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, November 30, 2017

Turned On Its Head

From the Roots of Asia Tarot, the Five of Pentacles; from the Mah Jongg Oracle, 'Unicorn:'
          In the Dhammapada (Buddhist scriptures), chapter 23 is called "The Elephant." A well-trained elephant could be used in battle (steady even when pierced by arrows) and in parades (unfazed by celebratory crowds). The elephant represents great strength and power - the same qualities that can be found in a well-trained mind. But here, the elephant has been turned on its head and the potential lost. The booklet calls this card 'impoverishment' (spiritual or material), a term that brings to mind HALT, an acronym of things to be aware of:
  • Hungry - Am I feeding my body regularly with good, healthy food? Am I feeding my mind with 'junk food' (ex. nonstop news), making it crave more instead of the nourishment it needs?
  • Angry - Do I allow the energy of my anger to pass, instead of being reactive and simply adding fuel to the fire? Is there a physical cause that is making me overly sensitive? Do I need a 'time out' to cool down?
  • Lonely - Am I isolating because I have submerged myself in an emotion? What small thing could I do for another person that might help me get out of my head and back in the company of others?
  • Tired - Am I multi-tasking, not getting enough sleep or taking on too many responsibilities? Can I take time each day to relax my body and mind so that both parts can get some rest?
The Unicorn is associated the ability to foresee events, but instead of being a clairvoyant gift, it is simply from the practice of prudence. Prudence is being wise and practical when it comes to managing resources, and there is no greater resource than the body we ride around in every day. Today I intend to give mine more gentle attention, no matter what is going on around me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Seed in the Backyard

From the Roots of Asia Tarot, the Page of Pentacles; from the Mah Jongg Oracle, the 'Sword:'
Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure. 
― George Carlin

          The Page of Pentacles is definitely a 'wet paint' toucher. He (or she) learns by the test of doing, not by accepting someone else's description of their experience. Which is probably why this Page has just planted a seed in a field. He knows it's supposed to grow into a tree (note the hair), but he will test it out and see for himself. He'll check how certain amounts of sun, water and fertilizer affect it, as well as the particular climate of this region. The Sword card represents a quandary, a problem that seems to have opposing solutions or options. One thing scientists have learned about humans is that we hate uncertainty; we are willing to do crazy things to find the security of solid ground. Yet in this life, there are few absolutes that can be generalized to cover everyone. There is no 'one size fits all' in this world of experience, and like the Page of Pentacles, we need to learn what works in our own backyard. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep On Keepin' On

From the Roots of Asia Tarot, the Three of Wands; from the Mah Jongg Oracle, the 'Fisherman:'
          Three lotus seeds have sprouted: one with its bud closed, one beginning to open and one if full bloom. The booklet describes this card as 'consciousness of experience;' in other words, we need to stay awake to what's happening. When we have that first bloom of success, whether in the field of work or a personal arena, its easy to focus only on that particular event. We forget that we need to nurture and sustain other seeds we've planted, because we're so thrilled with what has worked out in our favor. The 'pink cloud' effect may convince us that we have arrived and can now sit back and enjoy life. But when that bloom eventually fades, what will become of the others if we have neglected them? The Fisherman represents patience, a trait that most people associate with restraint. However it also includes the recognition that we're no more special or entitled than other people (Do they get to be complacent without consequences?) as well as endurance (persistent effort). As my mother-in-law used to say, "keep on keepin' on."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Burdens of the Mind

From the Roots of Asia Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Mah Jongg Oracle, 'Pine:'
          At first it seemed these swords rested at the bottom of a valley, which made me think of the phrase "it's all come down to this." But the valley is actually bird wings, and these swords weigh down the wings of a giant bird. The booklet calls this card 'burdens of the mind.' But what is interesting is that the swords rest on the hilts, suggesting there is no hard evidence to ground the thoughts that are producing such misery. It may be that I've taken a past chapter from my life and decided that since things are slightly similar, the same events are replaying themselves. Or I might have some information that I've blown out of proportion, and now I'm mentally living in the future - a worse case scenario that hasn't even happened. Pine was considered a useful tree because it was used to make charcoal to purify drinking water and to make ink for writing. It reminds me that using a journal to write down my thoughts can often help clear my mind. I can see where I'm making assumptions and projections that aren't based in reality but have become stuck in my head by the emotions that accompany them. Staying in the real world can be much more beneficial than living in a fantasy one.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Work of Making Space

This week I'll be using the Roots of Asia Tarot, created by Amnart Klanprachar with Thaworn Boonyawan and published by AGM Müller. I'll also be using the Mah Jongg Oracle, created by Derek Walters and published by Thunder Bay Press. Today's cards are the Five of Cups and the 'Woodcutter:'
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, and that one is prepared, in the end, to be defeated, and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals. ~  George Orwell

          I know that people are imperfect, yet I still slip into making assumptions and having expectations about them. There was the friend who was so full of enthusiasm for life yet was secretly cheating on his wife. There was the spiritual leader who let slip a racial slur. There was the boss who praised hard work but never gave a raise. Disappointment comes in many guises and may feel like an icy-cold shock or a slow-sinking dread. A feeling of loss and sadness (and perhaps anger as well) permeates everything. In this version of the Five of Cups, the two whole bowls stay anchored in the mind while the other three are cut loose. It reminds me to keep my mind focused on what is good while realizing that everyone (including me) has both positive and negative traits. The Woodcutter from the Mah Jongg deck chops wood that may be used in building or to warm his home. But effort must come before the enjoyment. The same is true of dealing with emotional loss in that I must work to make room to process the hurt while not shutting out the sunlight at the same time.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Light in the Lantern

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Hermit; from A Curious Oracle, 'Mudra:'
          This is such an interesting portrait of the Hermit; instead of holding the light outward, he holds it close to his face. This card makes me think of a personal inventory, taking a look at the causes and conditions that have shaped my life. 'Causes' are simply a necessary ingredient (like the acorn that can create an oak tree). 'Conditions' are the circumstances that make it possible for the the cause to develop and grow (intentional actions). I'm basically a conditioned being. Yet Joseph Goldstein explains there is a way to break this chain of conditioning:
If there’s something pleasant, we want it; something unpleasant, we desire to get rid of it. But if instead of ignorance in the mind there is wisdom and awareness, then we experience feeling but don’t compulsively or habitually grasp or push away. 
What is my relationship with my world? The answer will provide the light for the lantern. In Buddhism, mudras are hand gestures - a form of non-verbal communication and inner resolve. I think the Hermit would choose Buddha's 'earth-touching mudra,' a gesture made when he awakened. It represents a combination of skillful means (wholesome choices) and wisdom. In other words, I stop focusing on blame, start looking within and begin to make more mindful decisions.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Make Your Own Meatloaf

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Knight of Fire (Wands); from A Curious Oracle, the 'Crypt:'
          Nothing quite says 'adventurous' like riding atop a flying, small-engine plane while holding two torches aloft. The Knight of Wands is an adrenaline junkie; he thrives on daring feats and tackling impossible challenges. In his world, 'risk' is not a word spoken in hushed whispers, but yelled with enthusiasm from the rooftops (from which he will likely jump with a self-made parachute). Though his weaknesses are a lack of common sense and a failure to follow-through on projects, he can teach me to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. Of course I don't need to replicate this guy's definition of different and exciting; as I was telling a friend the other day, we each have to "make our own meatloaf." The Crypt card's keyword is 'slumber,' a recognition of what's missing from such a nonstop lifestyle and the physical and emotional toll it can take. Sometimes chaos and risky behavior can be a distraction from dealing with the hollowness or lack of purpose I feel inside, and then the adrenaline can truly become an addiction. It is only when I'm willing to pause and quiet myself that I can see what is missing. Then perhaps I can find a solution rather than a temporary escape from my distress.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ride Your Own Wheel

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from A Curious Oracle, 'Orange Grove:'
"The inventory was ours, not the other man's," says the Big Book on page 67. On the other hand, it is a time-honored axiom that we often see the faults in others that we ourselves have, so perhaps when we take someone else's inventory, we are really taking our own. ~ AA Grapevine

          The chaotic color and design outside this Wheel made me think of how often I focus on other people rather than attend to my own thoughts and actions. If I'm frustrated or unhappy, I often look outside myself to find someone else or a situation to blame it on. Yet these experiences may be mirrors that simply offer a reflection of me. For instance, I might judge someone as opinionated and inflexible, but an honest look within will show that I have issues that I'm just as stubborn about too. The Orange Grove has been assigned the keyword 'fidelity;' oranges have long been a symbol of love and marriage. Renaissance paintings of couples, such as Van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, sometimes have oranges placed discreetly in the background. This card suggests that I be true to myself by paying attention to what motivates me to think and act the way I do. That's enough of a job without worrying about why other people are the way they are.
Image result for thanksgiving
The Buddha encouraged us to think of the good things done for us by our parents, by our teachers, friends, whomever; and to do this intentionally, to cultivate it, rather than just letting it happen accidentally.Ajahn Sumedho
Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's Just a Phase

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Moon; from A Curious Oracle, the 'Sun:'
          Vivid, bizarre dreams. Interrupted sleep. Overly-sensitive feelings. The phases of the moon represent the changeable moods we experience, sometimes because of outer stresses and other times because of buried information rising from the unconscious. Often it is the stress that triggers the released memories. The Grinch in me wants to write a snarky post because of the dark mood that engulfs me every holiday season. Yet I can emerge from these feelings if I remember and practice the words of Toni Packer:
  We are not the different states and feelings, moods and tempers succeeding one another. All of it comes and goes lightly, cloud-like, without leaving a trace, when thought doesn’t identify with any of it.
The Sun card is assigned the keyword 'recognition.' With clarity I can realize that I am not my emotions. When I stop identifying with them and narrating stories around them, they will pass. When I cease wishing things were or weren't a certain way, I can drop the cinder blocks tied to my waist and float, no matter what the tide.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Feeding the Mind

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Queen of Air (Swords); from A Curious Oracle, 'Alchemy:'
          The Queen of Air feeds a group of crows, each representing different ideas and bits of information. What do I feed my mind with on daily basis? Once I turn on the computer, I've got news from friends and family as well as news from the world at my fingertips. I attend several groups where people share opinions and beliefs, and I am always reading books and magazines to educate and develop myself. In a world over-run with a variety of media, it's easy to experience information overload; I must be aware of how much absorb, taking in only what is beneficial and leaving the rest behind. Alchemy is a medieval philosophy and early form of chemistry based on purifying, maturing and perfecting substances. Not only was it focused on base metals, but human consciousness as well. DeFount describes this card as an intentional rather than accidental transformation. What do I do with the knowledge I mix together in my head? Is it used to make me feel better about myself or smarter than other people (fertilizing my ego)? Knowledge that smugly sits stagnates; knowledge mindfully applied transforms. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Spending or Spent

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Four of Earth (Pentacles); from A Curious Oracle, 'Nazar:'
          Though most RWS versions of the Four of Pentacles show a miserly sort of fellow, the apple tree in this card suggests a healthy, common sense approach to my physical world. With one apple in her basket and the other three still hanging on the tree, the implication is not to spend all my time, energy or money in one area. As Black Friday looms in the near future with Christmas not far behind, I can see how this wisdom would apply. Though I'm not one to run up a credit card bill, I can overspend when it comes to energy and health. I can hear my chiropractor now, "Stop sitting on the floor when you wrap presents!" Nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to ward off injury or misfortune. The irony for me (because I don't believe in such things) is found in the name, which means 'attention' or 'surveillance.' When I'm in a hurry, focused on the future rather than what I'm doing at the moment, is when I'm most likely to make a mistake or hurt myself. Perhaps the real meaning of that eye is just to remind people to keep theirs wide open in the here and now.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Changing Flow

This week I'll be using the self-published Wayfarer Tarot, created by Stacy Salpietro-Babb with Margaret Shipman. I'll also be drawing from A Curious Oracle, self-published and created by Holly DeFount. Today's draws are Six of Air (Swords) and 'The Torch:'
          These birds appear to be migrating to a nearby island. Their flight reminds me of the huge flocks of blackbirds that come to the southern U.S. in autumn. Over farmlands and neighborhoods, hundreds of birds can be seen in the sky undulating like a black ribbon fluttering in the breeze. Because they are unlike geese who fly in a V formation and honk loudly to each other on the wing, researchers have been puzzled as to how blackbirds are able to stay so closely together. Thanks to high-speed imaging and algorithms, scientists discovered that each bird keeps track only of its six neighbors and coordinates its movements with them. That fact made me question how many thoughts I am consciously aware that I'm thinking. Could I tell you the last six thoughts I had? It's doubtful. But if I could (meaning paying more attention), I might be more willing to migrate from them to more wholesome and beneficial thoughts if necessary. The Torch has been given the keyword 'intentions,' which is like a map of how to move in the direction of one's aspirations during any given moment. Meditation teacher Phillip Moffitt explains it much better than I can:
Setting intention, at least according to Buddhist teachings, is quite different than goal making. It is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are "being" in the present moment. Your attention is on the everpresent "now" in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giant Swords, Angry Geese

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Goose:'
          Nope, there's not an elephant in the room, but a giant sword separating this couple. In my imagination, they got a tax refund; she had plans for a vegetable garden, but he spent the money on a widescreen TV. The Seven of Swords is often described as 'lone wolf' behavior, a sure way to wreck any relationship. The sword represents truth but also communication. Judging by all the snakes at their feet, they need to stop pouting and start talking. At any rate, that cat doesn't look like he's willing to put up with much more of their childish behavior. The Goose represents protection (as anyone who's ever been chased by one of these hissing, wing-flapping birds can attest). Looking at that couple I want to ask each of them, "Whose interests are you trying to protect, your own or those of both of you?" The first is simply self-absorption, and the second is true partnership.
Love and concern for all are not things some of us are born with and others are not. Rather, they are results of what we do with our minds: We can choose to transform our minds so that they embody love, or we can allow them to develop habits and false concepts of separation. ~ Sharon Salzberg

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Real Riddle

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Seven of Cups; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Nuthatch:'
          In Greece, the Sphinx (literally meaning 'to squeeze') was part woman and part lion with the wings of a bird. It was said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes; travelers who wanted to pass through its gates had to answer a riddle correctly. In the Seven of Cups, the riddle isn't so much in what cup to choose, but how to bring about the emotional change represented by the chosen cup. If I want to feel good about my body, I might buy exercise clothes, equipment and healthy cookbooks. That's the fun part, right? But I haven't answered the riddle until I actually realize I must do something with those things to find that fulfillment. I've heard the nuthatch called 'the upside-down bird' because it often descends head-first and hangs upside-down beneath branches as it looks for food. It reminds me to be flexible in how I think and what I am willing to do. Unhealthy habits or patterns don't get interrupted without a willingness to change.
Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character.
Sow a character and you reap a destiny. ~ James Allen

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lone Lion or Flock

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Six of Wands; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Waxwing:'
          An arch has been created by these six wands, watched over by a hatted lion and an eagle. The lion illustrates the strength and power that was needed to accomplish this goal, while the arch suggests that this victory is a stepping stone to other challenges. I was curious about the letter 'N' at the top; it could simply mean the direction north or it could be the chemical symbol for nitrogen (used in both fertilizers and bombs). I'd bet on the chemical. The eagle implies freedom and far-sight. Though this 'win' brings more opportunities, discernment will be needed to choose those that are worth fighting for. Waxwings show up here in the South during their winter migration. They are one of the few species of birds that can survive for months on berries. They gather by the hundreds where fruit is found and pause long enough to strip the shrub or tree clean. I am reminded by the waxwing that if you don't mind sharing, any endeavor done with a group can mean more support and fun.
Working together in concert more smoothly not only helps us move more quickly; it changes the nature of what we can undertake. When we have the confidence that we can orchestrate the group effort required to realize them, we dare bigger dreams. ~ Justin Rosenstein

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


From the Jolanda Tarot, the King of Pentacles; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Song:'

Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.
~ Rene Dubos
          To assess what kind of ruler this fellow is, we would need only to look at how the choices he's made affect those around him. The orange tree in his hand reminded me of the Thomas Fuller quote, "He that plants trees, loves others besides himself." He probably treats those in his kingdom like what he grows - nurturing and protecting while also training and pruning. The naga that forms a protective hood over his head shows he is worthy of respect (and the jaguar loincloth that he won't tolerate anything that endangers his people). He asks me bluntly, what are you using your resources to cultivate? How will your actions shape yourself and your environment? The Song card is associated with the 5th or throat chakra. In balance, it is similar to one of the Buddhist precepts: I vow not to engage in false speech but to speak and listen from the heart. I can speak my truth, but I need to do it gently and with compassion. Sincerely expressing my gratitude can be a way to nourish others. My 'song' - what I say and how I say it - will create either loamy or rocky soil.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hold on to Your Brain

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Bird Signs deck, the Pelican:
          The woman attached to the bull with a sword down her center is a bit disturbing in this version of the Hierophant. My first thought was that both she and the bull were to become a sacrifice. But what is being sacrificed is not her body but her mind. In order to join any group, no matter whether it is of the religious, political or intellectual variety, we are generally required to adopt a new way of thinking. In a few cases this may be beneficial, but often it includes staying between narrow lines without using straying outside of them. The parrot makes me think of 'parroting' the group's dogma. I believe people are drawn to such groups because it makes them feel safe; there's a rule and specified action for nearly everything. But what if one's experience doesn't line up with what is being sold as truth? And is it a good thing to have to leave your brain at the door to be spoon fed doctrine? Being open-minded doesn't mean we have to give up our common sense too. The Brown Pelican is a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of bird. They feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up in their pouch-like bills. They observe then act, and would suggest I do the same. As the Kalama Sutta encourages:
When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’ — then you should enter and remain in them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Not So Common

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Eight of Swords; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Dove:'
          Forget the Angry Birds, these folks have incoming angry bees. But why are they standing outside instead of running indoors? When life feels overwhelming with no apparent solutions, the first thing to disappear is often our common sense. It helps when I can remember the basics when I'm in this place: Have I gotten some rest, eaten a healthy meal and exercised my body lately? Have I talked to someone (other than the squirrel that runs circles in my mind)? A second opinion means one that doesn't originate from me. The Rock Dove (aka rock pigeon) may appear drab and useless, but it was the bird that carried messages for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I and II. No matter where it is released, it will find its way home. It reminds me that I need to have a guidance system too - a philosophy or spirituality that can provide direction when I feel lost. It doesn't have to be a specific one, just one that works for me. These birds reuse the same nest over and over without cleaning them out; their nest often contains unhatched eggs and mummies of dead nestlings. When I feel out of options, one of the best things I can do is start fresh by getting rid of all my assumptions and ideas that things must be a certain way. It turns out that Voltaire knew what he was talking about when he wrote, "Common sense is not so common."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spiritual Alterations

This week I'll be working with the Jolanda Tarot, created by Jolanda Den Tredjes with Hans Arnold and published by AGM Müller. I'll also be using the oracle set Bird Signs, created by G.G. Carbone with Mary Ruzicka and published by New World Library. The cards drawn today are Judgment and 'Crane:'
          In the Jolanda version of Judgment, a woman doesn't just awaken to the call of trumpets, she gives birth to a whole other being. She's gone from living life like a billboard - with her opinions and demands plastered everywhere - to seeing life clearly. No longer living in her head of ideas about how things should be, she's come back to a direct experience of being. She's undergone a profound alteration in how she previously reacted to life. The Whooping Crane, so named for its bugling call, is the tallest bird in North America. These monogamous birds perform an elaborate and energetic courtship dance, made even more impressive with their seven foot wingspan. Because of the crane's dance, it has been given the keyword 'celebration.' If I have some form of spiritual experience, I don't need to run about and try to impress the world with my new-found wisdom or vision. If that's how I respond, then I haven't really awakened at all. An inner celebration of gratitude might be a better, more humble choice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Waiting for the Fog to Lift

From the Spirit Within Tarot, the Moon; from the Answer Deck, 'Ending:'
          Bright writes that the Moon conceals as much as it reveals, creating confusion. Add to that the wolf, who represents the reptilian part of the brain bent toward survival at all costs, and the domesticated dog, who symbolizes our socially trained side that doesn't want to look bad in front of other people. This card suggests having enough information to make us want to hit the alarm button, but not enough facts to prove our assumptions. I was talking to someone yesterday who had gotten a 'tweet' from a friend that disturbed her; she didn't know whether to take what was sent as a barb or a joke (and without facial expressions and tone of voice, there was no hint either way). Of course the wolf and the dog sides in her took it to be a passive-aggressive taunt, so she became upset. It took some back and forth communication to smooth things out. If I can keep an open, curious mind, what has been misunderstood can eventually be cleared up. The Ending card shows the sun as it begins to rise above a dark landscape. There's no need to give in to fear or react to that uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty. If I can be patient, clarity will come.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mix It Up

From the Spirit Within Tarot, Temperance; from the Answer Deck, 'Journey:'
          A disc jockey stands in front of an audio mixer that allows him to combine music in various ways: seamless segues, 'scratching,' and harmonic mixing. In some cases there is an equal mix and in some cases there isn't, but the result is always different than the original two options. While Temperance often suggests a moderation in our behavior, I was reminded by a quote from Mark Twain that it also can point at our thinking. Twain wrote, " It is discouraging to try to penetrate a mind like yours. You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would take some of the rigidity out of it." Indeed, dance out those sticky cobwebs that make everything look black or white and set in stone. The Journey card reminds me that my life should not be simply compartmentalized in beginnings and endings, successes and failures. The 'doing' is more important that the outcome (to borrow a phrase from Arthur Ashe). As I travel along this road, do I pay attention to someone other than myself? Do I smile, offer kindness and look for beauty? Can I enjoy my trip around the sun and let humor soften the hard places? Mix it up, this young fellow tells me.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


From the Spirit Within Tarot, the Page of Pentacles; from the Answer Deck, 'Reconciliation:'
          I'm a lot like this Page in that I'm a 'hands-on' kind of gal. If I were trying to learn a new game, I might read the instructions, ask questions of someone who's played before and watch a game in action. But until I actually give it a go myself, I won't quite grasp the whole of things very well. There's just something about the 'doing' that makes the pieces click together in my brain. As much as I like hanging out in the intellectual playground, it's the practical, in-the-moment, real world where I feel most balanced and centered. It won't be a surprise then to tell you I'd rather meet someone in a coffee shop for a conversation than trade texts, emails and voicemails. This preference is even more important to me if there is an amends to be made or a misunderstanding to iron out (as the Reconciliation card implies). Besides, I can't actually hug someone over a phone.
To celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation means to be wrapped in a warm embrace.
~ Pope Francis

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Justice vs. Judgment

From the Spirit Within Tarot, Justice; from the Answer Deck, 'Barrier:'
          I appreciate that Bright's Justice holds the sword of truth higher than the scales. It seems lately that people just want to keep the peace, and so concessions are offered to make both sides be quiet and settle down (at least temporarily). Things may appear to be in balance, but it's really just a band-aid on a gaping wound. For there to be true justice, facts must be uncovered and examined. The truth can be hard to deal with, particularly when rights have been trampled or responsibilities have been ignored. Patiently sorting it out can seem like more trouble than it's worth. The Barrier card suggests being boxed in, which fits well with a quote from Emmeline Pankhurst: "Justice and judgment lie often a world apart." While justice relies on clarity and objectivity (mental spaciousness), judgment can be influenced by preferences or prejudices which we may not be aware we hold. It's no wonder a jury is made up of several people instead of only one. It often takes many viewpoints to see all sides of a situation.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


From the Spirit Within Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Answer Deck, Vulnerable:
Emotions are symptoms of a person’s engagement with life. ~  Michael Schreiner 

          I grew up with a stepfather who allowed anger, but would not tolerate sadness and tears (they were seen as a sign of weakness). Other friends grew up in homes where anger was completely unacceptable (bad) and sadness was considered a side of compassion. Most people are taught that 'happy' is the state we should be in all the time. Yet as Schreiner says in the quote above, all emotions are a normal part of life, and each eventually ebbs over time. Yet the Vulnerable card shows what happens when we lose all perspective and self-identify with the emotion. We disengage from life and imagine we have no control over anything. Schreiner suggests that such a reaction is "an unconscious form of rebellion" because what we want doesn't sync up with reality. We suffer because we push back at life as it is, yet the bridge of acceptance continues to wait in the distance whispering, "Perhaps there is a better way."

Monday, November 6, 2017

To Bring Back

From the Spirit Within Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from the Answer Deck, 'Anxiety:'
It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
          There is something special about meeting someone and feeling an instant connection that tells you, "Yes, this could be the beginning of a great friendship." At first it may seem to be based on shared ideas, hobbies or experiences, but usually there is something deeper that tugs at the heart. For me, it is a feeling of being at ease, knowing I only have to be myself (and allow the other person to do the same). Of course the initial meeting is really the easiest part. The Anxiety card represents what the care and keeping of a relationship in the long term can bring up. No matter how much people enjoy each other's company, differences will arise. How they are handled can sink or keep the relationship afloat. The Latin root of the word 'relate' means 'to bring back.' What is it that I bring back? I bring back openness and honesty, forgiveness and kindness, encouragement and compassion.