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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reassembled Parts

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Toltec Oracle, Ehekatl:
          Sixes are generally about restoring harmony, and this card from the Motherpeace Tarot indicates different parts of the self have reconciled into a whole. I think of it as cognitive dissonance, the mental stress one experiences when trying to hold on to contradictory beliefs, attitudes or behaviors. The discomfort becomes so great that these ideas or conduct must be altered to restore balance. For instance a gay woman might work for a boss who constantly makes snide remarks or hateful jokes about homosexuals. She eventually decides to find another job with a more open-minded employer. The Toltec card - Ehekatl - can literally be translated as breath, spirit or wind (similar to the Hebrew word ruach). For me, this represents the part of myself that is greater than the ego; I prefer to call it the luminous mind. This part does not seek pleasure, power, fortune or recognition but perceives impartially with wisdom and compassion. When dissonance makes me feel miserable, the luminous mind can guide me in making saner choices that will reassemble me in a healthier whole.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Adding and Subtracting

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Seven of Discs; from the Toltec Oracle, Mikistli:
          The Seven of Discs represents growth but also waiting. The down time allows an opportunity to assess how things are going and what changes might need to be made. When I look at the woman sitting among the melons with her swollen, pregnant belly, I want to ask her, "Are you ready for this?" Whether it's enlarging one's family, expanding one's business or adding to one's daily duties, it pays to be prepared for the changes that will be unavoidable. Mikistli (Death) for the Toltecs was not an enemy of life but a partner. Death represented an ending, but also a time for embracing what was new. The woman in the last stage of pregnancy will soon have her life irrevocably changed. Her choices will soon be dictated not just by what she wants to do but also by what benefits her little one. What happens in the world will now be viewed through the lens of raising and protecting a child. All additions require a letting go of something; we can only cram so many clothes in our closet, pieces of furniture in our house and hours in our day. Adding necessitates subtracting.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Loosening the Mind

From the Motherpeace Tarot the Shaman (King) of Swords; from the Toltec Oracle, Kuetspalin:
          The Shaman/King is a source of both power and experience. The four-petaled red flower is the four directions, implying she is able to see all facets of a situation (not just what she would prefer). The ladder with the kite perched on top suggests she understands the long-term effects a decision will have, and how it will impact all people instead of a select few. Noble describes her as having an 'unloosed mind,' meaning she is able to think and perceive beyond assumptions, prejudices and opinions. The Toltec card, Kuetspalin, means Lizard; it was considered a guardian of the temple and a guide for the shaman. Above all, it grounded the shaman and prevented him from losing his connection to the earth. When dealing with the intellect, it is easy to get lost in arguments and ideas that don't really have much to do with real life - with what is useful and beneficial all people. I am reminded by these cards of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement and the white folks who adamantly reply, "All lives matter." They have missed the point, which is that white privilege protects and offers opportunities to those of us with white skin that those with black skin don't have. If all lives matter, we need to act like it by making sure no one is oppressed simply because of the color of their skin. Below is an excerpt of an article written by Lori L. Hutcherson for onbeing.org giving examples of what white privilege is (which doesn't have anything to do with how open-minded and loving someone is); these are just a few incidents of many she's experienced:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tender Touch

This week I'll be using the Motherpeace Tarot created by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble and published by U.S. Games. As a companion to the deck, I'll be using Noble's book Motherpeace. The other deck I'll be using this week is the Toltec Oracle deck and book set, created by Victor Sanchez and published by Bear & Co. Today's draws are the Six of Discs and Ketsalkoatl:
          The illustration of one woman using healing energy on another made me think of how important gentle, physical touch can be in the human world. Some instances that I know of are:
  • Reiki offered to patients in 'chemo chairs' as they let chemicals drip into their bodies.
  • The presence of a friend who sits next to another while she anxiously awaits news.
  • Tender caresses given to an elderly person, particularly one in a nursing home.
  • Giving a hug or holding someone after a great loss (no words needed).
  • Rocking a distraught child.
While none of these things make the problem disappear that caused the distress, it is amazing how something as simple as physical contact with a caring individual can help restore our equanimity. Ketsalkoatl - 'feathered serpent' - symbolizes the integration of opposites (in this case, the eagle and the serpent). Consider all the things that create conflict and cause imbalance: the things we cling to and don't want to release and the things we push away and don't want to accept. Perhaps the physical presence of a compassionate person can help us find that integration and balance. Then maybe we can embrace the whole of life instead of just the parts we like.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eagle Eye

From the Sacred India Tarot, the King of Arrows (Swords); from the American Pen Oracle, Terry McMillan:
          Arya has chosen Garuda to represent the King of Swords, the cosmic eagle and mount of Vishnu ("The Preserver and Protector"). Garuda was known for his speed, martial prowess, and great strength. Massive enough to block out the sun, he was an enemy of the serpent deities and fed exclusively on snakes. That last bit of information made me think of the phrase "snakes in the head," a phrase describing persistent, crazy-making thoughts. Such speculation makes a person so afraid he can't look at his beliefs long enough to separate what's valid and what isn't. What could be better in such a situation than to have an eagle or sword to separate those dire emotional feelings from the truth? McMillan offers her wisdom along the same lines: If you jump to conclusions, you make terrible landings. She makes a good point; if I am reacting (or hiding) based on a reality seen through an emotional lens, I'm going to end up in a deeper pile of poo than if I'd just dealt with the facts from the beginning.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Positive Production

From the Sacred India Tarot, the Queen of Staves; from the American Pen Oracle, Flannery O'Connor:
          Swaahaa is the wife of Agni (Vedic god of fire) whose name must be said to purify any offering to the fire. She is considered to be the personification of Shakti, the feminine energizing principle of the universe. Analogous to the concept of Sri ('expanding radiance'), she contains the power that helps others creatively manifest according to their natural abilities. The Queen of Staves' energy and optimism help others to be confident when following their passion. Her belief is that one should tackle a project with wholehearted dedication rather than half measures. O'Connors words of wisdom give an extra bit of fire to the Queen: You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission. When I get enthused about a new creative idea, I have a tendency to plan, buy stuff, research, buy more stuff, redo my original plans, etc. What I often don't do is get started and make progress; I get stuck in the preparation stage. Both these women strongly urge me to do something constructive that actually produces a material object.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Awareness of the Past

From the Sacred India Tarot, the Six of Lotuses (Cups); from the American Pen Oracle, David Ignatow:
          Parvati, daughter of the mountain lord, wanted to marry the god Shiva. But Shiva was content to stay deep within his meditation, even going so far as to burn up the love god Kama when he showed up with his bow and arrow and interrupted him. Parvati finally figured out that her beauty would never impress Shiva, only spiritual practice. She began performing tapas ("to heat") - rigorous ascetic practices designed to burn away past karma. Her intense, inner cleansing did make Shiva take notice, and he accepted Parvati as his wife. This version of the Six of Cups reminds me of the 12 Step "searching and fearless moral inventory" that is required to be able to see patterns of past behavior and realize what part a person played in how his or her life unfolded. Choices and actions based on fear, anger, pride and self-centeredness are examined. The process is not meant to bring shame but awareness and illumination; it allows a new, liberated way of life to begin. In a poem to his daughter, Ignatow writes: When I die choose a star and name it after me, that you may know I have not abandoned or forgotten you. His words make me wonder what others will remember about me when I am gone. Will it be acts of kindness or acts of frustration and resentment that shine from the darkness? Though I can't rewrite the past, I can learn to live more mindfully in the present.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back to the Hoe

From the Sacred India Tarot, the Seven of Discs; from the American Pen Oracle, Eudora Welty:
          The Buddha was reluctant to teach his friends the Middle Way, but not because he wanted to keep it for himself. While the teaching was simple to explain, the application of it was difficult. Yet like the Seven of Pentacles (RWS) farmer who pauses to assess his crops, Buddha's friends had observed and noted a great transformation in him. In Deer Park, Buddha acquiesced, sat down and shared what he had come to realize through his own experience - the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Buddha encouraged them to take stock of their own lives: "One by one, little by little, moment by moment, a wise man should remove his own impurities, as a smith removes his dross from silver." (Dhammapada) Like the farmer resting on his hoe, there was more work to be done once their original assessment was over. Welty's words of wisdom are a warning not to rest on one's laurels: Never think you've seen the last of anything. When I arrogantly think, "Oh, I've got this," I'm likely to miss the pests that will sneak back in given a chance - resentment, fear, despair and ignorance. Like any good farmer will tell you, no pause is meant to last forever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guardian of Wealth

From the Sacred India Tarot, the King of Discs; from the American Pen Oracle, Mario Puzo:
          The King of Pentacles/Discs is represented by Kubera, the god-king of nature spirits. In the Ramayana, Kubera is mentioned as one of the four guardians of the world (North); his domain is the mountains where repositories of mineral wealth are found. His responsibilities include guarding and distributing wealth properly. At times he is pictured on a goat rather than an elephant to warn those who are greedy. Humans have a strange relationship with money and prosperity: if you have too much, you're a selfish money grubber; if you have too little, you're an unmotivated, lazy slacker. I think Ecclesiastes has a more realistic, balanced view when the writer tells us to mix some joy and friendship in with the 'toiling under the sun.' The words of Puzo add to this wisdom: Time erodes gratitude more quickly than it does beauty! Perhaps gratitude is what truly makes us feel rich, no matter if we have a lot or a little. And that kind of attitude can make me a more generous person who is willing to share rather than hoard what I have.

Monday, August 22, 2016

On the Move

From the Sacred India Tarot, the Page of Staves; from the American Pen Oracle, Jack Kerouac:
          The Ashwini Kumaras were handsome young twins (who also happened to be Vedic gods) of the Rigveda. These golden horsemen were born of a sun god and cloud goddess and were always on the move, as they symbolized sunrise and sunset. They were well known for helping the unfortunate (having a tender regard for the suffering of humanity), though they had a mischievous, playful side as well. These two represent the charming yet restless and Page of Wands. Arya describes this Page as being difficult to pin down, enthusiastic and creative, while always shooting off in a new direction. It would be nice to have this kind of energy and fearlessness, but I'm not sure much progress would be made with such a limited attention span. This assessment is reinforced by the words of Kerouac: I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. Just because I'm bursting with enthusiasm and have numerous innovative ideas doesn't mean much will come of them (often it does just create more confusion). I've got to settle down enough to get somewhat organized, make a few plans and then prepare to follow through with action.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Consumed with Consuming

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 the American Pen Oracle, a deck I made for personal use that includes quotations from American poets and writers. Today's draws are the Knight of Discs and Mary Oliver:
          The face above the Buddha is Kirthimukha, an all-devouring monster created from Shiva. A personification of the raw hunger of insatiable desires, Shiva tricked it into eating itself in order to stop it. Left with only a head, Kirthimukha became known as the Face of Glory and is often seen above temple doors as a guardian and reminder. Arya writes, "Life feeds on life, no matter how monstrous that may seem at first glance." All of nature, from the smallest living thing to humans, use other living things to survive. Everything is a resource for something else. Yet even in death, things are recycled to create or nourish life. As the Knight of Discs, this card asks me if I am more concerned with consuming or whether I put effort into sustaining and conserving as well. The quote chosen from Mary Oliver reads: Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. The part of himself Shiva discovered that wanted more and more is a shadow side contained within me as well. But Oliver suggests this darkness can also bring light. If I truly recognize this part of myself, I can realize that what I use to live also affects the whole web of life. Such knowledge can either make me greedier (thinking there won't be enough for me), or more cautious and appreciative of what I consume. The gift is not in greed, but in gratitude and guardianship.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Digging Wells

From the Legacy of the Divine, Faith (Hierophant); from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Snail:
          Religious leaders are shown here praying or meditating as they face a shining, gold column - a symbol of the chosen source of their devotion. I have a friend who is a retired Episcopalian priest who says, "There's an underground stream, and everyone digs a different well to it." In other words, people try to make sense of the spiritual then add a label and doctrine based on their understanding. But according to research, the "Nones" (those who are unaffiliated with any organized religion) are growing. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) seem to be driving this movement. Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology, explained this trend: "Many Millennials have parents who are Baby Boomers, and Boomers expressed to their children that it’s important to think for themselves – that they find their own moral compass. Also, they rejected the idea that a good kid is an obedient kid. That’s at odds with organizations, like churches, that have a long tradition of official teaching and obedience. As a result, they are more likely to have a 'do-it-yourself' attitude toward religion." Though I resonate with the Buddhist philosophy, I too am digging my own well. The Snail appears to tell me not to be in a rush. Though being a part of a group often makes us feel safe and not so lonesome, it makes no sense to have a faith that is blind.
In Buddhism, faith isn’t seen as a commodity we can stockpile, or something we need to have enough of, or the right kind of or we’ll be condemned. Rather, it is a process that unfolds as self-respect deepens, our insistence on knowing the truth for ourselves strengthens, and our willingness to question and wonder leads us on. ~ Sharon Salzberg

Friday, August 19, 2016

Committee Meeting

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Bird:
          After being lauded and recognized in the Six of Wands for meeting challenges successfully, the Seven of Wands appears to show just how fleeting those accolades can be. This fellow has almost passed the threshold, when he suddenly discovers a pack of naysayers coming up behind him. Personally, the mob who threatens my confidence and ability is more often in my mind than the outer world. Some of those inner committee members go into great detail about what I'm doing wrong. A few others (in a whiny voice) complain that it's just too hard and recommend I quit. All of them have high expectations and a low tolerance for mistakes or failure, which is why they think they're protecting me in some twisted way. But Bird shows up from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards to bring a more positive message. It suggests that just because I may need to redo or tweak some things, I don't need to throw in the towel just yet. Above all, kindness and a sense of humor will serve me much better than the heavy burden of expectations.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

In the Thicket

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Ten of Wands; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Fish:
          This man has landed himself in a thicket of briers with a heavy load on his back. There have been several occasions when I found myself in such a place:
     ~ My enthusiasm led me to take on more than I could reasonably handle.
     ~ My desire to please let my mouth say 'yes' when my brain was shouting 'no.'
     ~ I saw things that needed to be done that no one else offered to do.
     ~ I wanted things done 'right,' so I decided to do them myself.
When I'm struggling through my own patch of briers, it's easy to blame others for the struggles I'm going through. Looking back, however, it's easy to see the responsibility firmly rested on my shoulders. Now I try to pause before diving in and ask: Is doing this realistic? Am I being honest? Have I actually asked for help? Am I being a perfectionist? The Fish card shows up with a meaning of prosperity and abundance. Isn't that what often drives us to take on more than we can handle? Maybe not just from a financial standpoint, but also because we want people to like and think well of us? I need to be truthful and ask myself if all the stress and effort is worth the result. If it is, then I can take on the mentality of another fish - the salmon - and persevere in my endeavor.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Get Your Study On

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Eight of Coins; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Elephant:
          I recognize the studious face on this man as he tries to figure out how to turn an idea into a reality. But when you're a fledgling instead of the master of a craft, it is necessary to devote quite a bit of time to study, practice and attention to detail. Developing knowledge and a skill set is similar to nurturing a child as he or she grows (and requires just as much patience). I've decided to try and create another self-published deck, but this one will be sketched instead of photographed. I don't think I would have even tried to do this had I not taken part in JJ's 52 sketches challenge. The randomly picked themes to draw or paint were way off the beaten path of what I would normally do. Yet pushing myself beyond my normal boundaries helped me sand off some of my rough edges and gain confidence (and JJ was a great mentor). My ideas are usually better than what I have the talent to actually draw, but being able to do something creative with them feels good. The tea leaf Elephant made me think of the Hindu god Ganesha. This deva of intellect and patron of arts and sciences is most commonly known as a remover of obstacles. The Elephant reminds me that an obstacle isn't always what it appears to be; rather than just a cause of frustration, it can be an object of learning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Forced Reflection Time

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Hanging Man; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Clover:
          We all have those situations when life feels it is on hold, sometimes for a longer period than others. It might be an injury that sidelines us from work we love, or it could simply be waiting in a long line that doesn't seem to move. Occasionally the cause is inside us, like a creative block that we can't push out of the way. The mask that falls from the Hanging Man suggests that when placed in this stagnant status, others often see our true colors. Yet the mirror that shows a toppled hourglass is a reminder that this is a good opportunity for inner reflection instead of focusing on the cause of frustration. What can be learned from being in a powerless position? Do I feel like this is some form of personal punishment, or do I realize everyone struggles with such irritations? Am I still trying to control a situation? The Clover hints that I won't be hanging here forever. But sometimes in order for that new opportunity to present itself, a change must come from within.
I feel utterly powerless, and that feeling is my prision. I entered of my own free will, I locked the door, and I threw away the key. 
― Haruki Murakami

Monday, August 15, 2016

Windshield or Bug?

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Five of Swords; from the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, Tornado:
 Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
~  Mark Knopfler 
          Well it's pretty obvious the guy holding all the swords isn't the 'bug.' But even if he won the battle, he's left nothing standing in his wake. Was this to make sure his enemies wouldn't be able to launch a counterattack? Or was he simply making a point that he was the best and smartest, and they should never forget it? The smoke and flames in the background remind me of the phrase 'burning bridges,' an expression that means leaving yourself no alternative but to continue on the present path. The tornado card indicates rapid movement that destroys everything along its trail. That doesn't sound like a plan of strategy to me, but rather an impulsive reaction. It reminds me of someone who goes to court in order to ruin someone else, wins the case, and yet spends all his resources in the process. Being impetuous may sound daring and exciting, but thoughtful deliberation before action can leave more than rubble and ruined relationships when it's all over and done.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Experience of Water

This week I'll be using the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, created and self-published by Ciro Marchetti. I'll pair with it the Tea Leaf Reading Cards, created and self-published by Karin Dalton-Smith. Today's draws are the Ace of Cups and Handcuffs:
          A chalice sits on the bottom of an ocean floor, and represents the potential for love and emotional fulfillment. While love is most often thought of as a feeling, it is created by actions such as kindness, patience, and selflessness. In a letter explaining this to his daughter, Richard Dawkins wrote: "All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn’t purely inside feeling...There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence." Yet the Handcuffs card suggest there is restraint or blockage to such fulfillment. The two fish around the cup remind me of a story. One fish asks another, "How's the water today?" The second fish looks at this first and says, "What the heck's water?" Just being on the receiving end isn't a relationship of love - that's only narcissism. The real deal isn't about how I feel, but what I do. Can I recognize opportunities (the water around me) to act from the heart, especially when someone isn't very kind? Or am I so preoccupied with how everything affects me, that I fail to see beyond my own orbit? My cup will be filled when I offer tenderness to others without expectation; this softens my heart and makes it capable of gratitude. Then I'll begin to understand what the experience of water is all about.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cave Time

From the Gaian Tarot, the Four of Air (Swords); from the Goddess Oracle, Amaterasu:
          It's interesting how when we rest the mind, the body gets a break too, because it lets go of the tension it holds. While sleep might seem an obvious way to relax, that rarely works with me. I have to find some way to occupy my mind with something that doesn't require much heavy thinking. Yesterday morning I took a long walk, and last night I did a bit of crocheting and 'mind candy' reading (a novel for pleasure). Rather than sacred space, this is sacred time - a necessity for my well-being. Amaterasu is a sun goddess from Japan; she hid in a cave after being offended by her crude brother-in-law. But the sun can't stay locked away forever without dire consequences, so another goddess used humor and Amaterasu's curiosity to draw her out again. I've been in that cave too. Yet sometimes when I withdraw, it can become so comfortable that I don't want to go back out again. I can prefer my isolation to dealing with people. But boredom usually makes me peek out again. I want to talk about what I've seen or read and learned; I want to share a laugh. And my fellow humans can show me the way out.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Active Wisdom

From the Gaian Tarot, the Priestess; from the Goddess Oracle, Durga:
          The receptive stillness of the High Priestess is balanced by the energetic action of Durga. In my personal practice, there are three stages of meditation: calming the mind, training the mind and receiving the wisdom that comes from the open, spacious mind. But once I accept the wisdom found there, the ego can slip back in and try to keep me going in circles by continuing to analyze it over and over. To prevent such an intellectual response, Durga shows up riding on her tiger with weapons in all eight hands. In Hindu mythology, Durga was created by the gods because they couldn't defeat a demon (demons represent traits that prevent spiritual progress). Her name means "invincible," and she was victorious in her battle. As these two cards illustrate, I must first recognize and acknowledge the power that habitual ways of thinking and acting have over my life. As Eknath Easwaran stated, " For the most part, our thoughts think us, our feelings feel us; we do not have much say in the matter." To be content with knowledge only would mean to continue to let these powers guide everything I do. Yet instead I can begin to transform them and actively make different choices.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Flexible Friendships

From the Gaian Tarot, the Two of Cups; from the Goddess Oracle, Vila:
          I've always had pets, because I enjoy the unconditional love they offer in a relationship. Human companionship, however, is a bit more difficult. Often we come into a relationship with an expectation of what we think we're going to get out of it, not what we're going to bring to it. But good friends aren't just those who tell us what we want to hear and go along with whatever we want to do, but those folks who can tell us with gentle honesty what we need to know and push us beyond our comfortable cocoons. I need to be able to look outside my own personal interests and opinions, which can be helped along by having friends. Vila is a Eastern European nature spirit whose energy moves through the earth in various forms:
I am flexibility
for by changing my form
I freely flow with whatever comes my way.
How many friendships are lost because we have expectations built around them? If someone changes their belief system or priorities, does that mean I have to drop them? Not if they are comfortable allowing me to maintain my own values without judgment. And by sticking with them (being flexible and open in my thinking), I might just gain a deeper understanding of what is important to them and why. If I can accept them without prejudice, I might learn to see the world through a wider lens.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"No Biting!"

From the Gaian Tarot, Strength; from the Goddess Oracle, Oshun:
          "No biting!" was the phrase I heard when I pulled this card. When children are between the ages of 1 to 3, this is a defense to which they often resort. With three grandsons, we have used that admonition a lot. My exasperated husband even asked the vet for a couple of "will bite" stickers at one point. As adults we learn to use words instead of teeth to express our displeasure, but words can be used as weapons too. What is said can often leave more damage than an actual bite and take longer to heal. The lovely, serene woman on the Strength card cautions me to pause and take a breath instead of lashing out. Oshun, the Brazilian goddess of the waters, was known for her love of beauty. She seems to invite the woman and her lion to come enjoy the sensual side of life, letting their senses be given time to play. The five senses can be used to short-circuit my emotional brain when it becomes impatient, frustrated or angry. Take a moment to answer these questions:
  • What beauty or wonder makes me pause with appreciation (here now or elsewhere)?
  • What smell makes me close my eyes with enjoyment?
  • What feels delightful against my skin?
  • What makes me smile when I hear it?
  • What taste makes me sigh with pleasure?
If you mindfully went through those five questions, I bet there was a brief moment when your emotions were calmed like the resting lion. Oshun is right - focusing on the senses can bring me pleasure and serenity.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Handful of Water

From the Gaian Tarot, the Star; from the Goddess Oracle, Inanna:
          How do you experience hope and healing? Where do you find grace? For me it is in the most ordinary of things: the natural world, laughter shared with friends, music and other arts. I know this little pool under the stars well. I find myself lying beside it after being convinced that nothing I do matters, that my life has no purpose other than living on a daily treadmill. What wisdom does this woman see in her handful of water, I wonder? I came across this quote by Andrew Cooper on Tricycle that might shed some insight: "Faith must ripen through uncertainty and doubt. It must open us to something larger than our concepts, for these arise from within the limits of the self. Faith must, in the end, leave room for mystery." My ego prefers certainty, not doubt or mystery. It likes me to stick to certain roles and labels: good daughter, good wife, good mother, good friend. The kingfisher beside the water is a hint I'll be required to dive deeper. Inanna, Sumerian Queen of Heaven, discovered her shadow side in the Underworld.
She was all that I am not
All that I have hidden
All that I have buried
She is what I have denied.  
Inanna encourages me to embrace my whole self without regard to labels. It doesn't mean I need to run through the streets like a crazed, angry woman. Instead, I can acknowledge all my inner parts and see what is useful in them. What I try so hard to repress may be what can help me heal and bring me hope.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Transitional View

From the Gaian Tarot, the Wheel (of Fortune); from the Goddess Oracle, Nut:
          The seasonal trees, the phases of the moon and the sun signs all illustrate change in this card. Robert Frost puts it succinctly: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." It would be nice to accept Frost's philosophy, but humans have a hard time with change. When it's good, we  hold on tightly and never want to let go. When it's bad, we are dragged along and resist with all our strength. Powell asks the question, "Can you see that what is happening does not happen in isolation, but is part of a pattern?" There is no personal reward or punishment involved in this kind of change, it is just a natural cycle. The butterflies suggest I transform my view of such transitions, which leads to Nut, Egyptian goddess of the night sky. Marashinsky writes:
I am the ever-present unfathomable unknown
I am the immensity of the star-filled sky
I am beyond human comprehension
Humans like to learn, define and label because it helps them make sense of the unknown. Facts and figures make us feel safe and convince us our world is stable. Nut however suggests we embrace the mystery of what we don't know and understand and enjoy the wonder of it. What begins, ends, and begins again in a new form is simply a part of the whole. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Outsmarting Reality

This week I'll be using the Gaian Tarot, a deck and book set created and self-published by Joanna Powell Colbert. I'll also be using the Goddess Oracle, a deck and book set created by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and illustrated by Hrana Janto. Today's draws are the Tree (Hanged Man) and Minerva:
          The tree pose in yoga requires that one foot be firmly grounded while the other rests on the inner thigh. Balance is found when the gaze is soft but focused on a still point. But in Powell's version of the Hanged Man, the foot that is supposed to bring stability hangs in the air from a tree.  How stable is the air? I am reminded how I often try to out-think reality - an impossible feat. There are some things that I have no control over, no matter how much brain power I use. If I remain still and receptive, I might see from a new perspective beyond the ego's illusion. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, comes to point out that my old beliefs aren't working very well and perhaps need to be discarded (or I can choose to keep hanging upside down). It is hard to watch people make decisions that are not healthy (or in the case of the presidential election, not sane). But my jurisdiction only covers my decisions, attitude and actions, not those of someone else. Trying to figure out why they do and think as they do is a wasted effort and another illusion of power (thinking I can change them if I understand them). It would be better to focus on my own stuff instead of getting distracted by the drama in everyone else's life.