Saturday, December 21, 2013

12/21/13—Turning Darkness Into Light



Today's post is part of a "tarot blog hop" honoring Yule or the Winter Solstice and carrying the theme of "turning darkness into light." Some may have come upon this page after reading Chloe's Yule post over at TABI.  And when you're done reading my post, please visit Stella T'arot's Yule post at US Games. In this manner, readers can "hop" to each of the 26 blogs participating in this blog hop.

Today’s Draw: Mountain + Dog from the Natalie Rose Winter Solstice Lenormand by SevenStars. Is there a lot of darkness in your life right now? Are you troubled by the darkness in the world? How long has it been since you've recharged the battery in your own light?

OK. It's not tarot and this is a tarot blog hop. But the deck was made specifically for the winter solstice, so I couldn't resist. 

And I'm glad I didn't resist because the Lenormand gave me the perfect answer for how to turn darkness into light: Trust. Trust that you will overcome your obstacles. Trust that the obstacles have entered your path for a reason. And trust that whatever darkness has enshrouded you is temporary and something you are capable of coping with, seeking help for or turning around. 

That's more for darkness of a personal nature—an illness, loss or depression, perhaps. But this draw also has an answer for the sort of darkness that pervades society. It asks us to be kind. Kindness is a light from which no darkness can escape. It sounds simple, but it's not. Because it means being kind to those who have hurt you. It means being kind to yourself. 

The dog is the quitessential symbol for kindness because dogs hold no grudges. They radiate nothing but love, even for the hand that strikes them. And while most of their love is given to the human in their life, they take time out every day to groom themselves, get their needs met and seek out love to receive. In other words, they are kind to themselves, too.

When you add it all up, you and your higher power are a dynamic duo and an unbeatable force for light. By trusting in the universe and exhibiting kindness, you can not only pierce the darkness, but you can also keep your energy from being lowered by the darkness around you. Because darkness can be a tricky thing. It will lure you by pushing your buttons and dragging you into its energy. However, it can't do that if you treat it with kindness. Compassion. Or forgiveness. 

It feels "unnatural" to greet hate with kindness at first. Your sensibilities will fight it. But when you make a practice of it, you will feel the shift inside and it will trigger shifts outside of you, too.

Recently there's been a lot of talk of racism and homophobia on the heels of comments made by a reality TV star. When you greet name calling with name calling, you become the thing you object to. And you trigger them to keep fighting back. When you greet it with kindness and compassion, you leave space for the other to think about what they're saying about such a kind, compassionate person. When you're being understanding, you leave space for a discussion, instead of a fight. The other may not always be receptive, but your energy won't go unrecorded.

Darkness is out there. It's all around us. And it persists because we greet it with darkness. We feed it. Fatten it. Poison our bodies with it. But the solution is clear. Ask yourself WWDD (What Would Dog Do). If dog attacks, he affirms the other's ire and suffers the consequences, even if the other cast the first stone. If dog licks hand, his kindness can shame the other into making different choices. 

It doesn't happen overnight. It may not work on everyone. But neither of those things matter as much as the effect kindness has on your own soul, karma and, more importantly, wattage of light. If you are the only one bearing light, shine so bright everyone can see, and trust that others will follow. 

Now that you're done reading my post, feel free to "hop backward" to Chloe's Yule post over at TABI or forward to Stella T'arot's Yule post at US Games. Or if you really want to be wacky, view any of the 26 blogs participating in this blog hop.

Friday, December 20, 2013

12/21/13-12/22/13—Letting Go To Make Room For Love

Check out (my blog) tomorrow after 9am Eastern for the Tarot Blog Hop featuring 26 blogs all on the topic of darkness and light! Here's a direct link if you see this after 9am Eastern (US) on the 21st. Now on to your reading...

Weekend Reading: Five of Chalices from the Light Visions Tarot (more pics here). I really love a deck that gives me a different way of seeing cards and this Five of Chalices did just that. Usually a card of disappointment and feeling sorry for yourself, this particular one seems to be telling us that sometimes you voluntarily let go of something you once loved so it can find its way to another "lover." It's a way of recycling the energy. So this weekend ask yourself if you're holding on to something just out of the hope that one day you will want it as much as you wanted it once before. This can be a person, an idea, a sweater...anything. And if the truth is that you're no longer loving this thing, let it go. Letting it go does two things. First, it's a final act of love, freeing the thing to find something that loves it back. And second, it clears a space in you large enough to be filled by another love. Everybody wins!

Now, a note about this deck. I'll be using it again, but in case I don't mention it, the card stock is to die for. It's like the stock for the Wild Unknown. All the imagery is original, non-traditional. I don't see any links or information about a lwb, but for me, the cards are pretty intuitive. And, the clincher, it comes in a lovely etched wooden box! For an independently printed deck, it's a bargain. I rarely feel this kind of enthusiasm upon receiving a deck. So if it looks like you'd dig it, buy it. It's an LE, so don't let it pass you by. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12/20/13—Thinking Outside the Bun

Today's Draw: Coffin Full of Tacos Full of Snakes from the Arcane Bullshit deck. Do you mind being mocked? If you read tarot, do you rely more heavily on intuition or on learned symbols and meanings? What does this card say to you?

Arcane Bullshit is a deck that basically mocks the things some tarotists hold dear—their arcane knowledge and symbology. If tarot cards seem mysterious and/or random and/or "a whole bunch of crap to memorize" to someone who doesn't read, trust me, it's just gets worse from there. There are people who can tell you what even the tiniest, barely visible elements of a RWS or Thoth deck mean and symbolize. It can be enough to cause someone to roll their eyes and create a deck with random card names and images just to poke fun at all the meaning we find in drawings. And that's just what some dude named Evan did. 

I have to apologize because, although I've chatted with Evan a few times, I didn't interview him and ask specific questions. I'm just extrapolating on what was said, as I extrapolate on what I see in the tarot every day here in this blog. So I apologize in advance if I've got this wrong. But I don't think Evan knows a whole lot about tarot or oracles. Rather he's got a great sense of humor, an artistic ability and, well, he's just creative. Which is why he made this deck. And, before I continue, full disclosure is that Evan did me a solid and I said I'd write about his deck again. Extra full disclosure was that I was going to use his deck again anyway, even if he hadn't done me that favor. :P

All that said, OMG, this deck is funny. It's 49 cards with titles such as "The", "Look at this Fucking Hourglass", "The All-Seeing Slice", "Pit Bull Driving a Tiny Truck", "Dildo Wizard Crucifixion" and my personal favorite, "Knees". They mean nothing. They're random. And therein lies the giggly pleasure of owning them. Looking at them, I'm reminded of the first time I saw tarot and thought it was "a system of made-up imagery and words that are seething with intense mystical potency" as Evan describes his deck as being (albeit with tongue in cheek.) 

Then, after I memorized all 78 tarot cards, I realized Evan was wrong. There's a method to the madness. Then when I learned to get out of my head and intuit tarot, I realized Evan was half right. I mean, somebody made this stuff up. Somebody decided the images would be the way they are. Whether it was the creator of the Sola Busca or Arthur Waite or Aleister Crowley, someone came up with meaningful visual cues and card meanings. And someone expanded on that with their interpretations. And somewhere along the lines, a bunch of someones decided none of that would ever change and anyone who thought differently would be wrong, while other someones said "screw this arcane bullshit, I'm going to do a deck based entirely on my imagery and interpretations." It's kind of like the Bible and religion in that regard. And great debates break out over something that was ultimately made up by somebody who decided they could tell fortunes using a deck of playing cards. Random. Yet now considered sacred and beyond question. 

Ultimately, I'm guessing that's what Evan had in his mind when he created this deck. It's a parody of sorts. And yet, what I and anyone who's ever had a good tarot reading will tell you, it works. The random arcane bullshit works. It works if you memorize the cards. It works if you ascribe to all the arcane symbolism. And it works if you just talk off the top of your head, maybe incorporating intended meanings and maybe not. It works because, ultimately, it's a tool. A prop, of sorts, to either trigger your innate symbolic nerd or your innate psychic self (or, most of the time, both) to access that part of you that already knows the answer. It's like a key that unlocks the door to a mystical power possessed by all humans that can't be measured or proven, but is nonetheless there. 

And what does it have to do with a coffin full of tacos full of snakes? Well, the psychic arts are like layers of an onion. And the further you go into yourself and train yourself to listen and hear, the more detail you get. What looks like a simple coffin turns out to be a coffin full of tacos. And when you look closer, those tacos are full of snakes. Some may be highly gifted and go deep right off the bat. But most of us study for years, peeling layer by layer off.

This "layered onion" thing applies for all such phenomena, whether it's card reading or bone throwing or talking to dead people. On the surface, it's all "WTF?" But there *is* something to it. And just as I'm reading coffin/tacos/snakes as layers of an onion today, tomorrow it might occur to me that it means trust your intuition (in the sense that upon seeing the coffin, you thought "no", but opened it anyway to the delight of seeing tacos, but then it turned out they were full of snakes. So you should have trusted your intuition.) Or I might decide it's about heartbreak because of the upside down heart on the coffin and how all my beloved tacos have become snake-ridden. Or I might see that heart as a mouth with the circles above as eyes and decide that it's about chaos, because the face I see is stressed. 

So Evan, in creating a made-up system filled with arcane bullshit, actually created something that can be read. Something, dare I say, with depth. Proving once again, that pretty much anything can be read...haha...whether it's clouds, a stain on our shirt or spots on a pig. But what's nice about this deck is that, for a reader, it challenges that intuitive part of you that doesn't have to work so hard when it has book meanings and memorized symbology to fall back on. I'm sure this whole entry will just serve to flatter and amuse a mocker of something I hold dear. But I have a high mock tolerance. And because it makes me stronger and better at something I enjoy, I'm all for it. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12/19/13—Telling the Truth

Today's Draw Classic*: Queen of Swords from the Infinite Visions Tarot. What's your policy when it comes to honesty? Do you have a policy or do you just wing it? Do you believe absolute truth exists?

The Queen of Swords cuts to the heart of issues. She tells it like it is. But her sword cuts two ways. Her truths can sometimes lack temperance and heart, as she speaks mostly from her mind. 

Some people are like the Queen of Swords—honest to a fault. Some are pathological liars. Some will say whatever is needed to avoid conflict. And most of us fall somewhere in between.

I've walked my own path with this. I consider myself a pretty honest person. But I do believe there are times for honesty. I didn't used to. But I do now. You can call it "times for" honesty...or you can think of it as "degrees of" honesty. 

Over the years, I've learned that some people that ask for the truth, don't really want to hear it. I've also learned that volunteering the truth when not asked isn't a wise move. And then there are the times with certain drama queens, when told the truth, will never let you hear the end of it. For those kinds of people, life's easier when you tell as much of the truth as possible, without inflaming. 

So now my policy is this—eradicate drama queens from my sphere, along with the drama I create myself. Both those situations court dishonesty and I'm done with them as much as I can possibly be. Second, I no longer volunteer honesty to people who aren't asking for it. That's just a mistake. And, finally when people DO ask for honesty, I deliver it as kindly as possible. And if they don't like it, I don't allow myself to be manipulated to feel bad about it. Most people who know me know better than to ask for the truth if they don't want to hear it. But moreover, most people who know me are people who want to hear the truth, because that's the kind of person I like to be around. 

Now I'm not going to say I never lie. Even with a "policy", you still have gauge a situation. But you can pretty much count on me to tell the truth. Even with the really heavy stuff. IF you ask. And when a client comes to me for a reading, they're always going to get the truth. Sometimes they don't want to hear it. Sometimes they fight it. But that's what they're paying me for, imo. 

All that said, I think the truth is subjective. My truth about something may not be your truth. Even something as simple as "the sky is blue" can be argued by a colorblind person or a scientist who wants to discuss wavelengths and other things that affect the way we perceive the color of the sky. So I do think we need to consider the subjective nature of truth when it comes to assessing the honesty of others.

All told, I feel like I've always been a pretty honest person. But I believe honesty is a vehicle you need to learn to drive. You shouldn't drive it uncontrollably. You shouldn't use it as a weapon. Nor should you drive it into the ground. You have to treat it with the respect it deserves.

*From a post on 7/12/11

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12/18/13—Enjoying the Fruits of LIfe

Today's Draw Classic*: The Four of Wands from the Oracle Tarot by Lucy Cavendish. You work, you take care of your responsibilities, but do you ever stop long enough to just enjoy life? Do you ever, on a beautiful day, just sit in the hammock and do nothing? If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would that be?

The Four of Wands is traditionally about celebration or some sacred or happy event. Usually there has been an initial victory or win of some sort. We know more work is on the way, but now is a time to honor that win. This card holds true to that meaning, but also adds a different flavor to it. Lucy Cavendish calls it "Recharge Your Hopes". As you reach a goal or end of a life stage, your instinct may be to move on to the next thing. But this cards tells you to take time to honor what you've accomplished, instead. And while you're taking the time, use it rest and reinvigorate, too. Celebrate. And relax. You can think of your next goals when you return. Now is the time to recharge your hopes.

Somewhere along the line we got this idea that we always have to be doing or producing. We become so caught up in our day to day lives that we totally neglect the sweet nectar we work so hard to enjoy. We spend Sundays worrying about Monday. We go on vacations and cram them full of a "to do" list. Or we go get a massage and, while laying there, tick off all the other things we have to accomplish that day. We lose ourselves in work five days a week....for what? Yeah, yeah...possessions are nice. But when do we ever lose ourselves in relaxation and enjoyment? When do we ever let go enough to be right in the present moment?

I had a yoga teacher many years ago who would start each class by saying "put your to-do list and worries aside. For the next hour, there's nothing you can do about them anyway. They will be waiting for you when you leave. But this time is just for yoga." What he was saying was to be in the moment. Because that's the only place where rejuvenation begins. So many people *think* they live in the moment because they're doing a million things at once. But if you're thinking of the next thing you need to do or your child's science project that's due next week or something someone said to you yesterday, you're not in the moment. You'll know you're in the moment when you're so absorbed by the task at hand that the concept of time completely slips away. 

Being in the moment while picking up a prescription at the drug store can feel like a vacation in itself, compared to the usual clusterfarq we usually have going on in our mind. But what if...and I know this is a stretch...what if we were actually in the moment when we were doing something we LOVE? Every once in a while I have to stop myself and say "what do you do all this for anyway?" When we did we become worker ants instead of queen bees? Is it a holdover from the days we had to hunt and forage and scrape for survival? What is the point of the lovely house, the weekend getaway and all the stuff if we are never "present" to enjoy it?

I'm getting together with an amazing group of ladies this weekend*, all of whom share my loves of tarot and the outdoors. Our big plan? To giggle. Nothing more. Well, we're going to do a ceremony. But mostly, I think, we'll giggle. Whether it's for an hour or the entire weekend, what do you have planned where you can just relax, enjoy and be in the moment? And don't say "an hour? What do you think I am, a princess?" Trust me, the dusting can wait another week. Really, it can. Instead, what can you do to relax, clear your mind and just....enjoy?

*Originally written on 5/12/11

Monday, December 16, 2013

12/17/13—Walking the Hermit's Path

Today's Draw: The Hermit from the Portland Tarot by Theresa Pridemore (with a book co-written by Jamie Morris). How do you define the difference between spirituality and religion? How much of what you believe is learned from a source like a priest or guru and how was learned by just you, acting alone? Have you found it hard to maintain some relationships as you've walked further and further down your spiritual path?

I have a confession. I had looked at the Portland Tarot online a few times and it just didn't appeal to me. Not knowing the companion book was co-written by one of my Facebook friends, Jamie Morris, I decided not to buy it. But then Jamie asked me if she could send me a deck as a gift. Now having received it and seen it in person, I like the Portland Tarot. Much more than I anticipated! It looked "computer collage" to me, which is a look I'm not into, especially if it's done poorly. And you don't usually get a feel for that until the deck is in your hands. But while this deck is still something I would consider computer collage (if that's even a term...I just mean images layered on top of other images) it's really well done. Whether it was the mood I was in while viewing them or whatever, now that I have it in my hands, I like it a lot. 

The guide book is very substantial and the description for the Hermit conjured up many thoughts for me, which is always appreciated. I've been writing this blog for over three years now. This marks the 10th time I've written a blog post about the Hermit. You know, you kind of run out of things to say after the first half dozen page-long posts...haha. But the book's description of the card and its meaning sparked many thoughts for me. 

The entry identifies the Hermit as a spiritual teacher of sorts. He's gone within and learned many things and is ready to share those things. But the book goes on to say, "while we can emulate the Hermit's path, we cannot walk his path. We must find our own way...It's a journey no one can travel with us."

One of my many unwritten books is called, "Ten Things the Spiritual Gurus Never Tell You" and this card touches on two of them in one way or another. One of the things is just like it says above, we can learn from the path our gurus or others have walked and we can adopt some of the lessons they learned along that path, but ultimately we can't look outside of ourselves for what we believe. The answers we seek to the questions we ask reside within us and we have to find a way to ferret them out on our own. 

If you want someone to tell you what to believe, turn to organized religion. But if you really want to know the higher power, you have to seek it alone. That's what spirituality is by MY definition...the things you believe in based not on what you're told, but based on your personal experience through communion with the higher power. Those things may not entirely mesh with what is taught through organized religion. Some people choose to only consider what is taught by their pastor. Some choose to only consider what they know inside them to be true. And some, of course, choose a bit of both—a dose of religion followed by a chaser of spirituality. 

Religion is easy—go to church, listen, believe. But spirituality is harder. For the religious, it can cause discomfort if one adopts a belief along their path that is not supported by their church. And for everyone, it's difficult because, no matter what techniques and practices you learn, if you're doing it "right", then you're feeling around in the dark and relying on your personal take on things, rather than the teachings of another. I mean, the teachings of another can help, don't get me wrong. But eventually you're going to bump up against a teaching that doesn't sit right for you and you're going to have to find the answers yourself. 

So that's one thing. The other is the part about going it alone. While religion is something you do in an organized manner that you share with many others, the spiritual path is solitary. Your experience of it is unique. And as we've all come to learn in life, what you believe and what you follow can draw a line in the sand with relationships at home and in your community. Also, the further you go down your path, you're bound to find less in common with some people as you did before. Shedding old layers of yourself sometimes mean shedding relationships, too...or at least minimizing relationships that were once strong. 

With each layer shed, you'll find new people to share with, but it can be a very solitary path, especially if it becomes central to your life. So the solitary nature of spirituality lies not just in having singular beliefs, but in walking alone in places along your path and losing things that were once important to you. 

So that's what the Hermit came to us to tell us today. And one part of the Hermit's path, imo, is to keep your mind open. I almost had the door closed on the Portland Tarot and I'm glad it got reopened for me. Now just a majors-only deck, it's slated to grow into a full-sized deck over time, so check it out. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

12/16/13—Moving the Needle

Today's Draw: Four of Wands from the Greenwood Tarot. How have the situations and people you love changed your life? How different would your life be today if the most beloved person in your life had never been born? Are you capable of holding a loving space in your heart for the least beloved in your life that's as big and fluffy as the one you hold for the most loving?

Last Thursday we talked about being grateful, really just for being human and getting to touch, taste, feel, smell, see and hear. I just had an image of Ironman pop into my head. You know how his suit flies out of nowhere to lock around his body, conforming to every curve? And the suit gives him super powers? Well, our bodies do the same thing for our souls. Our bodies give our souls superpowers with which to experience this incredible planet and way of living. 

Today's draw is about showing gratitude for the more mundane things that make up a life—home, health, family, friends and the elements. The card is titled "Celebration". At times like Thanksgiving and Christmas we acknowledge these things and then most of us take them for granted the rest of the year. 

The movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" tells the story of George Bailey, who is shown what life would be like if he'd never been born. You'd pretty much have to be raised in a box full of lemurs to not be familiar with the story. It shows the impact each ordinary, everyday human being has on the world around them. Most of the stuff George was shown was stuff anyone might do, normal stuff that nonetheless changed the lives of everyone around him. 

We can't really do that for ourselves, because it would require stepping outside of ourselves and seeing how we've impacted others. We really have no clue. But what we CAN do is look at the people and things in our lives and see how they've impacted us. How has a friend changed your life simply by being? What has a neighbor opened your eyes to? How has your spouse positively impacted your life? 

And while we're at it, what challenges has your house brought out for you? What has your current job taught you? What does it mean to live in the country you live in? 

Twenty years ago I bought a convertible to complement the part of me that loves the wind in my hair and across my face. It's a little Honda del Sol. And it is so much fun to drive. It rarely leaves its parking space today, because I have another car that I drive most of the time. But I don't get rid of the Honda for a number of reasons. One of them is the sheer joy I feel when I get behind the wheel. I've had accidents in this car and gotten tickets. It's got a number of quirks. It's not "like new" by any stretch of the imagination. But it never fails to put a smile on my face. And I am incredibly grateful for that. 

And that's what the Four of Wands has come to ask us today—to take time to acknowledge and be grateful for the people and things that make up this life of yours. To ask yourself, "how would I be different if this person, thing or situation had never come into my life?" 

If you want to earn Spiritual Awesomeness Extra Credit Points®, then after you're done really considering every beloved element of your life, consider the more neutral elements. And then the things you don't like. This is how Buddhist Metta or Loving Kindness meditations are done. Recently I've been struck as to how tightly people like to hold on to their hates and grudges. It's a recent observation, because it's only recently that I've let go and learned how to start putting them down myself...haha. But doing my first Loving Kindness meditation maybe as much as 10 years ago opened my eyes to the release this practice brings. 

Basically, you visualize encountering the person you love most and genuinely opening your heart to embrace them and wish them well. Then you do the same for the next most beloved person. Then someone you just kinda love. Then someone neutral. Then someone who's an adversary. It can get quite emotional as you observe the pains and resentments you hold as you struggle to find the same love in your heart for someone you dislike. The payoff, though is freedom. Also, I'm someone who thinks there are more constructive ways of solving conflict than war and murder. And I had to ask myself, "how can I expect entire countries to explore more peaceful ways to resolve conflict if I can't even do it myself in regards to my own relatively petty disputes? Am I willing to continue being part of the problem?" 

There's a lot to learn and be grateful for every which way we turn. But we don't get the effect if we phone it in or just don't do the work. I feel like society in general keeps hitting up against a wall in our collective spiritual evolution because, as a collective, we're not willing to give up our hates and resentments. We want to even scores and exact revenge. 

Remember how records used to skip? Your favorite song would reach a certain point and then skip in the same place over and over again until you would manually move the needle? That's where I see humans in our spiritual evolution. Skipping over and over again because nobody wants to stop proving their point long enough to move the needle. My first Metta meditation was hard and there were years between, but now I'm trying to get to the other side of the skipping needle to experience the part of life's song I never got to before. 

It begins easily enough with loving the lovers. Then the "eh" people, situations and things. But the record doesn't stop skipping until you take the challenge to soften and open your heart to those people and things that cause you pain and genuinely wish them a happy life. People without personal or spiritual awareness are less likely to be the first to move the needle. So it's up to us. Are you wiling to lead others to the other side through your example?