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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rewiring the Hardwired Brain

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Eight of Swords; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the "Cockatoo:"
The red background and the group of swords successfully camouflage the open bloom of the red rose. I read an article in Tricycle magazine by Dr.Wendy Hasenkamp this morning that brilliantly sums up the problem behind this card:
 Through the continual process of neural association, we slowly build up strong networks related to the things we experience frequently. These neural networks reflect our personal knowledge about a given object, person, or situation—in the form of sense perceptions, memories, emotions, thoughts, and behavioral responses. As we move through our lives, brain circuits that are used more frequently become “hardwired”; that is, they are easier to activate than new or unused connections. Because less energy is needed for these familiar circuits to become active, patterns that are practiced become quite literally the “path of least resistance.” ...The result is our inability to truly perceive others (or ourselves) in the uniqueness of each moment. Thus viewed, delusion—our misperception of the world—is part of the natural result of a fundamental biological process, one that is beautiful in its elegance and utility, but also dangerous in its capacity for distortion.
The Eight of Swords is a Thoth-based deck, so this card is subtitled "Interference." Our hardwired thoughts interfere with reality. Yet according to Hasenkamp, we can build a bridge over these deep mental grooves through conscious effort; we can eventually weaken them and build healthy mental habits. 
Cockatoos as pets require a commitment. They are intelligent, social birds who can live to be 70 years old, and they bond strongly with their owner. Their message is to be unafraid of making a deep connection with others. Immediately, those eight swords pop up around me when I hear this advice. I can count on one hand the number of people I open my heart to without reservation. Hmm.... maybe I can pull up one sword at a time, and make a small opening as a start.


  1. I am familiar with these neural pathways due to my husband brain damage. Maybe this process was more useful when society was simple and predictable.Nowadays it is an enormous challenge to constantly adept to this fast changing world.
    Again I think mindfulness can be very helpful to bridge certain roads and clear away swords

    1. Hasenkamp is a neuroscientist and also a meditator; she is a proponent of mindfulness in that it can help us see where we are stuck so we can clear away those unhealthy swords.

    2. So often it is not about changing out circumstances, but changing our thought patterns so we can better deal with them (instead of feeling trapped and overwhelmed).

    3. I agree! I once read somewhere there is no such thing as reality only perception :)