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, July 31, 2016

You've Only Got Two Hands

This week I'll be using the Llewellyn Tarot, a book and deck set created by Anna-Marie Ferguson and published by Llewellyn. The oracle deck I'll be using is the Beasts of Albion, a deck and book set created by Miranda Gray and published by Aquarian. Today's draws are the Knight of Pentacles and the Goose:

          I completely understand this detail-oriented knight. I'm the kind of person who wants to read the instruction book and lay out all the pieces in an orderly fashion before assembling anything. If I'm planting herbs, I'm going to do a bit of research on their sun and soil requirements beforehand, then I'll prepare the beds in advance of their purchase. Folks like us don't get in a hurry, because we want to do our jobs well, not half-assed. But look at Goose giving that knight the eye. Have you ever been chased by a goose after crossing into their territory unawares? If so, you'll understand the aggressive protection this bird symbolizes. But what could the dutiful, loyal knight need to be defended from? James Ricklef (Pithy Tarot) suggests some wisdom the Knight of Pentacles would be wise to heed: "Be cautious about making a commitment, but when you do, be unshakable in keeping it." In other words, the knight needs to make sure his loyalty doesn't cause him to overextend himself. If he does, he won't be able to fulfill any of his commitments with his usual efficiency and reliability.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Safe Side

From the Norse Tarot, the Queen of Discs; from the Wolf Pack, Risk:
          This resourceful queen is known for her practical nature. So what in the world is she doing standing behind some large boulders with smaller rocks all around? It doesn't seem like a very soft and nurturing place to be, but it could be a place of protection. If she is as grounded as she is supposed to be, she'll know that sometimes safety is the smarter choice. Excitement, adventure and heroism are all great, unless the dangers are greater than any benefits. Which leads straight to the Risk card from the Wolf Pack that shows a wolf about to test out the frozen surface of a lake. Does the potential gain outweigh the potential risk? He doesn't look like he's starving, so if he's chasing a smaller animal out on the ice he might want to think twice. Pragmatism might be boring, but it could possibly save someone from a slippery choice that they can't recover from.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lost and Found

From the Norse Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Wolf Pack, Home:
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
~ W.S. Merwin

          I came across this poem by Merwin the other day, and it instantly made me think of the Five of Cups. A terrible loss is like a thick fog that closes in around us, until it is all we can see. Platitudes offered by friends and acquaintances just get lost in its mist. But the Wolf Pack card suggests a way we can safely ground ourselves in a secure place (Home). Just as the mother wolf brings back her cub from wandering too far, we can come back to our body through simple tasks. A few days ago, Ellen wrote of doing needlework as a sensory focal point. Like her knitting, any small, daily activity - preparing a meal, weeding a flower bed, sweeping the walkway, folding laundry - can help me focus on the physical instead of the mental. If I can briefly concentrate on the action rather than my thoughts of loss and the story around it, I can stay in the present moment. And every moment that I spend in the moment will help me heal. In time, those peeks out of the fog will assist me in finding the sunlight again.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On Empty

From the Norse Tarot, the Five of Discs; from the Wolf Pack, Respect:
          In this card, a man, woman and baby (under the woman's cloak) struggle against the wind and cold. I can't imagine living anywhere that has winters like this; I was born and raised in a climate that only drops below freezing a few weeks out of the year. Waking up to snow on the ground here would be akin to waking up in Dorothy's Oz. The kind of cold this family is enduring seems hellish, and it makes me pause and take stock of the physical side of my life. Finances are okay, and my body is definitely getting better. But my energy? The needle is definitely on the empty mark, mostly due to sleep issues. I'm avoiding what I know could cause insomnia (caffeine, blue screens, etc.), but things have been so hectic and busy that I haven't had time to pause and pursue a proactive approach. The Respect card suggests that I start being more serious about the care of my body. While the lack of sleep might not kill me, it surely can cause me to make choices that affect my finances and body in a negative manner. I wonder if Aretha Franklin ever made a song entitled R-E-S-T-N-O-W. I sure could use some instructions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Exit Strategy

From the Norse Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Wands; from the Wolf Pack, Children:
          Sometimes as we grow older, we gain wisdom; on the other hand, it can also bring a tendency to stick to the old ways of thinking and doing things. And while it's not a bad idea to look to past experience for help in the present, it can dig a deeper rut if "how it's always been done" is no longer working. Barrett describes this Princess/Page as holding aloft a torch to light the way to an exit of a cave. She found the way out (a solution) because she is an explorer willing to take a few risks. Now the question is whether to sit in the dark or walk towards the light. The Children card from the Wolf Pack suggests seeing through a child's eyes. Most children (at least those who haven't been raised in neglect, abuse or ongoing trauma) are optimistic and eager to try anything new. Curiosity replaces fear, and enthusiasm replaces apathy. I'm sure they'll be right by the side of that Princess as she makes her way out of the cave.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

No Shortcuts

From the Norse Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from the Wolf Pack, the Long Journey:
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. 
― Beverly Sills
 I don't know anything about luck. I've never banked on it and I'm afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work - and realizing what is opportunity and what isn't.
― Lucille Ball
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
― Colin Powell
          Researchers have found that folks who lose a lot of weight in a relatively short amount of time radically alter their metabolism. Their metabolisms slow to a crawl (sometimes permanently), and their bodies no longer burn enough calories to maintain their thinner size. People who come into a large amount of wealth, such as through an inheritance or the lottery, rarely keep it because they have no idea how to manage money. Folks who decide to buy a business without any previous knowledge or training often find themselves with too many irons and no fire (energy). Sills, Ball and Powell really do know what they're talking about; there are no short cuts to finding what hard work and study will produce.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Chance Encounters

From the Norse Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from the Wolf Pack, Friends:
          The three Norns were believed to govern the fate of man; even the gods had no influence on how they wove their web. The oldest Norn looked toward the past, the youngest toward the future and the middle-aged one focused on the present. The rune associated with this card is Rad (Raidho), and like the Wheel, it implies travel, movement and change. The Friends from the Wolf Pack reflect my thoughts lately of old friends who were once close buddies but now have either moved or found other interests that occupy them. I used to live under the impression that true friendships would never fluctuate or diminish, but now I understand they must change in the same way everything else does. Sometimes I'm just a strand in the web of fate, a bridge for someone else that allows me to offer knowledge, nurturing or companionship (and in turn, a person may be a bridge for me). Other times we may simply be following a strand that arcs in the opposite direction from each other for a period, but eventually our paths cross again. Yet as long as I'm facing the present, I'm not going to overlook any new strands that pass my way. That chance encounter might just turn out to be an unexpected but fortunate meeting for me.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Soft Spots

This week I'll be using the Norse Tarot deck and book set, created by Clive Barrett and published by Aquarian Press. I'll also be using the Wolf Pack, created and self-published by Robert Petro. Today's draws are the Queen of Cups and Obstacle:
          I could learn a lot from the Queen of Cups, a bodhisattva in training. When those I mentor come to me with their problems, I often just give them a reality check instead of sympathy. This particular Queen isn't one to hang out in anyone's pity party either (notice that rock she's standing on). But she's still willing to empathize with the person she's listening to, putting herself in their shoes. It takes a special person to be willing to remove the armor from her heart and experience the pain of another person. Yet it makes me feel vulnerable and afraid to expose my soft spot. However, the kicker is that such protection doesn't really protect; it just keeps makes me in a constant state of fear. Here is my Obstacle, shown by the wolf behind the fence. To become a compassionate warrior (in a spiritual sense), I must train so that I stand firm rather than run. Practices such as tonglen and loving-kindness meditation can help. But sometimes I need to remember why that soft spot is so special, and why I need to leave it open. For that, I use a 'Benefactor Moment' meditation (click 'Read More' for the meditation).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Supporting Initiative

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Ace of Staves; from the Viking Lenormand, the Dog:
          Jackson describes the Ace of Staves as 'swift initiative.' Just for the heck of it, I looked up 'initiative' on Thesaurus.com to see what other words were similar: drive, push, enthusiasm, eagerness, enterprise, inventiveness and spunk. Those words represent my feelings when I have a great idea or insight and want to put it into form. But before taking action, one of the first things I do is share my thoughts with those who are supportive yet honest with me - my friends (the loyal Dog of Lenormand). There is a line in the children's book Charlotte's Web where Wilbur (the pig) asks Charlotte (the spider) why she went to so much trouble to help him. She replies, "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing." What a tremendous gift indeed is friendship, and one that helps me thrive and grow in a world that is often a hard taskmaster. In the words of Anaïs Nin, "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." To all my friends, both old and new, close by and far away, I offer up a sincere 'thank you.'

Friday, July 22, 2016

Don't Fall Asleep in the Clover

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Seven of Coins; from the Viking Lenormand, Clover:

          Instead of a time to pause, reflect and assess one's progress, Jackson sees the Seven of Coins as a delay caused by laziness or procrastination. My family would laugh until they cried if they could see this version. I am one of those people who likes to have everything done in advance, weeks before the due date. Instead of resting when it's done, I double check for errors and tweak anything that needs it. So I had a really hard time trying to figure out how this fit my pattern. But then I drew the Clover, which generally means good fortune or an opportunity, but it is short-term only. That's when the shoe dropped. I can't stand to poke people I've hired to do something when they don't do it as specified. But if they have a good reason for doing things differently and explain it logically, I'm okay with that. This morning I had an email from a woman about my lojong deck. When I went to Printer Studio for a link, I noticed they had increased the price of the deck by more than $10! I didn't want to get into an ongoing, back-and-forth communication with them, but neither did I want anyone to be overcharged for the deck. The Clover reminded me that things can work out if I'll do my end of the work (contact them) and not put it off. I have done so, and now I'm hoping to hear their explanation soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In Need of a Mind Shift

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Ten of Staves; from the Viking Lenormand, Bouquet:
          Jackson's Ten of Wands looks even more onerous than the Rider-Waite's heavy bundle on the back. His booklet states it suggests the "danger of an established power becoming oppressive." (At this point I'm chanting in my head "please don't let Trump get elected."). I'm purposefully not watching the Republican National Convention on television, yet I can't get away from its rhetoric. This particular card illustrates well the themes of this group:

  • Make America Safe Again - Be terrified! Arm yourself with guns and ammunition! Build a wall! There are people out to get us!
  • Make America Work Again - Don't give us your excuses; all Americans have the same opportunities! You're just lazy and don't have any ambition!
  • Make America First Again - We want to be the school-yard bully among nations! We want to have it all (we're God's chosen nation, and therefore we deserve it more)!
  • Make America One Again - As soon as you adopt our beliefs and our agenda, we'll all be on the same page!
I'm not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but at this point the election seems to be a decision between someone who is sane and someone who is so far off the charts even the DSM has no category to put him in. Thankfully the Lenormand Bouquet shows up to remind me to focus on what is good and positive in my life instead of being influenced by the fear-mongering. If I feel provoked or overwhelmed, I need to change the channel in my head and reflect on what is simple but beautiful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Discerning Knowledge

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, Temperance; from the Viking Lenormand, Book:
          The colors this angel wears suggest to me two extremes: the fiery passion of our beliefs, values and opinions (red) and the innocent mind that goes along with the flow (white). Jackson calls Temperance the supreme combination of opposites, which in this case might be called discernment. Living on this earth requires the ability to make decisions and act on them, so going with the flow (while sounding serene) is not always an option. If there are situations in my world that are unjust, harmful or destructive, I need to step out of that flow. On the other hand, completely operating from my preferences or prejudices places a veil in front of reality. All my preconceptions can keep me from seeing with clarity. If I am discerning (the middle way), I will be able to see what is actually unfolding without blinders. The Book suggests knowledge and information based in fact. There is so much fear and paranoia, hate and blame in the world right now, but most of it seems based in ignorance. It is easy for me to let my emotions outrun my intellect, and not ask myself, "Do I absolutely know this to be true?"
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. 
Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Readjust the Focus

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Knight of Coins; from the Viking Lenormand, Lily:
          Maybe I'm just in need of breakfast and coffee, but this fellow's coin looks a lot like a loaf of Serbian slava bread. For someone who is supposed to be laboring in the fields, the garments he wears are quite dressy and his horse is standing still. The Knight of Coins is known for being a responsible, detail-oriented guy who will get the job done right. Perhaps it is a loaf of bread he holds. Instead of working he's celebrating, because the fields have been harvested. (A bit of trivia: "Slava" means celebration and involves honoring a family's patron saint.) Marking the end of one season's yield with a special occasion sounds justifiable to me. Lilies always remind me of my grandmother, so I tend to lean towards the "wisdom, elders and maturity" interpretation of this Lenormand card. I think those who are older and wiser are more likely to pause and celebrate life's little victories instead of waiting for something huge to happen. Life is too short to stay focused on what is bad or wrong in my world; I'm better off looking for the small things to celebrate and appreciate whenever I can.

ETA: It dawned on me after posting this that August is coming soon, as is Lammas ('loaf-mass'), a harvest festival. :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Listen to the Messenger

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Eight of Staves; from the Viking Lenormand, Fish:
          The swiftly moving runner with a message in his hand parallels the Rider card I drew yesterday. Besides the emphasis on speedy events, Jackson suggests it is also about an optimistic communication. He seems to be running toward the school of sardines on the Fish card, which generally indicates resources or a business transaction. Both made me think of hearing from the lawyer that we retained after the accident. I drive this guy crazy, I have no doubt. After seeing pictures of my battered and bruised body, I'm sure dollar figures were swimming in his head. But I don't really want to sue anyone, I just want them to pay for the ambulance, ER and doctor bills. But he has been a help in getting me to the doctor, which in turn led me to another option for the huge hematomas I sustained (laser treatments rather than needle aspirations). I suppose he is worth listening to!
You advised him not to get a lawyer, giving as one of your reasons the opinion that lawyers are a pain in the ass. Gentlemen, the pain is here. (Reggie Love)
John Grisham, The Client

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Watch Out for Nimrod Thinking

This week I'll be using the Nigel Jackson Tarot, created by Jackson and published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the Viking Lenormand, created and self-published by my dear friend Carole Beasley. The draws this morning are Tower and Rider:
          This Tower looks much different from most, with no falling bodies and a giant eye in the sky. Jackson explains that this is the Tower of Babel, built under the direction of King Nimrod of Shinar. According to the KJ Bible, the kingdom as a whole decided to construct it: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves." So basically this project wasn't about wanting to commune with Jehovah, but a desire to be recognized and be in the spotlight. Their Lord wasn't pleased with their prideful ways, so he caused them all speak in different languages (the ensuing confusion ended their venture). All humans - even the most introverted - crave some level of attention and have a need to feel special. Yet pride sets us up in competition with other people. As C.S. Lewis stated, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man." The Lenormand Rider trots in with a message of caution: self-worth built on material possessions or acclaim won't last. What we have or do will quickly be topped by someone else. He reminds me to stop competing and comparing and enjoy each moment, because even the bad ones won't last forever.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

From Color to Black and White

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Empress; from the Rumi Cards, The Moon kisses secretly:
          I looked at this Empress and thought, "Something's wrong." Then I realized it was her gown; instead of having bright red pomegranates, hers is gray and black. All around her is vibrant color and abundance, but she's in that gray place, where it feels like the joy has been sucked from the marrow. She is supposed to be a generous and open spirit, a Creatrix, a tender nurturer and a lover of the sensual. Yet this Empress is only going through the motions, doing what she is supposed to do, while her glowing light fades. The Rumi card hints at what may gently push her back to technicolor again - gratitude. But it's extremely hard to feel genuinely grateful when you don't feel great. Tell someone in the gray zone to write down what they appreciate about life, and you'd better duck because a journal might suddenly fly at your head. Affirmations may poke the conscious mind, but don't make a dent in the unconscious. A 2010 study in Psychological Science found that individuals were more likely to successfully complete an action if they phrased their affirmation as a question.  Clinical psychologist Sophie Henshaw suggests that using interrogative self-talk instead of declarative statements can help make the unconscious our ally. Questions can probe for answers, activate our curiosity and remind us of our resources (gratitude!). Our inquisitiveness can help us look at ourselves objectively and honestly without battling our thoughts and feelings. When we’re relaxed and open with what we find, a better attitude and positive behavior will more likely follow.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Love Mercy, Act Justly

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, Justice; from the Rumi Cards, Through love:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8 

          The combination of these cards made me reach into my biblical memory bank for this verse from Micah. I personally don't believe there can be any balance or equality without an equal serving of compassion and justice. In the words of Robert D. Lupton (founder of Focused Community Strategies), "Mercy without justice degenerates into dependency and entitlement, preserving the power of the giver over the recipient. Justice without mercy grows cold and impersonal, more concerned about rights than relationships." His mention of power and rights illuminates the obsession most Americans have with both. Even when doing what appears to be a charitable act, the effect can be to keep an imbalance of power in place. A wider perspective can be seen in this quote by Pema Chodron: "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." I think this is where the last part of the verse above - 'walk humbly' - comes into play. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Still Time

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, Death; from the Rumi Cards, Whatever you look for, you are:
Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows 
an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it.
Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows 
a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves. 
~ Dhammapada (Eknath Easwaran translation)

          When the Buddha spoke of the mind, he wasn't just referring to thoughts, but also feelings and volition. The mind's habitual patterns shape the kind of experiences we'll have in this life. Both these cards made me wonder what would be engraved on my gravestone (or stuck on my Folger's can, since I plan to be cremated). Imagine that an accountant could add up my entire life's thoughts, feelings and motives, then would use the top thing of each category as my epitaph. Would it read, "she thought most about checking her emails and texts?" Would the ranking of my feelings be topped by resentment or by compassion? And what would dominate the motive behind my actions - selfishness or benevolence? Skully on the death card reminds me that there's still time to leave behind some of those unflattering habits.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fuel Mix

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the Rumi Cards, If a tree could only walk, it wouldn't fear being chopped down:
          Life is challenging, no doubt about it. And if I'm trying to achieve a goal or make progress with a project, there will likely be distractions and frustrations along the way. Some of these may be external, and some may be due to inner struggles. But no matter what kind they are, my challenges can refine my understanding and encourage me to grow beyond my cocoon of comfort. Perfection is not a necessary ingredient; in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do whatever comes your way to do as well as you can." Rumi's quote reminds me of the "if only" trap I can get caught in when a challenge comes up. Just as a tree can't walk, neither can I go back and rewrite history. Other than learning from my mistakes, it's a waste of time to dwell there. The orange background of both these cards are a combination of red and yellow. Red suggests energy and courage while yellow symbolizes the intellect. Instead of complaining about reality, I'd do better to have a mixture of confidence and cognition in my fuel tank.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cracking the Crown

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Tower; from the Rumi Cards, "Dazzle:"
          Oh look, another cheerful card from the Albano-Waite. But before I roll my eyes too far up in my head, let me take a closer look. Besides the obvious - the burning building and people tumbling down - there is large crown that is falling from atop the tower. This design is known as a closed crown; rather than simply circling the head, it has bands of metal that cross over the top. It is a wonderful symbol for a power that operates with a closed mind. Such minds can be vulnerable to a rude awakening when what they've invested their stability in (education, money, status, relationships, etc.) suddenly falls apart. But these spiritual experiences aren't meant to crush a person to dust or elevate them to sainthood. As Julia Cameron explains, "Far from making me feel different and special, my [spiritual] experiences made me feel the same, ordinary, and interconnected." We descend from the tower and find ourselves on common ground with all other beings. The Rumi quote describes the time required for the formation of a ruby and implies internal change that occurs over an extended period of time. The Tower can get our attention and redirect our focus, but ongoing growth will move at its own pace.
Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the "educational variety" because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.
~ AA "Big Book" 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Get to the Point

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the Rumi Cards, "After Enduring:"
          I had to smile when I saw that I drew this card - I have an appointment with my chiropractor today. Besides pointing out the obvious, it illustrates well my tendency to overthink things while analyzing a situation. I like to look at a problem or challenge from multiple angles, do research and devise a strategy. Unfortunately all that intellectual effort doesn't really get much done in the real world. It makes me think of comedian Steven Wright's statement: "A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking." Sometimes my best thinking is like a dog chasing its tail; the wisest action I could take would be to get an outside, objective opinion. Rumi's quote says, "You'll only enjoy the City and your relations after enduring the griefs and ordeals of exile." The Sufi poet points out the habit of humans not to appreciate something until we don't have it. That would include the ideas of others rather than just my own. The booklet for this deck suggests, "After all you have been through, joy and prosperity will taste even better." And I bet I won't take them for granted so easily either.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Head Down, Heart Open

This week I'll be using the Albano Waite Tarot, a recolored version of the RWS created by Frankie Albano and published by U.S. Games. The oracle deck I'll be pairing with it is the Rumi Cards, created by Eryk Hanut and Michelle Wetherbee and published by Tuttle Publishing. Today's draws are the Ten of Wands and 'Broke Apart:'
Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.
~ Samuel Johnson
          I'm attempting to see this guy carrying his load of wands in a more positive light. His home is in sight, and he'll get to rest from his burdens soon. My family and I have suffered traumas of the mind, body and heart lately. We're supposed to have all my MIL's belongings out of her apartment by the end of this month, and we still have roomfuls of furniture, clothing, knick-knacks and kitchen items left to pack and move. Paperwork for settling her estate is ongoing. We're meeting with the Geico adjuster (of the woman who hit me) tomorrow to see what they will pay out for my totaled car. While most of my bruises are beginning to fade, the body pain remains. Wearing a seatbelt makes me wince; the swelling from the multiple hematomas will take time to dissipate. In the midst of this craziness, I'm using a phrase my FIL often said as a restaurant owner as a mantra: "Keep your head down and your tail up." In other words, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing what you can do and not worrying about what you can't. 
          The Rumi card reads: You touched the egg of my heart: It broke apart. The bird of heaven is opening its wings. The first time I rode in a car after the accident, I was terrified and wondered how in the world I would ever drive again. But another thought came too: "This is what people with PTSD must live with all the time." When my heart can embrace the pain of others with compassion instead of shutting down and swaddling itself in self-pity, then it will have a chance to heal and be made whole again. So many people are fighting much harder battles than what I have gone through; our suffering is our common bond. Can you guess what my spiritual principle to focus on is for this month?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Abstract to Actual

From the Le Veritable Tarot de Marseille, the Ace of Swords; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Xi:
          Again I've drawn another "seed" card, but this one involves expressing myself through ideas and words. The Swords suit requires boundaries, and in this case necessitates that I indicate clearly what I mean. Having blogging buddies around the world has helped me understand why this is important; yet even Americans from different locations might not comprehend a local colloquialism. The other day a friend (originally from another state) called to ask how I was doing. When I replied that I was "stove up," she had no idea what I meant. The Greek letter Xi reinforces this need. It originated from the Phoenician letter samek, which is thought to be based on the glyph of a tent peg. Tent pegs anchor the structure into the ground, make it stable and keep the sides from collapsing inward. In the same way, I may need to use a grounded, everyday example to explain what I mean. Jesus of Nazareth did this well with his disciples by using parables about ordinary situations and people. Both draws today encourage me not to assume someone will understand what I'm trying to express. Instead I can construct my ideas around a concrete example.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

From Le Veritable Tarot de Marseille, the Lovers; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Rho:
          Bursten writes that some parts of human nature just won't succumb to force or rationality. In this illustration, the older woman with the laurel crown represents Virtue and the woman with the flowers in her hair symbolizes Sensual Desires. Whoever the man is looking at when Cupid lets loose his arrow will be his choice, and at the moment that would be Virtue. Emotions tend to short-circuit our ability to think logically; some salesmen are adept at getting potential buyers overly excited and enthused for this reason. But the good news is that emotions don't last forever, and eventually the rational side of the brain will awaken. This is where the Greek letter Rho comes in, a symbol used to denote a former Rhodes Scholar. If we can learn, as Margaret Mead put it, "how to think not what to think," it's likely we won't be so completely caught off guard when emotional decisions arise.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Magic Beans

From the Veritable Tarot de Marseille, the Ace of Pentacles; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Mu:
          According to Bursten, Coins involve obtaining and providing for oneself while the Aces are like planting a seed that will grow. Today I feel like Jack's mother who discovers her son has traded the family cow for some magical seeds. I've lost quite a few physical things lately, and this Ace feels like a slap in the face. I don't want to start over, to have to "regrow" what once was. But unfortunately life is doesn't give us do-overs; we just have to deal with reality as best we can. Which brings up the Greek letter Mu, which also happens to represent an important quality in Zen Buddhism. Mu (Wu in Chinese) can't be easily defined in English but may perhaps be understood as "not applicable." Robert Pirsig ( Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) suggests this word is useful when one's understanding of the context of the question needs to be enlarged. He writes, "Because we're unaccustomed to it, we don't usually see that there's a third possible logical term equal to yes and no which is capable of expanding our understanding in an unrecognized direction." Mu reminds me that my focus on the past is neither helpful nor relevant to this Ace; I need to widen my perspective. And who knows, those beans just might sprout into something wonderful.