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, June 18, 2018

Fleeting Moments

From the Sacred India Tarot, the Knight of Arrows (Swords); from the State by State Playing Cards, 'Washington, D.C./5 of Hearts:'
          Often known as the 'monkey god,' Hanuman was a Vanara, a mythical race with simian attributes. As a boy, Hanuman was a bit of a rascal, but he grew up to become an example of self-restraint and wisdom. He is considered an embodiment of Karma Yoga (the path of devotion demonstrated through hard work or service). His arrow suggests penetrating insight; Hanuman is a symbol of the disciplined mind that no longer jumps from thought to thought. Washington, D.C. is known for the cherry blossoms that appear each spring. After two weeks, the flowers begin to fall like snowflakes. The cherry blossom is a symbol of beauty but also impermanence. In combination with the Knight of Swords, it reminds me of the words of Katherine Thanas:
...at any moment, with a camera, we capture a frozen moment of reality and believe that moment is true, but actually that moment is frozen from a flow of time and events. Our consciousness is like a camera: it takes sound bites, emotional 'takes,' and that's what memory remembers - frozen moments. We hang our identity and other people's identities on those frozen moments, but at some point we come to understand them as fleeting moments, and likely distortions of what happened.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sticky Outcome

This week I'll be using the Sacred India Tarot, a deck and book set created by Rohit Arya with Jane Adams and published by Yogi Impressions. Along with it, I'll be using State by State Playing Cards, created by Wendy C. Boccuzzi and published by U.S. Games. Today's draws are the Seven of Wands and 'Vermont/Ace of Hearts:'
          The Seven of Wands shows Sita, consort (life companion) of Rama, preparing a fire. She had been abducted by the demon king Ravana, and now people were questioning her purity. Rama (after killing the king) asks her to undergo a trial by ordeal - fire - in order to prove she is honorable and had no part in Ravana's actions. As a furious Sita sits amid the flames, Agni, the god of fire intervenes (saving Sita) and rebukes Rama. Rama replies that he only wanted to prove to the people she was not at fault. Like the story of Adam and Eve, blame always seems to fall on the woman. Vermont is known for its syrup, a sweet concoction processed from the sap of maple trees. While it is sweet, it is also sticky. And the trees are prevented from healing the drilled holes from which the sap is collected. Standing up for ourselves and defying public opinion can come at a cost. While doing so will build our own confidence and courage, those who attempt to sway or pressure us will likely lose our respect and trust. It's hard to unring the bell.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

What's the Use?

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, 'Rose:'
If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? 
If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying? 
~ Shantideva

          When stress comes in unending waves, sleepless nights are often a result. I've had my share of stressful moments lately, from finding a friend near death when I did a wellness check to having my car sideswiped (hit and run) yesterday. But the older I get, the more I try to take Shantideva's advice. That doesn't mean I don't feel the emotional side of things, but I don't have to let my thoughts add to the weight of it all. I learned yesterday that it is not slow, deep breathing that relaxes us, but the longer out-breath. Inhaling is what alerts the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) while slowly exhaling kicks in our parasympathetic system that can calm the body. The idea is to make your out-breath longer in order to relax, no matter what the mind is doing.  Rose prods me to remember that even when there are thorns, there is still beauty and goodness in the world that I need to pay attention to - even more so when life gets bumpy.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bird Watcher

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Ace of Swords; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, the 'Mountain:'
          Occasionally I'll see a commercial from UNCF scholarship drive that says, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." The mind is perhaps the greatest resource of humans, allowing us to learn, create and solve problems. But it is a two-edged sword that can be used skillfully or unskillfully, for selfish benefit or altruistic purposes. The Buddha said that even if we were to solve all the material problems in the world, there would still be suffering. The untrained mind lacks wisdom and discernment because it is easily influenced by moods. As a result, we rarely feel peace or contentment. The Mountain suggests a challenge, and though climbing one requires a great deal of effort, the view from the top often gives us a clearer, broader perspective. Such is the result of mind training, an adventure that lasts a lifetime. Becoming aware of our thoughts without buying the story they're selling is helpful, yet we must do so with gentleness and curiosity - more like a bird watcher than a dog trainer.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Turn, Turn, Turn

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Wheel; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, the Snail:
          Sudden change can make us feel like we've been tossed into a tumultuous sea; underwater and confused, we have a hard time telling which way is up. Other times the change we seek is achingly slow, either as we anticipate the end of pain or worry about what we see coming on the horizon. How are we to maintain sanity and serenity through the turns of life? The Snail implies that we stay grounded and move at the pace of guidance. Being grounded suggests staying in the moment as much as possible. Guidance through spiritual intentions can provide a compass when things get topsy-turvy. For me, that is the Five Precepts I recite every day (the word 'vow' simply means what I aspire to and does not imply a commandment):

  • I vow not to harm but to nurture all of life.
  • I vow not to take what is not given but to practice generosity.
  • I vow not to misuse my relationships but to treat every person with respect.
  • I vow not to engage in false speech but to listen an speak from the heart.
  • I vow not to intoxicate body or mind but to cultivate a mind that sees clearly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Crossed Daggers

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Page of Swords; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, 'Key:'
          The companion book calls the Page of Swords an "acolyte of the power of the mind," yet I would add the power of speech as well. Those two crossed daggers on his pillow suggest disagreements; he watches and listens carefully to learn how to be a skillful debater. I'm convinced that the majority of Americans have lost this ability - they know how to argue but not present a rational explanation for their ideas. Seeing information on Facebook, on the cover of the National Enquirer or because one believes in something strongly doesn't make it a fact. What is the Key, then? First, I need to take a hard look at what I believe. The evidence for my ideas should be well-documented and credible and include research that can be replicated and observed. I shouldn't just attempt to prove the other side wrong, I need facts to prove I'm right. But to do this successfully, I need to begin with an open mind and look at both sides objectively instead of relying on tradition, preferences or prejudices. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Your Deepest Desire

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Seven of Cups; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, 'Money:'
           In the TV series Lucifer, the devil (aka Lucifer Morningstar) looks deeply into the eyes of individuals and asks them, "What is your deepest desire?" Under his spell, they all answer truthfully, but what they say is often surprising and seemingly out of character. We never really know what motivates people, we can only judge by what they say or do. Do we even know our deepest desires, that which we think will make us feel whole and fulfilled? Perhaps we make so many wrong choices because we look at the surface rather than deeply and don't think about the long run. Money is one of those easy choices - who doesn't think they need more at times? Yet perhaps that is just a cover for our insecurity and longing for more certainty in life. While it may be an immediate help, it usually isn't a lasting fix for what lies beneath.