Friday, November 29, 2013

11/30/13-12/1/13—Keeping Your Sanity

Weekend Reading: The Hooker With an Octopus from the Arcane Bullshit Oracle Deck. Looks like it's going to be a very interesting weekend—sometimes surreal, sometimes too real. Good thing you've got your sense of humor handy, because there are occasions in life where all you can do is laugh. But don't worry. If you find yourself getting disoriented or feel like your cephalo is going to blow, ground yourself by coming back to this pic and counting and how many pusses there are. 

For those interested in the deck, it's really cute. The description on the Gamecrafter site says it all: "Arcane Bullshit features a completely new system of made-up imagery and words that are seething with intense mystical potency!"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

11/29/13—Carrying Peace

Today's Draw: Ten of Energy from the Snowland Tarot. How long has it been since you've just wallowed in peace? Do you find yourself putting things between you and peace? With all the stuff you manage during a typical day, do you ever stop and examine what and whom you're serving?

Today's card shows a woman weighed down by the sticks on her back as she's guiding a yak even more loaded down. We've talked before about learning to say no to others when you already have enough going on. We've talked about being careful of the people who drain energy in your life. And we've talked about re-assessing what really needs to be accomplished now—or ever—to ease your burden. All of those things are what this card is about. 

Looking at all the prayer flags and the boy spinning the prayer wheel, however, it makes me think of how we can sometimes overburden ourselves on our spiritual and personal journeys, too. Maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to learn and grow. Maybe we beat ourselves up for backsliding. Or adopt too many regular practices. Or try too hard to believe something we don't. Or are pushing too hard against some inevitability along our path. Or maybe we've even just gone through a growth spurt and are feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

It's easy to see when a friend or acquaintance is sucking you dry, but sometimes harder to see where we're sucking ourselves dry. It may not even occur to us to look to ourselves as the cause of our spiritual or psychic exhaustion. Whatever the reason, it might be time to just stop and take a rest. 

The woman in this card is in a place of peace. She's in an area surrounded by prayer flags. She has prayer beads at her hip. And the child seems to be offering her his prayer wheel. Despite all of that, though, she is not at peace. She has "miles to go before she sleeps." Or prays. Or finds relief. She is so focused on doing the work that she puts off feeling the peace. She puts off contentment to suffer a while longer. Does this sound familiar at all to you?

I often find myself putting off meditation or deep thought or even being in the moment in favor of what's in front of me. I tell myself I'll never be able to concentrate if the floor isn't vacuumed. Or that I'll work more on my daily meditation practice after I reach this or that spiritual goal. I try to catch sunsets when they happen, but often I'll make a bunch of random rules...I have to do X, Y and Z before I can sit on the porch. Sometimes this means I miss the sunset. And the peace. In essence, I'm choosing the noise and toil over peace, based on a bunch of random rules and considerations that really mean nothing. 

What about you? Do you find yourself putting others and/or the pursuit of your own stuff between you and peace? And how important is personal peace to you? If it's the most important thing, why aren't you treating it that way?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

11/28/13—Letting Family In

Today's Draw: Five of Pentacles from the Golden Age of Hollywood Tarot. Are you looking forward to being around family during the holidays? Are you estranged from any of your family members? What's this holiday really all about anyway?

My Facebook readers requested another card from this deck for tonight's reading. There was a lively discussion about how the Seven of Pentacles from last night seemed more like a Seven of Cups, both visually and in the quote used (and in my interpretation). So people wanted to see another card. And I'm not sure this is going to help much, because today's card doesn't seem to mesh with the traditional meaning for the Five of Pentacles, which is poverty or poverty consciousness. Well, it kinda does and kinda doesn't. The part about lack of sanctuary does, though usually the Five of Pentacles doesn't hold the poor people responsible for their situation. And feeling like the odd man out is a kind of poverty, I suppose. 

That said, here's what the book says about this card (and there IS a book for this deck, despite what I said yesterday. You can download it on

Five – Well, Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into!
Cut off from the mainland. Decisions made that alienate your support systems. Disenfranchisement. Lack of refuge. No sanctuary. Need to acknowledge own role in current situation. Movie inspiration – Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in The Long, Long Trailer (1954). 

This all feels very appropriate for a Thanksgiving reading to me. Many families really like getting together for the holidays, but possibly even more people feel as though it's something they HAVE to do to keep the peace. I felt that way for many years myself. 

I think there are times when we feel like, growing up, our families were just necessary evils to endure while we became the people we became. Some of us, myself included, have family members we may not talk to or get along with or understand. And some of us may have made decisions that "alienate" our support system, as the lwb suggests. Even if we don't have issues with family members, for many, once a year is enough. 

For many years, I felt like an outsider in my Lucy in the window while Desi drives along unaware. There are many reasons I have felt this way. For one thing, I have a different set of beliefs than those in my family. I have one sister who shares my spirituality, but that wasn't always the case. I'm the most liberal in my thinking. I'm the only one who is self employed. I'm the only one whose career hinges on creative endeavors. I'm the youngest and very emotional and sensitive. I'm the only one who had weight issues growing up. There were three brothers between me and my sisters, so I really didn't even know them as a child. 

Although things have changed over the years and I'm pretty close to two of my siblings, I grew up feeling like the square peg that didn't fit into the round hole. That might be a part of my personality. And, in fact, I have a brother who felt the same way...neither of us had a comrade in the family growing up. His singularity came from being gay. Mine came from just being different. Maybe I would have felt that way in any family. But for the most part, I felt like this different creature that even my parents didn't quite know how to handle and nurture. 

So for many years, I felt like I didn't belong. At times I felt like they were all aliens who should be left to live their alien lives. But when my brother died last year, I began to realize that, even though you may not feel a connection to these people, you're connected to them in very deep ways. 

He was the one who insisted we get together every other year for Thanksgiving. Even though I live in the same area as him, it felt like too much for me to do. I dreaded it, in fact. He could be an ass, quite frankly, and who wants to spend a "family" holiday with family that just makes you feel less connected? That's how I felt and I would have told you I knew for sure my feeling was right. But then "the ass" got lung cancer, right around Thanksgiving time two years ago. And he died about six months later. And in that six months I learned more about the connection that runs in blood than in any other time in my life. 

It's easy to think you were born into the wrong family, but I happen to believe we choose the family we're born into for a reason. I know I once felt that this man, this brother who was nothing like me and who seemed to like to hurt peoples' feelings, was less my brother than many of my friends. But when things become real and you're faced with losing part of the foundation of who you are, things change. 

When I was born, my family had eight members. Up until adulthood, those were the people who defined my life, whether I liked them or not. The need for them felt greater then, but it never went away. Starting at the age of 21, parts of that foundation got chipped away as members began to die. First my mother, then my father, then my brother. (We always seem to pull together for deaths, for not for our own living selves, oddly.) And when nearly half that foundation is gone, you feel the teetering as you try to find a new sense of balance. This whole part about disenfranchisement and loss of support systems made me think of why tomorrow is so important, whether you like it or not. 

I won't spend this year with family. I have a brother I could have invited over, but I chose to go solo this year because I didn't feel like hosting. Now that the one brother who insisted we get together is dead, there's no telling when or if we'll all be in the same room again. I only have one sibling I don't talk to and it's not a situation of my choosing. He can't even articulate why he no longer talks to me and we used to be best friends. I thought. I've tried to reconcile, but he's not interested. And there were times in my life that I felt disinterested about being friendly with one family member or another myself. 

We come up with other "families" to be a part of and we justify our stance in holding our blood family at arm's length, but it's really more complicated than that. There are roots that go incredibly deep with the people who shared the first couple of dozen years of our lives with us. We can't brush them off as easily as we pretend we can. Inside, we're hurt. Inside, we're like Lucy banging on the window while everyone else seems to live their lives. But that's not the case. Without you, they also have a hole. They also have a crack in their foundation. And we're all just too proud to acknowledge it. 

So Happy Thanksgiving! Haha. 

Sorry to be so deep and dreary. It's just that sometimes we can't be thankful for something until we no longer have it. And that's the message for this Thanksgiving. It's a holiday meant for connection, not separation. Even if you're there in body, you still need to be there in spirit. If you have a happy family you love to see, good for you. But if you don't, part of the problem might be the cage you placed around your heart when it comes to these people—people who know your vulnerabilities and fears more than anyone else. 

Only you have the key to that cage around your heart. Even if you feel they're the ones that caused the pain, put the key in the lock and try to open it. Even if they don't reciprocate. I'm a very stubborn person, but I now know from personal experience that all the righteousness in the world means nothing when you realize the value of family too late. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11/27/13—Trying Something New

Today's Draw: Seven of Pentacles from the Golden Age of Hollywood Deck. Do you tend to be a creature of habit? Or do you tend to bounce from one thing to the next, losing interest easily? How open are you to trying new things?

Yesterday I lamented decks that come without books. And this is another. See, I wouldn't have known this was Rosalind Russell without the "life is a banquet" written on it. And as far as that goes, I had to  google the quote to see who said it. Some cards in the deck are, of course, obvious—King Kong, the Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe. But many of them I have no idea who they are or what the movie just from the card alone. Only a few cards have quotes on them. And it's not like I'm not familiar with movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s. So it's a little frustrating. 

Even if I knew who all the stars were just from the art on the card, I would want to know why the artist chose that particular person for the card.  To all deck creators out there...we know you put a lot of thought into the drawings you do. We just want to know what that thought YOU see the tarot cards. Unfortunately, sometimes the picture alone is not enough. Sometimes it raises even more questions. Not to rant on this particular deck, because it's a nice deck. And it's drawn well and all of that. But a lwb would help. /rant

UPDATE! Doh! There is a pdf guidebook for this deck at the point of purchase. I looked this evening before I wrote this and didn't see it. Doh!

So Rosalind Russel's full quote is, "life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." It's interesting that this would come up on the eve of the biggest banquet of the year. But what she really means is that there is so much to see and do on this planet and most of us just stick with what's familiar. 

I can totally see how that applies to me. But on the other hand, I'm not someone who's particularly adventurous to begin with. I have no desire for adrenaline inducing things like skydiving. I'm not into travel. I'm not tempted by weird or even unusual ethnic foods. But in my own way, I do step up to the banquet when it comes to creativity. I have tried so many different crafts that I'm sure I couldn't list or remember them all. I certainly feast at a banquet of tarot and Lenormand decks. And an occupational "hazard" is that I get to peek into many different kinds of businesses and learn a lot about a lot of different things. 

But when I consider the quote, I have to wonder what's out there that I haven't tried that I might like? I'm pretty much a creature of habit and have experimented enough in life to find enough things that suit me that I feel I live a satisfying life. But what's out there that could put a little unexpected vim in my life?

About a year or so ago, my brother gave me his first-generation iPad. Until that time, I had ZERO interest in an iPad and doubted I would even use one. I have two iPod Touches and an iPad is just a bigger version of that. But in taking this device off his hands, kind soul that I am, I discovered how much I really like the iPad. Its larger size is perfect for watching Netflix or reading an eBook as I drift off to sleep. It has become one of my favorite things. So how many more things, experiences, connections, hobbies, etc. might I like that I've just never tried?

So Rosalind Russell comes to us today to get us to think of that question and maybe be a little less resistant to things that are foreign to us. That, or she's telling us to fill up on turkey this Thanksgiving. It's cool to know what you like and stick to it. But it's also cool to continue to explore for new things to like and stick with, too. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

11/26/13—Holding On With All Tentacles

Today's Draw: Four of Pentacles from the Cephalopod Tarot by Kitsune. What kind of decisions do you make for money? What role does money play in your life? And is it possible that you could actually live a better life with less?

In the latest edition of "how come there's a full-sized tarot deck for every animal but dogs?" comes the Cephalopod Tarot. Yeah, cephalopods. You know, those sea creatures with big heads and tentacles like octopus, cuttlefish and squids. This deck even features mythical octo-maids for good measure. Though I'm not terribly drawn to cephalopods, it's a cute enough deck. The artist doesn't provide any information about her thought behind the drawings, but the cards are close enough to RWS symbolism that you really don't need a book. (But artists, just so you know, people like books. Even experienced tarotists like me.)

Tthe Four of Pentacles is usually about holding on too tight to money. We could use this card to talk about how holding on too tightly to money stops the flow of it in our lives. On the heels of yesterday's post, we could talk about fears of not having enough money. It's definitely the card of the miser. And, in some ways, the card of spending wisely. Or you can extrapolate it to mean holding on too tightly to pretty much anything...a resistance to change, for example. 

So many of those topics are where we've been hovering for the past couple of weeks. But today, it occurred to me that this card—this cephalopod—is making everything about money. He's not noticing the cool rush of salt water past his tentacles. He may not see a predatory sea lion approach from the rear.  Nor is he spending time wooing his lady-pus. It's all about the money. He's preoccupied with money!

It would be short-sighted to call him greedy. It would also be short-sighted to pretend you're separate from the phenomena. Most who read this were raised in a capitalist society. And in that society, money comes first. What working parent hasn't been torn between work and home, for example? Who hasn't ever made a decision based largely on monetary considerations? Who hasn't denied themselves sort of pleasure somewhere along the line, either because they didn't want to spend the money or didn't want to take time away from earning it?

It's a sad fact of today's super-sized lifestyles that money becomes our #1 preoccupation, ahead of all the other things that fuel us, like family, friends and personal interests. Whether we're the earners of that money or the ones that have to budget the spending, it's a major cause of stress in our lives. And yet, as long as we have food in our stomachs and a roof over our heads, there's always enough, right? So the question becomes, "why can't we trust that?" And then it's followed with, "what is this all really about anyway?"

I know that whenever I've made decisions in my life based on money, they've turned out to be unwise and unhealthy decisions. And I often feel like I focus so much on my career that I don't really experience the lifestyle that career was meant to afford me. To be clear, I do derive pleasure from my career and it's an essential part of who I am, but the focus becomes overwhelming, not just because I love to write, but because I love to write for MONEY...haha. I can't imagine what it would be like if I had humans at home to nurture and care for. As it is, I feel guilty about how much I push aside my dogs for business and I work at home alongside them!

What I'm getting at is, what if the importance of money is all just the brainwashing of our society? I mean, of course we need money. But do we need it to the extent to which we have it? All over the world, people live simpler lives and we are no happier for all our money. In fact, my obsession with tiny houses has taught me that people claim to be happier and lighter when they slough all the material crap in their lives. And being the child of two working parents, one who saw their role solely as a provider, I'm aware of all the stuff that's sacrificed by the urge to earn (I'm also aware of all that's afforded us by that same urge.)

So, whatever. Tonight the Four of Pentacles (or is that Tentacles?) is making me think of my own attachment to money and a certain lifestyle, as well as the decisions I make to bring or not bring money into my life. We need it to live, but what kind of life does it afford us when our lives become heavy on the "stuff" and light on the substance?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

11/25/13—Moving Past Fear

Today's Draw: Snake/Scythe/Angel from the Lovely Lenormand by Harpa Lúthersdóttir. Are you worried or anxious about something right now. Are you making decisions out of fear? Are you safe within the universe or, instead, do you live in a safe universe?

The Lovely Lenormand is a really sweet little deck. It's very simply drawn and uncluttered. It contains four extra cards, plus alternate Man, Woman and Child cards. Harpa also offers a deck like my Deck of Lenormand Houses, but in Icelandic. Which is really cool for those who know the language. But anyway, this Lovely Lenormand is just that...lovely. And it comes with a cute little card that you can give to someone you think is lovely, which just adds to the sweet, gentle nature of this deck.

I've decided to read this line of three in two different ways, which are related. The first is "fear is cut by spirit" and the second is "fear cuts away at spirit". I've replaced the traditional keywords for snake—danger, manipulation, deceit—with fear for today's reading, partly because it's what I want to talk about today and partly because these are the things we fear. 

Another interesting interpretation could be that a woman who cuts you down is really your angel. I like that because our nemesis is usually our greatest teacher. And often we'll get caught up in anger and hate for the person and miss the lesson. But when we crawl out of our victimhood and pain long enough to look at what she's mirroring back at us or what the lesson is, we can make great strides in our development. 

But back to what I wanted to talk about. I sometimes feel like I'm in a constant struggle with fear and anxiety. Like lately there's been a story about this knockout game where kids hit unsuspecting strangers upside the head to see if they can knock them out. And I was talking to mailman recently and he showed me a picture of a bit he got from a neighbor's pit bull...a huge chunk of flesh was gone from his knee and it took four months of rehabilitation to regain use of his hand. We have another such dog who often roams free in the neighborhood and has hurt other dogs, but not people. 

Then there's all sorts of other things compounding that. Someone on Facebook's neighbor's house exploded out of the blue. And things are slow at work right now. And I'm not in the best shape, what if I have a heart attack? Trust me, it goes on and on. I don't know if everyone is like this. But I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with anxiety. So this is something I've learned to control so that it doesn't control me. Which doesn't mean I don't still get all fearful now and again. But it no longer rules my life and my decisions.

Years ago I had the question posed to me, "are you safe within the universe or do you live in a safe universe?" The first way is conditional, which is where I was at the time and still go sometimes. The second way is the way of "everything happens for a reason" and "everything is a gift". It's also the way of knowing spirit surrounds and embraces you, like the angel in today's card. When I look back on my life, it's true—nothing has happened in my life that didn't serve me in some way. The universe always has my back. When I remind myself of that, and when I sit in silence with spirit, I remember there is nothing to fear.

We like to believe we're in control of our world and some of us go to great pains to set up a world that we can manage and control and keep in balance. And when we do that, we're operating out of fear. And in a world where we operate out of fear, all sense of control is an illusion, because fear is driving the bus. And fear puts distance between us and the source, essentially pushing source away because we can't trust it has our back. In a world where we operate out of love and trust, however, we have a kind of control in the sense that we remain pliable to all the slings and arrows that come at us. So we can weave and bob with life.

While I believe we can manifest anything we want in life, we have no influence over where, when and how that manifestation will occur. There is a greater hand moving the pieces around and that hand holds nothing but love. The more I remember that on my path, the easier I move along it.