would be cast in a favorable light. And the hero of the story—he's the guy we want to believe in—so let's make him so formidable that, to not believe, would not only make you a bad person, but it would also put you in danger of a horrible fate. 

Finally, as for tone, let's base our storyline on some historic knowledge...knowledge that people already believe. That would make our entire story appear to be fact...facts so undeniable that to doubt them would make you seem foolish. And let's make it so authoritative that the uneducated would believe if they only knew the words and the educated would believe for the subtext beyond the words. 

That would certainly be the way anyone with the kind of knowledge I or screenwriters or journalists or novelists have for communicating to the masses and inciting action. Those with oratorial skills—such as preachers and presidents—would follow some of the same techniques, using the parts of fact that support their message and intent, punctuating certain parts and raising up the energy toward the end to inspire and motivate. 

OK. So here's the controversial and possibly blasphemous part—that, to me, is what religion is. And you'll notice I'm not talking about any religion in particular, but religion overall. It has a message designed to incite the action of belief that may or may not be based on actual events. It's communicated in such a way that everyone can understand. And the actual information—the spiritual teachings (note my use of spiritual here, versus religious)—are really secondary to the (ok, I'll say it) manipulation used to get you to take get you to believe. 

So this card...the card of the priest and exoteric in the What to Leave in the Past position. Which, to me, is saying it's time to move away from it. Most of the people reading these words are already there. Some are just part of the way. 

Here's the way I see it. The belief in God or a higher power is a good thing. The following of many religious teachings is a good thing. "Love thy brother" rocks, for example. The following of many moral teachings that come from religion is good. I LOVE the Golden Rule. But the idea that we have to buy the whole package to believe the parts is what's outdated. Because as far as moral and religious teachings are concerned, "love thy brother, but don't love them in certain ways if they're same sex as you" doesn't work for me. And "do unto others as you would have them do unto you...with the exception of judging them for their beliefs and condemning them to Hell for thinking differently than you" also doesn't work for me. 

In my mind, religion teaches a lot of fear and hate, which is why I don't partake. I don't believe God is the mass murderer depicted in the Old Testament, for example. I also don't believe I'll go to hell for saying that or for saying I think Jesus was a man. 

The fact that people should believe in a God that would give humans the power of free will, then condemn them for using it is something we need to leave in the past. The thought that we're any less able to hear God's guidance than a priest or Moses or David, is something to leave in the past. And, seeing as how even God himself couldn't foresee having a son when he carved the Ten Commandments and dictated the Old Testament, it's quite plausible there are many other things he couldn't have foreseen that have happened in the past couple of thousands of years. 

So what today's draw is saying is that this strict adherence to teachings born in a different age with different social mores is something to leave in the past. You hear the voice of God in your head just as clearly as anyone else who has ever walked this earth. If it tells you to toss it all aside, then that's the path meant for you. If it tells you to go all evangelical on its arse, then that's the path that's meant for you. The higher power made each of us an individual for a reason. The idea that we were created as individuals just so that we would all think the same way is not only contradictory, it's something we—and our religious leaders—need to leave in the past. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2/7/13—Living Happily Ever After

Today's Draw Classic*: Knight of Cups from the Infinite Visions. Do you believe in love at first sight? What about "happily ever after"? Is there some part of you that believes fairy tales are possible?

The book for this deck says "you may fall in love at first sight. Relish the feeling. It is probably temporary." Reading that made me laugh, mostly because it's so true. 

We've all "fallen in love" at first sight with the wrong person, right? Or even if it was the right person, we soon learned it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. There are five words that either literally or figuratively appear at the end of every love story that have totally screwed society because they are simply not true—"they lived happily ever after."

Those five words are the expectation of nearly every mutual attraction that has ever occurred. And they're the same five words that have delivered pretty much every divorce that ever occurred. This is what we've been brainwashed into expecting and when we don't get it, we're disappointed. Some choose to look for it elsewhere. Others just wallow in their bitterness. And still, it rarely occurs to any bride or groom who walks down the aisle that just it ain't gonna happen. There's no such thing as happily ever after, yet everyone believes their love will emulate the fairy tale.

Under no circumstances—married, coupled or single—do any of us live happily ever after. Even the Dalai Lama has bad days. Relationships take work. Just imagine if the fairy tales had told the much better off we'd all be if they had just said "and they struggled forth together, finding happiness in fits and spurts along the way." That's not so bad, is it? Reality isn't so awful. What's awful is placing the burden of "happily ever after" on someone you love. 

Another thing I thought of when I saw the Knight of Cups and the book's description is how I feel sometimes when I buy something. Like I'll be all whipped up in a romantic frenzy with some "treasure" I've found online and when it finally arrives in the mail, it's like "what possessed me to buy this turkey?" (Which I'm sure is what women say about their husbands at times...haha). 

So this leads me to two rules I've set for myself. The first is to be suspect of all "love at first sight" and "soul mate" BS with men. Sure, it turns out successfully sometimes...some rare times. But most of the time you're attracted to someone for reasons you cannot know and when you try to wedge it into a love mold, everyone loses. Either that or you're attracted to the one person who will drive you insane so that you'll learn a certain life lesson from them. That's the reality. So no sense in diving into some fantasy that no man, living or dead or fictional, could possibly live up to. The fastest way to choke out any chance of love—love that deepens and grows over time—is to jump into a relationship too quickly because it's "love at first sight". If it's really love, it can wait for 2nd sight and 10th and 20th sight before you decide he's the one. 

And the same thing goes for online purchases...haha. That's my second rule. If I see something I like, I earmark it and, if it's still calling out desperately to me after 24 hours, I can take a second look, with "sober" eyes, and see if I want to buy it. No more sudden and desperate urges for juicers I have no counter space for or dresses my body can't pull off and I'll never wear anyway because I don't wear dresses. Sure, it's fun to go with the thrill every now and then. But if it's happiness you're looking for, it will wait until you can see the path more clearly.

*Repeat of a post made on 2/22/12

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2/6/13—Contemplating Life's Mysteries

Today's Draw: Queen of Cups from the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in the Unconscious Desires position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. When it comes to things like God and love, would you rather know all the answers? Is your hope in contemplating the mysteries of life that you may one day light upon an answer? Or is the mystery more valuable than any answer could ever be?

Just so you know, we're going to use this deck for the rest of the week because I'm digging it. If you have issues with that, feel free to contact one of my assistants.  :D

The Queen of Cups thoughtfully contemplates a mysterious cup. Yet she's not opening it up to see what's inside. Could it be that some things are better left a mystery? When this card falls in the Unconscious Conscious desires position in a spread, that could very well be the case. 

What immediately occurred to me is our spiritual beliefs. They're better left a mystery, I think. With mysteries, all possibilities are possible. There's room for magic. And if there's one thing I like to make room for in my life, it's magic. 

So consider if there were no mystery or interpretation left in the Bible, for instance. It really is the word of God. It really was told exactly as God told it. It is a completely unbiased accounting history. There is only one way to interpret it. And everything within it is indisputable. So there is only one religion. Only one way of seeing God and his law. No mystery. No questions. No magic. 

Wouldn't God and religion lose some of its zest and awe? Isn't it the questions and all the possible answers that keep us searching throughout the millennia? Isn't it the searching that gives God his superawesomeness? 

The same is true of the cosmos. What is there to look up and wonder about if you have all the answers about the millions of galaxies and life on other planets? And love....where is the juicy excitement if you know before you even meet someone what role they'll play in your life? And life...consider all the things you might never attempt if you were born knowing all about how it were going to go. 

It's funny how much time we spend contemplating the answers of things that are better left a mystery. Though there is great drama, magic and possibility in that contemplation. 

If the Queen leaves the vessel closed, it could be filled with diamonds, chocolates or even a fairyland of delightful little ponies...anything! But if she opens it to find dust—or even gold—all the magic goes away. The mystery itself is worth more than a vessel full of gold. Perhaps the Queen is wise enough to know that. And so she will continue to ponder and dream. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

2/5/13—Leaving Bullying in the Past

Today's Draw: Seven of Staffs in the What to Let Go Of in the Future position from the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by Robert Place and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you ever yell at telemarketers just because you can? Do you treat those less privileged than you differently than you treat those more privileged than you? Has there ever been a situation in your life when you've been the bully?

First of all, for reasons that should be obvious just by looking at this one card, I'm thrilled to have Robert Place's new deck in my grubby little hands at last. He funded this deck through an Indiegogo campaign and it feels like I've been waiting FOREVER. He had a majors only version of this deck that I got a couple of years ago, but there's nothing like having the full deck to play with. His illustrations and colors are just beautiful. 

So in this deck, he labels the Seven of Staffs as "The Bully". And that's what we're supposed to let go of moving forward. This can be construed as aggression, competition or uncontained anger or passion toward another. 

People never like to think of themselves as bullies, but I think most, if not all of us, do it at some time or another. Maybe we get passive-aggressive with a cashier who isn't moving fast enough for us. Or we yell at a telemarketer. Or we get touchy with our child after having a bad day. Anytime there is a power differential and we treat the person "beneath" us differently than we'd treat our boss or someone "above us", like it or not, we're being a bully. 

And that "beneath us" thing could even be someone who is less well liked than us, quieter than us, more meek than us, or someone who is in want of our forgiveness. Sometimes the power differential also comes in the form of more people being on your side. So, like, say you're at a pro-choice rally and you're nasty to the handful of pro-lifers who show up...haha. That's being a bully. I've also seen people justify being a bully because the person they're bullying is a bully. That's being a bully, too. 

This card showing up in the What to Let Go of in the Future position is calling us to be aware of when there are power differentials, whether they're one-time situational things (the pro-choice mob) or whether it's a more permanent thing (boss/employee). And when there are power differentials, to be aware of the power we wield simply because we are in a place of power. Ideally we should treat all people equal, but it could also be argued that we should be more careful of how we deal with those who hold less power than we.

So if you treat your employee differently than you'd treat your boss, you're doing it wrong. If you respond differently to the sour person online than you would respond to the sour person who lives two doors down, you're doing it wrong. If you're acting differently because you're part of a group than you would act on your own, you're doing it wrong. And if you're acting poorly toward someone because they acted poorly toward you, sorry, but you're doing it wrong. 

At some point in our spiritual journey, we have to make the leap to showing kindness and respect to others, regardless. Society and the Bible teach us the law of an eye for an eye. But Jesus and Buddha do not. They teach us the power of forgiveness, integrity and raising others up to our light through example, rather than lowering ourselves into the darkness. And they also teach us to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. 

These are difficult lessons to learn because they ask us to be conscious before we act. They ask us to come out of ourselves and consider the other person. They ask to act from a place of self reference, rather than a place reaction to an outside source. And they ask us simply to be a better person than we were the time before. When you think of it as "that cashier was moving too slowly", you can justify being nasty. But when you think it of as "I used my elevated power as a customer to humiliate and embarrass this speed-challenged cashier," it's harder to justify and continue. 

Continuing with the former won't make you any different from many of the people who walk this earth, nor will it cancel your entry to heaven. The only tangible consequence is that you may feel bad about doing it afterward. But in spiritual or personal terms, you do continue to let this cycle of anger and guilt churn on in yourself. Doing the latter allows you to transcend that cycle, see it more honestly and understand the situation from a higher plane, one where there is no power differential or different options for response. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2/4/13—Learning the Outcome

Today's Draw: Wheel of Life in the Outcome position from the Margarete Petersen Tarot and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Is there something you're anxious to know the outcome of? Do you think we ever transcend all problems, even if it takes numerous lifetimes? What do you think that looks like?

Sometimes these draws with the Deck of 1000 Spreads are so perfect that I feel paranoid that you guys are going to think I draw certain cards on purpose, just to suit my agenda. I swear I don't!!! It's all random! Really!

The reason I say that is because today is one of those "perfect answer" days. And, of course, the question or position of Outcome is what everyone wants to know—how's it going to end? 

Well, according to today's card, it isn't. The wheel is a circle with beginning and no end. It just goes round and round. And while some things in our life may come to a close and we never have to deal with them again, for our souls, the cycle is eternal. 

In the next life, we'll do the same dances with the same people, though maybe we'll be on the other side of the table next time. And we've done the dance before, only this time maybe it wasn't so tragic as last time. Or maybe it's just like it was last time, but enough of the details have changed so as to make it look different. 

The same is true in this lifetime. For example, I could say I have nicer people in my life now than 30 years ago. But that's just my perception. I had as many nice people back then, but maybe gravitated toward the more troubled souls because I was one myself. So I didn't notice the nice people. 

The wheel keeps turning and thank god it does. Because with each turn it gives us another chance to get it right. And another chance to get it wrong...but maybe we've been making the right choices long enough that the wrong choices don't even stick to us anymore. 

Just today I was thinking about two situations where "the old me" would have made a different choice than the me today. And "the old me's" choices would have served only to stress me out and make me feel bad about myself. Which doesn't mean I'll never do anything that stresses me out or makes me feel about myself. Just that, for now, I've gotten past doing it in those particular ways. Today's outcome was good, but only temporary. And the wheel turns on. 

We make progress. We lift ourselves higher. We move our souls along on their journeys. But the story is ongoing. Once we reach a certain level of enlightenment, we might get the equivalent of "rich people's problems", but we still have problems. I mean, the Dalai Lama probably sometimes tires of being adored and having people hang on his every word. Those are enlightened people's problems...haha. 

Do we ever transcend? I'd like to think we do. Some schools of thought say at a certain level of enlightenment you don't have come back to the learning planes anymore. For all we know, there are planes of learning beyond "The Earth School". It occurs to me that, even if you learn it all and do it all and become a perfect being, you'll just be bored to tears. Being content all the time is really just the same as never changing. I mean, how good can content feel when it's the only thing available to feel?

So each of us probably has something in our lives right now that we're wondering's it going to end? And the answer is, it's not. If you squint really hard and soften your focus enough, you might be able to see a strange kind of comfort in that. Everything is passing. And everything comes around again.