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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Clear Recognition

This week I'll be using the Osho Zen Tarot, created by Ma Deva Padma with Osho and published by St. Martin's Press. I'll also be using the A'HA Oracle, created and self-published by Linnie Lambrechtsen. The card draws for today are the Rebel (Emperor) and 'Humility:'
          This Emperor is a bit like George Washington who saw oppression and decided to throw off its chains. Of course the original revolution happened first within his mind, thus the question from the booklet: "Are you courageous enough to take responsibility for who you are and live your truth?" His bright colors and question remind me of the LGBT movement's struggles and successes over the years. This rebel is a symbol of integrity - outward actions match inner values. The motto of Clan Sutherland (part of my ancestral line) is "Sans Peur", meaning "Without Fear." Sounds like a good mantra for living one's truth. Yet the Humility card is a gentle admonition not to use the sword of truth to make heads roll. It suggests a balance of rights and responsibilities for everyone. The oppressed shouldn't become the new oppressors. As Bill Wilson explained it, "humility amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be."

As 2018 approaches,
May everyone be freed from the root of suffering
And discover the root of happiness.
May everyone find within themselves
The courage, calmness and strength
To meet any challenges they may face.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Greater Whole

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Hermit; from the Heart of Faerie, the 'Prince of Shadows:'
          Notice anything different about this Hermit? She carries no light, suggesting that she is just beginning her journey to the cave. She will attempt, as the Sufis say, to "die before she dies." What wisdom might come in one's last dying breaths? Probably the realization of what is truly important in this life and what isn't. Here is her chance to unhook from a self-centered orbit so that she will have a light of insight to carry from that cave. However she's got a hurdle to jump with the Prince of Shadows. The companion book describes him as "everything we wish for and everything that hurts us the most." I'm sure he would whisper in her ear that he knows how she suffers, and since no one else would understand, suggest she isolate herself in that cave forever. He would offer her any substance or material comfort she desired to dull her pain. Yet this perspective will only increase and extend her agony, not make it better. She would do well to cultivate compassion for herself and others by heeding the words of Bodhipaksa:
Many of our thoughts containing I, me, my, and mine are connected with feelings of distress: I’m worried about this, I don’t like that. No one cares about me or considers my feelings. And so on.“I” thoughts reinforce our sense of aloneness. We see ourselves as broken, as worse than others, and therefore separate from them. Thoughts of “we” connect us, reminding us of our common humanity. Our individual sufferings are seen as being shared by others, and as being part of the difficulties we all have in being human. Our sufferings are not a sign of us being broken, but of us belonging to a greater whole. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Soaking in the Past

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Six of Cups; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the 'Queen of the Day:'
          This elven woman soaks in memories of people and places from her past. Some touch her and are bittersweet, as a few of the people who live in her heart are no longer alive. Some remind her of hard times and challenges she was able to overcome. Others are of her childhood home and early years. The pearl she wears at her forehead is symbolic of these experiences - she has been shaped by each of them into the woman she is today. It was not so much the 'who, what and where' that molded her as the way she related to each of experience. The Queen of the Day offers sound advice for those who soak too long in the past: "Be aware of the beauty around you, no matter where you are or what situation you find yourself in, for there is beauty everywhere if you have the eyes to see it. Stop and think about how this day, this situation, can be seen in a better light. Beauty and grace are there, but you must find them." 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Unloading Heavy Burdens

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Star; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the 'Faerie of Naughtiness:'
          Moore writes that this elven lad wandered off in the forest to play and then became lost at nightfall. His weariness, hunger and fear came to a pause when he spotted a beautiful moth. He became lost in wonder and curiosity, forgetting all about his anxiety. Following the moth, he eventually found his way home. When I find myself in a place of fear and hopelessness, the last thing I want to do is pause. I tend to go into overdrive trying to find a solution. But it is only when I stand firmly in the present moment, still and quiet, that the way out of the forest occurs to me. It is that moment of calm that allows me to catch my breath, stop repeating what I've been doing and see with clarity what needs to be done. The Faerie of Naughtiness suggest I change the energy of a situation by doing something unexpected that will help lighten the moment. Laughter (though not at another's expense) is crucial if I don't want to get entangled in a web of my own stern and rigid seriousness. An overly stuffy and staid response will only add more weight to a heavy situation. Clarity comes when I stay in the 'now' and look for the humor amid the heaviness of life.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stepping Out

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Six of Swords; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the 'Prince of Light:'
          This woman has donned an eagle circlet, a totem symbol, in an effort to clear her mind. Like the eagles who can reach heights far above the mountains and clouds, she seeks to find clarity and peace. Humans are strange in that we often expect outer life to reform itself to bring us inner peace. It rarely dawns on us how self-identified we have become with our beliefs, opinions and ideas; clinging to these rigid thoughts is what usually causes our mental anguish. The Prince of Light holds an egg that represents new beginnings and potential. Just as that tiny shell holds possibilities, so too can opening a bit more space in our mind. In the words of Michael Carroll: "In order to open—in meditation and in life in general—we must let go of our familiar thoughts and emotions, we must step out from behind the safe curtain of our inner rehearsals and onto the stage of reality, even if it’s for just a brief moment."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Trust is Earned, Not Notarized

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Lovers; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, 'The Remembrance:'
          Forest lovers seal their marriage with a kiss. Nowadays, there might be prenuptial papers to draw up. Business partnerships of old used to be sealed with a handshake, but in today's world there are legal documents to sign and notarize. It's ironic that although present day commitments require more hoops to jump through, these legalities don't seem to make them last any longer or create more faith in the other partner. Trust just isn't a hot commodity right now, which is probably why this angst-filled faerie showed up on the card of Remembrance. He is trying hard not to forget what he's learned from past lessons. As Maya Angelou stated, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Yet on the flip side, there is a danger of over-generalizing from one person to all people, especially if they share a similar trait. It's tempting to go into over-protective mode when you've been burned. Yet as Mark Twain advised, "We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there."

Monday, December 25, 2017

What is Precious

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Ten of Pentacles; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the 'Faerie of Youth:'
          I can imagine this older fellow in front of the standing stones quoting Mary Oliver to me: "Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" There are thousands of ways I can spend my time, energy and resources. When I die, what 'stones' will I leave behind - a legacy of compassionate generosity or tight-fisted complaints? The Faerie of Youth encourages me to see with the eyes of wonder and limitless possibilities. When my vision is narrow and my mind closed, life lacks promise and has no hidden potential. I think on this holiday, I will choose to follow Stephen Levine's advice: "Non-attachment is not the elimination of desire. It is the spaciousness to allow any quality of mind, any thought or feeling, to arise without closing around it, without eliminating the pure witness of being. It is an active receptivity to life."
Peace and goodwill to all!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Softening the Heart

This week I'll be using the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, created by Julia Jeffrey with Barbara Moore, and published by Llewellyn. I'll also be drawing from the Heart of Faerie Oracle created by Brian and Wendy Froud  and published by Abrams. Today's cards are the the Ace of Cups and 'Lady of the Unicorns:'
          Jeffrey has chosen an otter in mid-play to represent the Ace of Cups, a card that can represent a tug of the heart, love and relationship. Otters seem to engage in activities for the sheer enjoyment of them, such as making slides down into the water and playing with rocks. I've seen people of various races, religions and social backgrounds work together in times of disaster. What it would be like to put down all our labels and dogmas and simply have a day devoted to fun? I imagine we would look out at everyone amidst the laughter and experience that tender tug of the heart. This faerie is the guardian of unicorns, a symbol of purity, grace and love. The unicorn's horn was supposed to be able to restore poisoned water and heal those who were sick. The animal has been used in heraldry, usually shown unbound to emphasize the idea of liberty and independence. My beliefs can support and sustain me, or they can bind me to rigid ideas that leave little room for compassion and joy. Perhaps its time to leave those uncompromising beliefs at the river bank and let them soften up.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Discern What's Real

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Knight of Spring (Wands); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Sig/Sowilo:'
          This fellow's mount says a lot about him - the European hare can run 37 body lengths per second. With his eye to the telescope, the Knight of Spring/Wands is always eager to see what's over the next hill or around the bend in the river. Full of energy, charisma and fun, there's never a dull moment with this guy. But anything that makes him have to settle in one place and take care of too many details will make him restless and irritable. He might plan a huge party, but he assumes others will set up and clean up afterward. He's exciting to be around, but you better bring your dustpan and broom if you tag along. Sig/Sowilo represents the power and energy of the sun. The Nazi SS corps adopted a double sig as their symbol, as they saw it as a symbol of victory. While they were behind much violence and many deaths, they were not successful in the end (thank goodness). Symbols might be impressive, but they mean nothing if the person or group behind them don't stand for something worthwhile. While I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, neither should I judge a package by its brightly colored paper and ribbon.
 During training you're not taught to study the thousands of fake bills, for example, you are taught to KNOW the authentic ones. So, no matter how the counterfeit is disguised, you will immediately discern that it's not real. ―Yvonne Pierre 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Our Greatest Strength

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Moon; from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Ur/Uruz:'
          Twas the night of Winter Solstice and all through the garden, fairies dreamed while luna moths fluttered under the light of the moon. I spent most of the solstice night awake even after a cup of chamomile tea and a couple of melatonin. Just as the unconscious comes out in my dreams, it can also peek out in sheer exhaustion. My 'follow the rules,' rational brain will let the reins slip, allowing that shadowy horse to take off at a gallop. I've been trained by belt and cruelty not to cry, and even though I now know it's healthy, it's still hard for me. But my heart has been full lately, tender and raw from witnessing the suffering of others. And so on the darkest night of the year as I lay sleepless, I cried those tears I've been carefully holding in. The rune Ur/Uruz is translated as 'great ox,' and it implies great strength. I know intellectually that inner strength has nothing to do with outer toughness, yet my heart is still hesitant at times to take off its armor and be vulnerable. Perhaps tonight I will whisper Rumi's words to myself as I fall asleep: "Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fast-acting Relief

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Two of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Rit/Raidho:'
There's danger if I dare to
Stop and here's a reason why:
I'm over-due, I'm in a rabbit stew.
Can't even say good-bye,
Hello, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. 
~ White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

          As this poor fairy tries to ride a bike and hold on to his acorns at the same time, I can hear the White Rabbit's refrain in my head. We all have times when we feel like we've over-committed ourselves or when our must-do list begins to look like a thesis. But the snail down below suggests he would accomplish more by simply slowing down and taking a deep breath. If he walked and pulled a wagon full of nuts, he would likely make more progress in the same amount of time. Rit/Raidho literally means wagon or cart; unlike the 'horse' rune, it suggests a journey carrying all one's belongings. Seen through a metaphorical lens, it could be interpreted as the journey of life. Now I know there are times when I must be on the move and busy getting things done, but I sure don't want to feel as frustrated and anxious as that fairy while doing them. Rarely do I excel at anything in that mindset, which is like a bubble that obscures my awareness of what's going on around me. I'll take Lily Tomlin's advice with me on my journey today:
For fast acting relief, try slowing down.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Look for the Helpers

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Six of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Ehwaz/Eoh:'
          The younger fairy has torn her wing, and so the older fairy is applying a poultice of comfrey to help her heal. Here is an example of sharing resources - of skill, herb and tender touch. I read a newsletter recently from Tami Simon (founder of Sounds True) in which she described a dinner of friends she attended. Later the host sent her a note that was signed in a unique way: "May you be a blessing." What would my day look like if I started it with the intention of being a blessing? I know it would change my attitude for one thing, helping me to focus on the good I could do instead of soaking in self-centered thoughts. Ehwaz/Eoh literally means "horse," and three can be spotted in this painting. The rune suggests forward movement, but it also implies that teamwork is responsible for creating such progress. It's easy to despair about what shape our country and world is in if I watch too much news. It can seem like humanity's movement is only backwards. But I'm reminded of a story Fred Rogers (of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood) told his listeners about advice from his mother when he would see scary things on the news: "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

E for Effort

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Four of Summer (Cups); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Gebo/Gyfu:'
           During our dog days of summer (when the heat and humidity nearly match in degree), I often look as limp and lethargic as this young man. But the root of his issue isn't caused by climate but emotional attitude. In the companion book Weatherstone writes: "Dissatisfaction with daily routine can indicate a need to break free of its patterns and seek new ways to approach life with interest." Now this doesn't seem too difficult, does it? But most of us prefer to be entertained rather than stoke our own curiosity or creativity. Eugene lonesco wrote, "Boredom flourishes too, when you feel safe. It's a symptom of security." A little stress could be a good thing if it gets us off our bums; then maybe we can do something different. The rune Gebo literally means 'gift,' though it also implies a fair exchange. Everything costs something. Sometimes it is simply effort on my part.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Frail Flesh

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Queen of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, 'Man (Mannaz):'
          Generosity is second nature to the Queen of Autumn. The rowan garland over her throne symbolizes protection, though she does not protect with a sword or other weapon. Having an earthy practicality, she protects by making sure every living being in her realm has the basics: adequate food, medicine and shelter. She's no enabler however, and expects everyone to do what they can for themselves and their neighbors. She knows the person we might argue with one day about a trespassing cow might be the same person who saves our bacon when we need a hand at harvest time. Man/Mannaz represents the human race and its frailty as the rune poem describes:
A mirthful Man is to his kinsmen dear;
Yet each one must from the others turn,
Because Odin desires by his decree
To deliver that frail flesh to earth.
Life is short and not always an easy road to travel. We need to be willing to lend a helping hand instead of focusing only on ourselves. As Jack Kornfield so eloquently put it: "Life is hard, how can we be anything but kind?"

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Check the Context

This week I'll be using the Victorian Fairy Tarot, created by Lunaea Weatherstone with Gary A. Lippincott and published by Llewellyn. Paired with it will be the Haindl Rune Oracle, created by Hermann Haindl and published by U.S. Games. Today's cards are the King of Winter (Swords) and 'Odal (Othila):'
          Though he wears a serious but intent expression, this King seems like he's willing to listen before rushing to judgment. His sword is in its sheath rather than in his hand, suggesting that he's put aside his opinions in order to have a fair and open mind. Any attempt at emotional drama will get frozen before it has a chance to get started. The holly that decorates his throne represents foresight, the ability to see the later consequences of an action as well as the immediate ones. He will rule fairly and objectively, because he doesn't play favorites. Odal/Othila symbolizes hearth and home, even though the Nazis twisted its meaning into a symbol of their mythic Aryan past. Even today, it is used by white supremacists. Yet the  Anti-Defamation League reminds people to be careful in their assessment: "because it is part of the runic alphabet, the symbol can also be found in non-extremist contexts as well, especially runic writing and runestones used by non-racist pagans. Consequently, care should be taken to evaluate the symbol in the context in which it appears." Like the tree stumps that frame the sun, I need to separate outward appearances from the focus of a group or person. As this King would remind me, "Don't judge what's on the inside merely by the packaging it's wrapped in."

Saturday, December 16, 2017


From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Wands; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, 'Expansion:'
 In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?  
 ~William Blake

          I miss this fiery lass in my life - her confidence, outspokenness, and insatiable hunger and joy for life. Of course I don't miss her carelessness or the intoxication that clouds her clarity, but her enthusiasm I still long for. She used to be such a huge part of me when I was a young adult; now I seem to stick mostly with what is practical and prudent. But gosh darn it, she was fun... I wonder if part of what dampened her fire was simply fear or just the trudge of daily life. However, loss is going to be a part of my life regardless if I jump in with both feet or not. Perhaps I can still jump in with a parachute wearing a fireproof suit and a float around my waist. The Wisdom Keeper of Expansion speaks these words: "It's time to move beyond your comfort zone. If you've been holding tightly to an opinion, identity, vision or world view, it's time to let go. In the end, all that matters is expansion through the heart." Somewhere inside my inner Page of Wands is laughing gleefully.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wisdom of Understanding

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Emperor; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, 'Understanding:'
          This has got to be one of the most laid-back Emperors I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure that globe he's holding is an aromatherapy diffuser with lavender in it. But why shouldn't he be relaxed? The sun is shining, the sheep are grazing and the bees are making honey. All is peaceful and stable in his world for the moment. Yet I have to admit I'm a planner, always looking to prepare for future possibilities. Sometimes when I try to chill out, I feel like I'm doing something wrong or have left something undone. The Wisdom Keeper of Understanding speaks these words: "I know and trust that at some point your hard-working mind will exhaust itself, and you will break free into a new way of being." Her point is that the mind needs to rest as much as the body, and by resting, it allows the heart to be heard (the intellect can be such a bully sometimes). Understanding comes from information and compassion; it expands and improves my perception.
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fear and Belonging

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Devil; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, 'Orientation:'
          These two people remind me of having two fingers stuck in a Chinese handcuffs toy. The more they pull, the less progress they make. What they fear has been personified by the Devil. It's not an actual being, but what our mind externalizes as the cause of our problems. Fear of losing something we have or failing to get something we want keeps us trapped in the illusion. When we cease the struggle against what is, we free ourselves and then can respond in saner ways. The Wisdom Keeper of Orientation suggests that we orient ourselves in one of two ways: as a separate individual or as a diverse part of a greater whole. Lack of belonging - being without meaningful relationships - can create an underlying anxiety. Belonging is an inherent need of humans, just as important as food and shelter. Yet society presses us to be special and unique so that we separate ourselves and stand apart. We can fall for that insanity (becoming trapped in those mental handcuffs), or realize we all have a common bond of some sort (which may take an effort to see). There can be diversity in unity; we just mustn't forget the whole.
Belonging starts with self-acceptance. ~ Brene Brown

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Being Accountable

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, 'Equality:'
          When pressures mount, the intellect rises up in order to protect its assets. Deflection and distraction are used for pointed questions; slippery yet eloquent words confuse rather than clarify the issue. The one thing not out in the open is the truth, but even that can't hide forever. The Thoth keyword for this card is 'futility,' and I can't help but draw a parallel between it and the Alabama senator election last night. Democrat Doug Jones won the vote over Republican Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual abuse and relationships with young teen girls. Of course Moore denied everything (and even got the endorsement of Trump), but the media refused to let him off the hook. It is futile to think that it's possible to hide one's guilt forever. The Wisdom Keeper of Equality asks that we look at each person tenderly, as if we are a part of one family. It's easy if the person is friendly and agrees with all my opinions. But someone like Moore would be tough. I might see him in a kinder light as a flawed human, but I don't think I'll be inviting him over for dinner. Forgiveness is my responsibility, but he's the one who will have to prove himself trustworthy. And that begins with being accountable.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get Me There Quickly

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Prince (Knight) of Wands; from the Wisdom Keepers, 'Lightness:'
          This Prince/Knight is full of courage, energy and charismatic swagger. If someone mentions a daring adventure, he'll be the first to sign up. Unfortunately, he's a little lacking in the patience department. The Prince will relegate the boring details like packing and travel arrangements to someone else (an instance where his charm is helpful). If he had his way, he would just be dropped into the excitement and miss all the tedious preparation that precedes it. The Lightness Wisdom Keeper points out that even spiritual objectives can become self-centered desires. We pray without ceasing to have things turn out the way we want. We buy oil and candles to draw to us what we long for or turn away what we don't. We meditate for hours in an attempt to bypass what scares us and transcend our worries (hoping to reach nirvana so we don't have to deal with what's unpleasant at all). We say affirmations and visualize the positive in an effort to ignore what needs to be dealt with. We forget that the point of this life isn't just to learn from the joy and wonder, but to grow and develop through struggle as well.
Spiritual bypass shields us from the truth, it disconnects us from our feelings, and helps us avoid the big picture. It is more about checking out than checking in—and the difference is so subtle that we usually don't even know we are doing it. The shorthand for spiritual bypass is grasping rather than gratitude, arriving rather than being, avoiding rather than accepting. ~Ingrid Mathieu

Monday, December 11, 2017

Guide or Aggressor

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Five of Wands; from the Wisdom Keepers, 'Leadership:'
          In the first illustration, two people engage in the African martial art known as donga. The object is to see which of them is the strongest, or 'the Bull.' Because this is a Thoth-based deck, this card is given the keyword 'strife.' It reminds me of how often self-will knocks heads with others when different sides think they each know the right way of doing things. Conflict is not necessarily bad when it exposes all the angles of an issue. But occasionally the mediation or brainstorm session can become a battle of arrogance, and the importance of the overall situation is completely forgotten. I want to call out to the battling youngsters, "Put down your weapons - the field is on fire!" Today's Wisdom Keeper asks the question, "Do you lead in the spirit of humility and service?" Our idea of leadership has become twisted and corrupt these days. Being a true leader has nothing to do with who has the most 'likes' or followers, or who has the power to bully or manipulate others. These two wise women explain its meaning very well:
 A leader isn't someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own. ~ Beth Revis
 To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Separating Myself

This week I'll be using the Sun and Moon Tarot, created by Vanessa Decort and published by U.S. Games. I'll also be drawing from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, created by Rosy Aronson and published by Seal Pup Press. Today's draws are the Prince (Knight) of Pentacles and 'Discrimination:'
          The Prince/Knight of Pentacles likes to do things in a slow, orderly fashion. Grounded as the bull that pulls his wagon, he is an industrious worker with an eye for details. He thinks long and hard before acting, but once he chooses, he plods (some say stubbornly) toward his objective. Whatever the project, he won't take risks and will be persistent in seeing it through to completion. Yet there can be a downside to being such an observer of details, especially when it is applied to people. There are two definitions for discrimination: recognition of differences and prejudicial treatment because of differences. While the first definition helps us survive and get through life, the second causes hatred, injustice and a feeling of separation. This Wisdom Keeper asks the question, "How does your inner elitist express itself?" The most basic discrimination is based on gender, sexual preference, race, religion or socioeconomics. But there is a more subtle form that is often overlooked. I may think of myself as more spiritually evolved or knowledgeable than another person. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I may feel special because I have done crazy, insane things. Or, I may think I'm unique because (as the song goes) "nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows my sorrow." Such views only serve to alienate me from those to whom I belong, diverse though they are.
Our habitual way of categorizing people as friends, enemies, and strangers depending on how they make us feel is both incorrect and a great obstacle to developing impartial love for all living beings. Rather than holding so tightly to our discriminations of the external world, it would be much more beneficial if we learned to discriminate between valuable and worthless states of mind .                ― Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Embracing the Moment

From the Hoi Polloi Tarot, the Ten of Cups; from the I Ching Pack, 'Thunder over Earth:'
          Trivium recently drew this card for her daily draw, and I commented on how it seemed like the couple were embracing the moment. My everyday duties can keep my nose to the ground to the extent that I don't notice the small things that are good, beautiful and awe-inspiring. These are the moments that help keep my heart open instead of armored, and I would do well to pay attention. Like the rainbow above the family, such events are transitory; I need to sip from the cups while I can. Hexagram 16 shows a family outing with two children having a friendly wrestling match. Thunder over Water indicates enthusiasm that brings unification. I can imagine the father watching these two rowdy boys might prefer a quiet day of cloud watching on his day off. But being a wet blanket would dampen everyone's fun. The irony is that when I'm willing to tag along with other happy people, I can't help but be influenced by their mood. And if I can get out of the stories in my head, I might just have a bit of fun too.

Breathing in, I calm my body. 
Breathing out, I smile. 
Dwelling in the present moment 
I know this is a wonderful moment.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, December 8, 2017

Expansion vs. Contraction

From the Hoi Polloi Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from the I Ching Pack, 'Wind over Lake:'
          Wow, would you look at all the leaves on that wand - inspiration to create and solutions for problems galore. I might feel that way after two pots of coffee; it's been a long night of cleaning up after two elderly cats. My wand of potential feels like it is microscopic in size this morning. I simply can't see any possibilities because I've been solely focused on the problem at hand. I need a wand upgrade. The sixty-first hexagram has been given the key phrase 'serenity within,' and it suggests a gentle wind blowing across the water. The translation by Richard Wilhelm notes that it: "consists of firm lines above and below, while it is open in the center. This indicates a heart free of prejudices and therefore open to truth." The truth isn't always rainbows and unicorns unfortunately. Sometimes it's cat poop and barf. And as Larry Rosenberg reminds me, "You eliminate an enormous amount of suffering by concentrating on the suffering that is actually present instead of creating more with your thinking." Time to expand my mind and my focus.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Next Right Thing

From the Hoi Polloi Tarot, the Six of Pentacles; from the I Ching Pack, 'Lake over Thunder:'
          I went to walk at the indoor mall yesterday because of inclement weather. I noticed several school buses had brought kids from the special needs classes to enjoy the music and decorations as well as visit Santa. A few of the children were congregated on the front entrance helping the bell ringer collect donations. One young boy had a smile as wide as the ocean and danced gleefully as the bell was rung. He was the epitome of joy; if I'd had one hundred dollars, I would have stuffed them all in that kettle for the way he opened my heart at that moment. It was a wonderful reminder of how to give and receive. The 15th hexagram is called 'honorable following.' It reminded me of a phrase from 12 Step groups and this quote from Anne Lamott: "I took a long, deep breath and wondered, as usual, where to start. You start where you are, is the secret of life. You do the next right thing you can see. Then the next." I think most of us know what the next right thing is, but we often act as if we have no clue. Why? Because it may require effort, humility, or a big step out of our comfort zone. Yet as that young man taught me, if my heart is wide open, the rest of me will follow.