I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Monday, December 31, 2012

What am I Walking Toward?

A member of the Aeclectic Tarot forum who keeps our "Deck of the Week" thread up and running (Elendil), encouraged us to have at go at a New Year's spread he found on Prince Lenormand's blog.  Today, I draw a card asking, "What am I walking toward?"  Tomorrow I will ask the question, "What am I leaving behind?"  For today's question, from the Daniloff Tarot comes Force/Strength:
 The "force" in this card is not the kind engendered by fear (the serpent in the arch) or by clout (the muscle man in the arch), but more akin to "The Force" of the Star Wars series.  As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."  In other words, it is a power that is used for the good of all to bring harmony rather than division.  In the Daniloff image, a woman sits on the lion, reminding me of many images of Buddhist bodhisattvas (such as Manjusri above) shown sitting on lions or dragons.  The beasts represent taming the mind and the ego; courage, patience and compassion become more important than my selfish desires.  I am happy to have chosen this card for the first question, yet I know I'm not Alice in Wonderland - there will be no magic cookie to eat or potion to drink to "become" this way.  The only way I'll develop this virtue is to practice it when faced with people or situations that make me want to fight or flee.

From the Kuan Yin Oracle comes stick #31, "Advice from a Good Spirit:"
Your life unfolds enjoyably and comfortably.
Drink a cup of fine tea after dinner!
You are protected from sorrow and poverty.
Perhaps a good spirit will bestow her valuable advice on you!
The message of this poem reminds me that life is smoother when I relax and stop trying to do something about everything.  True, there are things may I need to do, but I'm not required to control, manipulate or react.  The second part reminds me to listen to that "still small voice" inside rather than the loud shrieking and screaming of my ego.  It is there I will find the "valuable advice" that does not seek to fight or flee.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Proceed at the Pace of Guidance

From the Daniloff Tarot, the Seven of Coins:
In a field a farmer pauses, resting on a tree and propped up by the handles of his hoe and shovel.  The Seven of Coins is a time of assessment and generally requires two things to be useful: stillness and objectivity.  It's easy to keep busy and stay distracted from what is actually growing in my fields.  I only get a good look at the fruits of my labor when I can stop long enough to truly focus.  But once I take that look, I must look as an outsider would, such as a potential buyer at a farmer's market.  Does the produce appear ripe and healthy or undernourished and plagued by pests?  The coin by his right foot looks rather plain, as if it hasn't had time to mature.  Am I rushing headlong into the harvest without waiting for the fruit to mature?  In this pause as I evaluate what I have cultivated, I must decide what is working and what needs to be changed.

From the Kuan Yin Oracle comes stick #68, "Spring Days:"
When spring comes
and the days grow longer,
the flowers bloom more and more luxuriously.
All is set free at last.
This poem speaks of a future event - spring - in which good things come to pass.  Taken with the card above, I see it as a message to be patient and to keep hoeing my field.  Dumping tons of fertilizer in order to rush the process won't do any good, it will just cause harm.  As a friend of mine is fond of saying, "Move at the speed of guidance." 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lessons and Advice

This week I'll be using a self-published tarot deck created by Alexander Daniloff and appropriately called the Daniloff Tarot.  Today's draw is the Five of Coins:
What makes this tarot even more interesting is that some of the characters appear to be puppets - check out the pins in the joints of their arms and legs.  But if these are puppets, where are the strings?  What controls them?  For that I must look to the number and suit of each card, in this case the Five of Coins.  Lack of resources, both health and financial seem to be playing a part here.  But the characters seem to have their faces intentionally turned away from the warmth and security represented by the building/institution behind them.  Does their pride or judgment keep them from going inside?  This card reminds me that I often don't get to choose where my help and support will come from, and sometimes there is a lesson in tolerance and acceptance as well as being willing to grasp the hand extended to me.

The oracle I'll be using this week is one based on the 100 Poems of Kuan Yin, attributed to the Bodhisattva of Compassion.  I have 100 bamboo sticks that are numbered to correspond to each of the poems; the book I'll be using to translate the poems is the Kuan Yin Oracle by Stephen Karcher.  This morning's chosen stick was #79 and relates to the poem "Go Your Own Way:"
Do only what is real.
Plans that aren't real are doomed to disaster.
Each person has his or her own principle,
so don't be influenced by other people's bad advice.
The message of this poem is twofold: first, get out of my head and back on firm ground; second, listen to my intuition or Higher Self rather than blindly following what other people think I should be doing.  In pairing this message with the tarot card above, I see that while I might have some problems to deal with, I have available resources to draw from for help.  Self-pity doesn't look pretty, no matter what Crayola color I use on it.  But perhaps the greatest resource (and one I constantly forget) is the well of wisdom within, whose advice is purer and infinitely more beneficial than that from my ego.  Time to get reacquainted with reality...

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Right Road

From the Granny Jones Tarot, Temperance:
Temperance makes me consider the middle path rather than one extreme or the other - it is a path of moderation.  What caught my eye in this image is the cat looking at itself in the mirror.  It makes me reflect on the irony of reading some sort of self-help book about character defects and instantly thinking "I know someone who acts just like that" instead of considering my own behavior.  The first step to walking that middle path is realizing the path I'm on now.

From the Button Oracle comes "Arjuna:"
"If you can think about a situation, you can deal with it. The big struggle is to keep your head clear enough to think." ~ Richard Pryor
    Arjuna, a unrivaled archer, was reluctant to take part in the battle of the Kurukshetra war because he knew he would be expected to potentially kill the enemy, which included many of his own relatives. He was persuaded by his charioteer and close friend, Lord Krishna, to change his mind. Their dialogue about Arjuna's inner and outer conflicts formed the subject of the Bhagavad Gita.  If I can take Krishna's advice and choose selflessness while avoiding attachment, I think I'll be headed down the right road.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

He was a Good Boy

He had been found in the woods, left there when he was a one-year-old until he was rescued by the Humane Society. They figured he had been sold as a Jack Russell, but as he grew the owners quickly saw he was a mixed mutt and dumped him. When we first met him, he was cowering in the back of a small cage that also held two larger dogs. He seemed scared but sweet. We adopted him and soon found that he needed a large backyard like ours to run in because he had two speeds: wide open and asleep. Because of his bouncy, energetic personality, we named him Popcorn. He came with some baggage we discovered... When we left for school and work, he thought we were abandoning him. He shredded welcome mats, the seats and handlebars on a bicycle, newspapers, whatever he could find to deal with his stress. But eventually he figured out that we would always come home again, and his destructive behavior stopped. He LOVED balls, particularly the large, soft kind like you can find at the grocery store as well as tennis balls. He would chase them for hours, never seeming to tire. He also had plenty of "hunter" in him, and would chase anything in the yard, particularly squirrels. Once I found a possum in a death pose he had gone after; I soon discovered that it wasn't dead but only in a trance - I don't know who was more surprised, me or him! He was also my daily walking companion as we explored the neighborhood through each of the seasons. At 16, he was on multiple daily medications and in constant pain. He stopped chasing balls and squirrels; our walks became more painful than pleasurable. He was suffering... This morning we took him to the vet, who put him to sleep while I held him in my arms. Popcorn was a good boy and I will miss him terribly.

Daring Adventures

From the Granny Jones Tarot, the Three of Wands:
In the Two of Wands, a decision is made whether to maintain the status quo or expand efforts in new directions.  Expansion has been chosen in the Three of Wands, as shown by these travelers on their way to a city in the distance.  But just because someone's ambitions get them moving, it doesn't mean he or she doesn't need some help along the way.  In this image, perhaps the robed man tells them the exact streets to take to reach their destination and who they might talk to once there to get the information they need.  This card reminds me that there's no harm in asking for advice and suggestions from someone knowledgeable; it could save me from wasted time and frustrations in the long run.

From the Button Oracle comes the "Viking Ship:"
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." ~ Helen Keller
Vikings were the great sailors of their day; these bold risk-takers sailed most of the North Atlantic, and reached the Americas several hundred years before Christopher Columbus was even born.  For three turbulent centuries, the glimpse of a square sail and dragon-headed prow on the horizon struck terror into the hearts of medieval Europeans.  I have no desire to terrorize anyone, but this button does encourage me to take a step out of my cozy cocoon.  The insecurity of the unknown is worth experiencing for the "daring adventure" on the other side.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's a New Day

From the Granny Jones Tarot, the Page of Wands:

Yeah here we are still goin' strong
Right here in the place where we belong...
It's a new world, it's a new start
~ Bryan Adams Here I Am
It's a new day, and this happy young fellow has set off down the road to learn and report about something exciting.  I envy his enthusiasm and eagerness; I've felt a bit dead inside of late, going through the motions of daily life.  I'm ready to live instead of just exist.  I want to jump out of bed in the morning ready to make new discoveries that open my mind and heart.  We had quite a storm roll through the South last night; I lay awake waiting to see if I needed to wake my family and move them to a safe room in case of a tornado.  Thankfully, all we got was lots of rain and high winds.  This morning the sky is clearing and everything has been washed clean - a new start indeed.

From the Button Oracle comes the "Honey Bee:"
"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” ~ Albert Einstein
Like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, I wonder how my thinking would change if I realized the small ways my life impacted others.  I'm sure most people are like me, believing their day to day existence doesn't have much bearing on the rest of the world.  But like the single bee that gathers pollen, those individual efforts produce something very sweet and worthwhile.  Maybe each person does have a significant niche to fill.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fishing Lines

From the Granny Jones Tarot, the Seven of Swords:
Granny doesn't leave much to the imagination with this image.  She covers all the bases: people stealing ideas, someone pretending to be sincere, and Granny herself being stabbed in the back.  But what this card made me think of was how often I use those daggers on my own self, by telling people what I think they want to hear.  I don't mean trying to be tactful rather than brutally honest, but deliberately choosing not to say what I think for fear it may upset someone's apple cart.  There's a fine line between keeping the peace and burying the truth.

From the Button Oracle comes "Fishing:"
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
~ Thoreau
In tying this button in with the card above, I thought of the phrase "fishing for compliments."  Is this a self-esteem issue, or is it like a friend often states: "I'm not much but I'm all I think about"?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rough Waves Ahead

From the Granny Jones Tarot, the Three of Swords:
 Drawing this card today wasn't a big surprise.  My 16 year old dog, Popcorn, is getting frailer by each day.  We got this part Jack Russell/part shadow in the night from the Humane Society.  He had so much energy (thus his name); thank goodness for a large backyard!  He's had a heart problem for the past several years, but now as he's aged he's developed other problems that require lots of medication.  He no longer chases balls or squirrels (once a favorite activity), but he has always looked forward to his daily walks - until yesterday.  I could tell the walk was more of an effort than a pleasure; the ground we might normally have covered in 5 minutes took half an hour.  I know that he will leave us soon, but I don't want him to suffer.  If necessary, we will involve the vet to make his passing as painless as possible, though my hope is that he will go to sleep without us having to make that trip.

From the Button Oracle the "Anchor:"
"Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure." ~ Meister Eckhart
    An anchor typically has broad, hook-like arms that bury themselves in the bottom to provide a firm hold.  The anchor prevents a ship from drifting away due to the water currents or tide and offers protection from weather conditions.  This button is a reminder for me to take out the spiritual tools I have and use them as the emotional stress of the holiday and caring for Popcorn rock my boat.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Diversity and Zippers

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Two of Cups:
Two Siamese cats watch the sun set on the horizon; behind them two mugs hang from hooks.  The two cups are a reminder that in a true partnership, neither person is swallowed up by the other.  My husband and I have dissimilar personalities and do things very differently, but we have a commitment based on kindness and respect for each other.  We've never been much of a "What do you want to do / Whatever you want to do" sort of couple.  Yet seeing from such diverse perspectives produces a more complete vision, offers more solutions, and generates a variety of options that one individual may not stumble upon.   When we work together, we are a force to be reckoned with. 

From the Button Oracle comes "Zipper:"
"The one who cannot restrain their anger will wish undone, what their temper and irritation prompted them to do." ~ Horace
The B.F. Goodrich Co. was the first to use this new-fangled closure in 1923 on rubber boots.  They dubbed it with the name "zipper;" it would be twenty more years before the garment industry would make serious use of it.  This button reminds me that just because I have an opinion that is different from someone else doesn't mean I have to force it upon someone else.  Will the world stop spinning or life end because I don't prove to another that I'm right and they're wrong?  Sometimes the best thing I can do for the peace and goodwill of all is to keep my lips zipped.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ventures and Rest Spots

This week I'll be using the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, created by Rebecca Jones.  This morning's draw is the Knight of Wands:
A vardo-type wagon heads eastward toward the rising sun.  This knight (who obviously is driving the wagon) reminds me of the old proverb, "A rolling stone gathers no moss."  His desire for adventure and challenge keep him free from too many obligations or cares.  In some respects, his life is simple - how much stuff could a person fit into that house on wheels other than the basics?  His "rolling" status also keeps him from creative stagnation.  The two posts along the road are a nod to the Two of Wands; he has chosen to walk through that "doorway," and eagerly embraced the unknown before him.  This knight reminds me that although the unfamiliar might be a little scary, it can also lead to a lot of fun.

The oracle I'll be using this week is one I've made myself from a collection of metal buttons, surprisingly called the Button Oracle.  Today's button is "Oasis:"
"Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul."
~ Christopher Forrest McDowell
An oasis is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source. Oases also provide habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough.  The location of oases has been of critical importance for trade and transportation routes in desert areas, as they allowed supplies of food and water to be replenished.  The oasis button encourages me to have a refuge or safe haven, a place I can go to rest and refuel not only my body but my spirit as well.  Even the Knight of Wands has to take a break every now and then.

Friday, December 21, 2012

From Fear to Love

From the Golden Tarot, the Eight of Wands:
Eight wands fly through the air, one with a message attached; they point downward as they race towards their destination.  A pheasant, a solar bird for the Chinese, seems to follow them.  Tonight is the winter solstice, the darkest night of the year, and I'll be traveling and gathering with other companions for a wheel ceremony under the stars.  There will be much reflection as well as celebration; though the temperatures will be below freezing, our hearts will warmed by the fellowship.  I found this excerpt of a speech given by Bolivian President Evo Morales to the UN and felt it was appropriate for today: 
"...according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism & the beginning of collectivism…­The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred & the beginning of love. The end of lies & the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness & the beginning of joy. It is the end of division & the beginning of unity."

From the Yantra Deck comes "Compassion - embracing all beings:"
This is another version of the Sri Yantra that shows man's spiritual journey from separation to unity.  The authors describe it as a "shift from fear to love."  Most people are exposed to the idea that we should love one another, but often this doesn't include the earth and its natural residents.  I've been getting a weekly email from Spirituality & Health, and today's included a quote by Scott Russell Sanders that seemed especially relevant to the topic of compassion:
"The Hubble photos increased our estimate of the number of galaxies fivefold, from ten to fifty billion, and thereby also dramatically increased our estimate for the odds of life having evolved elsewhere. Measured against all those worlds, all that potential life, what do eagles and owls and ferns matter? Why would it matter if they disappeared, not only from my neighborhood but everywhere? The most immediate and personal answer is that, if they were gone, I would grieve. Quite aside from their roles in the web of life, they are companions and teachers; they are unique expressions of the beauty that suffuses the whole of Creation. Asking what good are eagles and owls, or ebony spleenworts, or black-footed ferrets, or snaildarters, or any other of our fellow travelers, is like asking what good are brothers and sisters, or children, or friends. Such questions arise only in the absence of love."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One Step at a Time

From the Golden Tarot, the Nine of Swords:
I dislike seeing a man in this card not because I don't think men worry, but because behind most men there is a woman planning, making preparations and doing.  Sexist?  Probably, but here in my household I'm the one responsible for making the holidays happen.  Now that it's holiday "crunch time," my tone of voice is short, and I've developed a twitch in my eye.  But I know what to do... I go for a long walk.  I tell the committee in my head to take a break, and I let all my senses loose in the natural world to occupy my brain with something besides mental gymnastics.  It's like taking a deep breath with my mind...

From the Yantra Deck comes "Vision - creating beauty:"
The Kamakala Yantra shows a lingum (the masculine) surrounded by 16 yonis (the feminine).  The "vision" here is not necessarily of dancing sugarplums, but the imagination being combined with the intellect that will allow the physical manifestation of something.  Unfortunately with creation there are no short-cuts or magic wands.  Like my daily walks, I must take one step at a time toward my objective.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Life is a Special Occasion

From the Golden Tarot, the King of Coins:
A gray-haired king stands at his writing desk pondering how he'll put that coin in his hand to use.  This is a man who is wise and successful, yet he generously offers his wisdom and resources to help others.  The hourglass on his desk represents his understanding that life is short and material possessions come and go.  Though he is discerning in his investments, he also knows that what you have is useless if you don't enjoy it.  He's not one to postpone trips for relaxation, put off a creative idea, or only use the china for special occasions.  He may be a good steward, but he's going to immerse himself in the sensual side of life too.

From the Yantra Deck comes "Bliss - being one:"
Dove's ad designers tempt us to believe their chocolates are bliss, but I think the gist of this card revolves around a more lasting spiritual joy.  The Sri Yantra is made up of nine interlocking triangles that radiate from a central point (bindu), the connection between the physical universe and its unmanifest source.  The nine triangles form a web of 43 individual triangles and symbolize the entire cosmos.  I often forget that I am a part of that web, a part of a greater whole.  When I remember that connection, I can find my bliss, even as my world changes with physical comings and goings.  Of course a bag of dark chocolates might help too...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pecking Order - Setting Priorities

From the Golden Tarot, the Eight of Coins:
Eight has twice the solidity of four, so in the Eight of Coins there is an ordering of priorities and an intense focus based on developing skills.  I like the inclusion of the woodpecker sitting by the window; I had the chance to watch one this past spring work on a nesting hole in a pine that had been struck by lightning.  He actually worked on several areas, making small cavities by chipping away with his beak.  But finally he decided on one in particular, and spent the rest of the morning digging it out in hopes of raising a family there.  His tenacity and hard work was impressive and reminded me that anything worth cultivating comes with perseverance and effort.

From the Yantra Deck comes "Generosity - giving:"
The authors ask the question, "Where do I hold back?"  They suggest that by being generous and giving to myself, I will find my cup overflows with plenty to share with others.  Giving from a mindset of lack versus a mindset of gratitude results in two very different types of gifts.  One expresses obligation, the other affection and kindness.  When I constantly put everyone's priorities ahead of my own, I feel the since of lack.  But when I feel my needs are important too, and make time for them, I can share with a heart full of love.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Messages to be Delivered

From the Golden Tarot, the Knight of Wands:
Once again, art imitates life.  I spent yesterday and last night working on some homemade cards to send to a few special people.  And today I have them packaged and addressed, ready to make a run to the post office.  Seeing the message on this knight's wand made me smile because he has a memo and a mission too, that he's eager to take to others.  Of course I'll have to watch out for his impatience once I hit the long lines at the post office...

From the Yantra Deck comes "Blessing - receiving:"
This yantra painting is associated with Shakti, the receptive feminine.  In the deck's companion booklet, there is a quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a woman known for her work with death and dying: "Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything has a purpose.  There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from."  It is usually with hindsight that I see how something good came from an unfortunate or frustrating situation.  I'll try to keep this in mind at the post office; there might just be a stranger who has something I need to hear...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Timing is Everything

From the Golden Tarot, the Ace of Swords:
I got up this morning thinking about how I could communicate with a few people for whose presence in my life I am grateful but rarely take the time to tell them.  I had an idea how I could do this (if I can find some spare time) that would have my creative stamp on it.  When I drew this particular card I couldn't help but laugh.  The sword indicates the potential of my idea and the sprig of greenery symbolizes the creative side of things.  The tiny crown around the blade reminds me of those charms people put on glasses at parties to show who's drink is who's - and just happens to perfectly represent the signature of my last name.  The wit and timing of tarot cards can be amusing.

From the Yantra Deck comes "Peace - being surrendered:"
Surrendering means something completely different to me than simply giving up.  It shows the wisdom of knowing what I have control over and what I don't.  I can waste time, energy, and peace of mind trying to change people or situations that won't change through any effort of mine, or I can accept what is and move on.  Today I feel that push to get many things done - fulfill needs and obligations as well as doing what will fulfill me.  As the winter solstice approaches, when all the rest of nature begins slowing down, it seems like I speed up preparing for the holidays.  Since the earth has been around much longer than me, maybe I should take a few hints from her.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chaining My Cheetah

This week I'll be using the Golden Tarot, created by Kat Black.  Today's draw is the High Priestess:
 Dozens of such New Age authors could bring their works together into one large volume entitled, “How To Become Aware of the Depths of Your Being Without Disturbing the Routine of Your Comfortable Lifestyle.”  ~ Lew Paz
My initial thought upon drawing the High Priestess was "Know Thyself," but not the kind of knowing that has to do with intellectual analysis.  Just look at her face; she's in the "zone" and her book is closed.  The wisdom she's pulling from is deep within, way past the ego and any "how to" books.  She encourages me to "chain my cheetah" - be still, quiet my mind, and listen to my Higher Self.  While all the distractions float merrily along on the surface, deep down below I'll hear what I need to know if I'm patient and receptive.  And though it may be beneficial to me, it won't inflate my ego.  Instead, it will have the potential to alter my attitude and behavior.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Yantra Deck, created by Karl Schaffner and Maya Deva Adjani.  Today's card is "Grace - being guided:"
 In the companion book it states: "By stepping outside our ego we receive understanding and inspiration from an alternate perspective, which shows us direction and provides wisdom beyond words."  I like that "beyond words" part.  I can hear and read all sorts of suggestions, but what I need is to experience them from a source that is beyond the reach of all human ulterior motives (the High Priestess tells me how above).  As Krishnamurti said, "What will bring peace is inward transformation, which will lead to outward action. Inward transformation is not isolation, is not withdrawal from outward action. On the contrary, there can be right action only when there is right thinking and there is no right thinking when there is no self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself, there is no peace."


Friday, December 14, 2012

Standing on the Shoulders

From the Gill Tarot, the Hermit:
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. ~ Isaac Newton
Seeing this image of the Hermit from the back made me make a connection to another major arcana card - the Star.  Is it his lantern I see in the heavens when I am in that place of exhaustion and confusion, and I suddenly find healing and guidance?  I am reminded of how something has "clicked" for me by reading or hearing the words of friends, both in the physical and internet community of which I am a part.  Just a few words have created drastic shifts in my thinking and world.  Thank you my friends for shining your lights and giving me direction and hope.  May I one day stand on your shoulders and hold the lantern for another.

From The Circle deck comes "Love:"
Yesterday I drew the Five of Cups, a card of sorrow and anguish.  That evening I watched a loved one's struggle, bearing witness to her tears and frustration.  I felt my heart ache, yet there was a subtle anger underneath that wanted to say "Pull on your big girl panties and deal with it!"  But because I love her, I kept those thoughts to myself.  Love is a verb, not an emotion.  Sometimes the action of love is not to fix what is broken for another person (often impossible anyway), but to sit patiently, bear witness, and listen.  Knowing someone will stay in the boat while I ride out the rough waves can make all the difference.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Warning: Emotions without Intellect Ahead

From the Gill Tarot, the Five of Cups:
The challenge of grief and sadness shows itself in the tears and sad face of this card.  But the bright red background makes me think there is some hidden anger as well.  Whether the loss is the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a career that's come to an abrupt halt, there is something that seethes underneath the the outward expression of anguish and sorrow.  It is the role of victim that can keep me in my deep, dark hole, making me stay in the past instead of being attentive to the present.  The heart locked away inside the stem of the glass indicates using various techniques to wall off my feelings in a vain attempt at never being vulnerable again.  And in that isolation, I'll just get more of the same instead of the encouragement and support that will be my ladder out of that hole.

From The Circle comes "Caution:"
A traffic light turns yellow, warning all oncoming vehicles to slow down and prepare to stop.  Good advice for me when I am running on emotion and the logical side of my brain has taken a sabbatical.  A crash is inevitable with someone else, because I'll react instead of acting to situations, making me behave and shoot my mouth off in ways that would be out of character for me otherwise.  Time to apply the brakes...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Choose the Good Ones

From the Gill Tarot, the Ace of Swords:
From the sharp point of the sword come four feathers, representing the four elements: air/ideas, fire/ambitions, water/emotions, and earth/physical reality.  Thoughts have so much more influence over my life than I give them credit.  Some of these thoughts can have positive consequences (seeing a need and offering help) while others may be negative (thinking I might lose something and feeling fear).  I don't really have much control over the thoughts that come, but I can can choose to focus on something else if they are detrimental to my physical, mental, emotional or spiritual development.  Gill gives this card the keyword "energy," meaning the ability to do work.  It is a nudge that if my thoughts are beneficial, I still must put them into action to reap the benefits.

From The Circle deck comes "Completion:"
I've done enough backpacking in my younger days to know that reaching the top of a mountain is not as easy as it may seem.  Steep, rocky trails, copperheads and rattlesnakes, freezing rain, and poorly marked trails can cause me to rethink my goal or destination.  Is it worth all the challenges?  Again I see the influence of my thoughts - they can be my most ardent cheerleader or worst critic.  But if I'm going to reach the summit, I'm going to have to choose the good ones.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Clear or Partly Cloudy

From the Gill Tarot, the Queen of Swords:
The queen sits on her throne made of a cloud, emphasizing her rational, logical way of thinking (her head is not "in the clouds").  The alchemical vessel beside her indicates that she boils away all that is not helpful in coming to a judgment about a person or situation.  Looking at this image makes me reflect on all the ways I am influenced by internal or external sources that keep me from making sane decisions:
1) My emotions - If I love someone or a cause so dearly, I may see only their good points and none of their flaws.  Likewise if I hate something or someone, I will see only what is bad about them and none of their virtues.  Fear and sadness can keep me from acknowledging an opportunity or other need for action.
2) My desires - It is amazing how deftly the human mind can delude a person into denying reality because of what they crave or long for.  For instance, the woman who wants so desperately to be in a relationship, she ignores the fact that the man she is with is emotionally abusive.
3) My preconceived ideas - As much as I would like to believe I am the most open-minded person in the world, I know I have a set of beliefs that keep my reality neatly boxed.  Even when someone shares an experience with me, I evaluate the information against what I "know," and decide whether any of it is useful or not.  There are many doors in my mind that might have opened had I even entertained these new ideas or been less attached to my tightly held ideas.
So how about you?  What keeps you from seeing clearly?

From The Circle deck comes "Conflict:"
Years ago I lived on a farm surrounded by acres and acres of pastures, groves and fields.  Because of its vast size, economical barbed wire fences were used to keep the cattle and horses out of the fields planted with crops.  I can remember being woken up late at night or early morning when the cattle had pushed down a fence (probably scratching themselves on a post).  A calf would become separated from its mother, and make poor bleating noises outside my window while its mom would moo deeply on the other side of the house.  Fences do help keep the peace, in more ways than one.  I am reminded by this card that the best boundary I can have in place to avoid conflict is respect - both for others and myself.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Inclusive or Exclusive

From the Gill Tarot, the Seven of Swords:
My first reaction when I drew this card was one of uncertainty - are those real swords?  Some of them look very bendy like they're made of rubber, and the diagonal lines on some remind me of feathers.  Sevens offer a chance to assess our options.  With this Seven of Swords, the framework of my perception changes everything.  Do I look at things from a selfish, self-centered perspective (How will this affect me?  Will I get what I want?)?  Or do I look from a wide, holistic perspective (How will this affect everyone?  Will it benefit all or just a few?)?  When I'm only looking out for my interests is when I feel the sharp points.  As Shantideva put it:
“Whatever joy there is in the world
Arises from wishing for others' happiness.
Whatever suffering there is in the world
Arises from wishing for your own happiness.”

From The Circle deck comes "Direction:"
Maybe I'm influenced too much by logic, but when it comes to a spiritual path (or any other path for that matter) I have a hard time just "going with the flow."  I feel like I need tools and a map to head in a certain direction or toward a specific goal.  I don't mean direction that is rigid or inflexible, but one that guides and gives direction.  Some structure can give me feedback to test the path I'm on and assess it for whether it is an authentic one for me.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Choosing and Doing

From the Gill Tarot, the Princess of Discs (Page of Pentacles):
Every time I see this card in the Gill deck with the bull in the background and the red of her skirt, I think this princess has enough stubbornness to learn to do whatever she sets her mind on doing.  But I think she must be a bit like me when learning something new - I can read all the instructions and books I want, but until I physically get started I'm still lost.  A friend sent my family a board game for the holidays called "Ticket to Ride."  Although it doesn't have a lot of rules to play, it wasn't until we all actually tried to play the game that we had a firm grasp on how to play it (and it was fun!).  If I'm going to attempt something new, I need to be persistent, read the "how to," and then give it a go so I can polish my skills along the way.  I'm definitely a "learn by doing" kind of gal.

From The Circle deck comes "Choice:"
Will it be door number one, two, three or four?  They all have a bright, inviting light shining through the doorway.  They remind me of all the things I want to learn about and do.  But its hard not to have a remote control mentality and switch back and forth, taking a piece of this and a piece of that.  If I want to seriously study or learn a new skill, I'm going to have to choose one, and invest my time in it for a while.