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, January 31, 2018

Who's Pulling the Strings?

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Two of Swords; from Transforming Dragons, 'Chump:'
           A person looks at a mirror made of two sword blades. There is an internal conflict, so it seems unusual for a person to look at their reflection for answers. It reminded me of a phrase I heard over and over as a child: "What will people think?!" I would bet many people have that same tape in their head, and that it often produces choices and actions that aren't healthy for them. Perhaps if this person were to become still and quiet, the inner voice not connected with the ego could lend some guidance. Those who are always looking to please rather than follow their own principles often wind up as Chump. They look to others to provide them with a 'fix' - approval and acceptance - and base their self-worth on the accolades or criticism they receive. People who say 'yes' to everything normally don't do anything well; either they are so overloaded with promises to be kept that they can't remember them all, or they don't have time to do any of them efficiently or effectively. Even worse, they lose hold of their internal compass and embody the words of Margaret Thatcher:
If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Road to the River

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Seven of Disks; from Transforming Dragons, 'Fluc:'
Well I might have gone fishing 
I got to thinking it over
The road to the river is a mighty long way
~ Willie Nelson 
          The generations that came after the Depression Era all seem to have one thing in common when it comes to reaching goals - impatience. Perhaps it's technology that makes us think things should occur in a hurry. However we can't rush the natural flow of life. Yet the Crone's companion book offers some wisdom: "Every turn of the road brings discovery." If we could just pause along the way and pay attention to what's around us, there's no telling what wonders we might find. On the other hand, if we focus only on our destination rather than where our feet are, we're likely to become frustrated by our progress. The dragon Fluc represents rage; he is often at the root of much of our suffering. When this kind of anger is unleashed, it might appear to speed things up. But I've noticed it tends to create resentment, often resulting in a passive-aggressive reflex by the folks who felt the brunt of the rage. They may intentionally produce more obstacles and detours as pay-back. If I can't communicate in a calm, rational way, then I'm going to be the major cause of my lack of movement. The road to the river is going to get even longer.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Flip Side

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Seven of Swords; from Transforming Dragons, 'Ogrostov:'
          The companion book assigns this phrase to the Crone's Seven of Swords: "I travel roads no one has seen. I create worlds of joy and pain." It suggests the amazing talent of the mind to imagine what was and what might be. It can replay moments in the past that still shred our heart into tatters or create a peaceful beach with the sounds of waves crashing onto the sand. Imagination can be our creative muse or the demon that keeps us in dark places. Ogrostov believes that no one is ever in a position to tell him what to do. He represents arrogant pride with a mind open only to those who readily agree with his ideas. Anyone who has that much false pride is likely to also have an equal amount of deep-seated fear. Both these cards remind me how much I am grateful for lojong, a Tibetan form of mind training. Through such training, the unwanted obstacles in life become the raw material for awakening. Pema Chodron explains how it can benefit both the mind and heart:
It is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others. If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them. True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.

Sunday, January 28, 2018


This week I'll be using the Tarot of the Crone, a book and deck set created and self-published by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. I'll be pairing it with Transforming Dragons, a set created by Sonia Cafe and published by Weiser. Today's cards are the Beast (Page) of Swords and 'LuLing:'
          "I go where the road does not" is the phrase used to describe the Beast/Page of Swords. Going 'off-road' means seeing, hearing and learning beyond what's considered traditional knowledge. It allows for personal exploration too. From high above, the crow gets to see a wider perspective instead of relying on a narrow, individual one. According to the booklet, LuLing represents enlightened wisdom. Pema Chodron describes the ego as 'what resists reality.' To be enlightened means simply to see reality as it is instead of through the lens of craving. Rather than being some blissed-out state, it's a place of calm and compassion that allows us to be with both joy and pain. Knowledge won't give us the keys to Shangri-La, but using it to work with reality can be helpful. It works especially well if it's not filtered through the ego but comes from our basic goodness - the innate openness, warmth and wisdom of all beings.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Floating on Feelings

From the Mary-El Tarot, the King of Cups; from the OH Cards, 'Cut/Wrong:'
          This King is Fire of Water; put those two together and things get steamy. Now this can be the good kind of steamy (passion) or the not-so-good kind (like the shrill scream of a tea kettle). As he floats among the lily pads, he reminds me that I can handle my emotions in three ways: become submerged by them, float with them or completely remove myself from them. If I'm below water, I leave behind my logic and discernment. If I step out of the water, I'll have objectivity but lose my tenderness of heart. Yet if I can float, neither attached nor detached from the feelings flying around, I can maintain composed and calm while dealing with what is happening. The two OH cards suggest a wrong cut has been made. I've cut relationships out of my life for two reasons: either they were unhealthy and dangerous or because they hurt me and made me angry. Based on outward appearance, there can be a very fine line between these two situations, yet the motives behind each are different. In the first case, the heart is not closed but action is taken to prevent physical or emotional injury. In the second case, hurt gets transformed to anger (a less vulnerable feeling) and the other person is completely cut off as punishment. Like this steamy King suggests, healthy relationships require mindfulness of my own feelings rather than simply making assumptions about someone else's motives.
We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior. 
Stephen M.R. Covey

Friday, January 26, 2018

Dragons and Demons

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Six of Wands; from the OH Cards, 'Hug/Fail:'
          White has painted the Archangel Michael for this Six of Wands, with the admonition to "slay your dragons, conquer your demons." The challenges outside of ourselves are our dragons, while our demons are our conditioned reactions (our propensities). The demons are much trickier and harder to deal with. Look at anyone's bookshelf and they're likely to have numerous self-help, philosophical or religious books to help them deal with life in a more wholesome and skillful way. White includes a quote from the Kybalion that points at why this often doesn't work: "The possession of Knowledge, unless accompanied by a manifestation and expression in Action, is like the hoarding of precious metals - a vain and foolish thing." But what happens when you do try and fail? The OH Cards combination implies finding someone who will encourage us to keep trying. Most people have an inner 'demon' whose name is 'Just Give Up.' If we listen to it instead of trying again, we definitely won't meet any challenge, no matter how much knowledge we have. Skill only comes through practice.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Language of the Heart

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Six of Cups; from the OH Cards, Music/Naked:
          The angel in this card appears to be changing into a crustacean. In the Thoth tradition, the Six of Cups represents a return to pleasure and harmony after experiencing great depths of despair. Such depth of emotion can't help but transform us, hopefully making us grateful but also giving us a new perspective. It is like holding one's breath underwater beyond the point of comfort and suddenly coming up for air. In the words of Pema Chodron, "The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." The OH Cards combination of Music and Naked suggest a way to keep the heart open and tender (though I can think of a few song choices that might have the opposite effect!). Music speaks the language of the heart. It can help us identify those emotions swirling within us and connect with them on a physical level. As Victor Hugo wrote, "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Wild Horse

From the Mary-El Tarot, the King of Swords; from the OH Cards, Whip/Guilt:
          A keen observer who is intelligent and analytical, this King's name is Reason. Speaking with him can be as intimidating as staring into the face of an actual dragon. He cuts through emotional drama and our cozy cocoon, showing us clarity whether comfortable or not. The King's purpose is not to punish but to help us see reality without blinders. I think he would heartily agree with Sakyong Mipham's description of what our untrained minds are like:
The bewildered mind is like a wild horse. It runs away when we try to find it, shies when we try to approach it. If we find a way to ride it, it takes off with the bit in its teeth and finally throws us right into the mud. We think that the only way to steady it is to give it what it wants. We spend so much of our energy trying to satisfy and entertain this wild horse of a mind.
The quote comes from Mipham's book titled Turning the Mind Into an Ally. That title implies the mind can be other than our friend, which the OH Cards combination of Whip/Guilt also suggests.  While appropriate guilt can encourage us to make amends and restitution, neurotic guilt simply makes us miserable. The King would likely tell me not to believe my thoughts unless I can back them up with hard evidence. Otherwise I'll be riding that wild horse with no saddle or bridle.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

On Rock or Sand

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Four of Disks; from the OH Cards, Connection/Hide:
          Being a Thoth cousin, Mary-El's Four of Disks represents established security, stability and comfort. The painting reminds me of the biblical tale of the two house builders - one who built on sand (which was washed away) and the other who built on rock (which stood firm). White suggests that by settling what is outside (physical), we will settle what is inside (mental/emotional). Nine times out of ten, when it seems everything is going to hell in a hand-basket, we attempt to find refuge in the mind rather than in the body. We spin our wheels trying to think ourselves out of a situation rather than focusing on our bodies and our immediate environment - what we can realistically care for and deal with at the moment. The OH cards suggests two other way we may respond when feeling unsettled. Holding hands with another offers guidance, support and comfort. It gives us a connection to other humans and is a reminder that we don't have to walk alone. At the other extreme, hiding isolates us from this resource of caring people; it generally makes us feel lonely and separated from everyone else. Even when life is chaotic, there are skillful choices we can make to help us find our center.

Monday, January 22, 2018

It's Fluid, Not Solid

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the OH Cards, Amputation/Father:
          At first glance, White's Ten of Swords makes me think of the Death card, but in one sense that is what is happening. Her booklet describes this card as a liberation from 'mental prisons.' I'm currently taking an online course with Pema Chodron that includes lessons about how we self-identify with our emotions and stories that challenges bring. Chodron has chronic fatigue, which is similar to having the flu all the time. She describes how easy it is to add suffering on top of it instead of just being with the painful experience itself:
Just that, that’s enough, but the majority of us, we don’t just leave it at that. Then it’s like, “But I used to be able to do all of this, and I could do all these things, and now I can’t do any because I’m in bed all the time.” So the pain of having the illness just gets exaggerated by feeling so disappointed that your identity has been demolished. And then along with that is what everybody else is going to think of you now, because they always thought I was this great accomplisher, and now I’m this sickly person who can’t do anything. It’s the thoughts that are like the bricks and mortar of our personality, that keep it solid and don’t allow us to experience the dynamic, fluid quality. 
When part of it is true (the experience itself), it's easy to believe and identify with the emotions and stories that are just passing through the mind and are not actually solid and permanent. Amputation/Father is a good example in my case. I've had three fathers in my lifetime, and I've created a self-identity around each one: my biological father (the abandoned child), stepdad #1 (the abused stepchild), and stepdad #2 (the accepted stepchild). What a lighter load I would carry if I could just say "Yes, that happened" rather than carrying the heaviness of those self-created stories.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Most Difficult of Tasks

This week I'll be using the Mary-El Tarot, created by Marie White and published by Schiffer. I'll be pairing it with the OH Cards, created by Ely Raman and Joe Schlichter and published by Eos Enterprises. The OH draw is actually two cards - one a picture and the other a word. Today's draws are the Lovers and Policeman/Threat:
          What a beautiful rendition of the Lovers - a union that breaks the barriers of age and race. What is it that makes two people love each other? Beauty, sexual attraction, a feeling of completeness, common beliefs... these may cause the initial spark, but time changes everything, including people's looks, emotions and ideas. Lasting love (beyond the emotional feeling) includes a mutual intention held by each partner to invest themselves in the well-being of the other. Even when we're tired, cranky or overwhelmed, we have each other's back. The Policeman/Threat combo seems to caution these lovers about the potholes and speed bumps they're going to encounter ahead. I can almost hear him asking, "How have you nurtured your connection today - physically, mentally and emotionally?" According to some psychologists, shared, positive emotions can be 'banked' and drawn on when the relationship hits a rough patch. Today might be a good time to check the balance in that savings account.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Two Forms of Fear

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the Devil; from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Hissy Fit:'
          There are two fears represented by this Devil. The first is the very real fear of an innocent black youth being trailed by a police cruiser. The second fear comes from the cop himself, watching someone who doesn't look like him out walking in the evening. His fear isn't based in fact, but in layers of assumptions, generalizations and prejudices. If the young man runs, the policeman will think his beliefs are justified. Fear based in ignorance can be dangerous; in this case, it primarily hurts others in its periphery. As Edmund Burke stated, "No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear." The Southernism phrase is "Don't pitch a hissy fit." The descriptor 'hissy' is tied to the word 'hysterical' and indicates an outburst or temper tantrum. It generally happens when someone feels entitled and doesn’t get their way. The 'entitled' part of this definition is important. Add power and privilege to fear, and the results can lead to great harm. Unfortunately, if the mind is full to the brim with fiction, there's often little room for fact.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Unarmed Truth

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the Warrior (Knight) of Moths (Swords); from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Can't:'
          This Warrior fights with a sword in each hand; Einstein's words are his clarion call to go to battle: "In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same." But I am concerned that his helmet covers his eyes, and I wonder if his beliefs are self-generated. Has he asked those he claims to be fighting for if they feel oppressed and unhappy? I stepped into a situation about a year ago with the intent to 'correct it,' only to discover the people there were quite content with the status quo. I was the pot-stirrer. The Southernism "Can't never could" advises that if we don't think we can accomplish a goal, we likely won't. Adding it to the overly enthusiastic Warrior, I can see how easy it would be to have dreams squashed because of big personalities who are very vocal in their opinions. But loud and full of confidence doesn't necessarily mean right. Sometimes it's the heart that must be followed rather than the head.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. 
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Truth Will Out

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the Seven of Moths (Swords); from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Cotton:'
          That little red fox's face is so sweet, until you catch it sneaking out of the chicken coop with one of your hens in its mouth. Egan's illustration brings to mind another southern saying: 'fox in the hen house.' The Seven of Moths/Swords is about trust naively given and deception, whether it is through omitting the truth or flat-out lies. Sometimes we want to believe something so badly that we can't see the truth even in the light of day. As Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." Other times we rationalize and normalize our actions when our integrity slips, thinking we deserve something or pointing out that other people do it too. Which brings up the Southernism: 'Sitting in high cotton.' Normally this would mean enjoying abundance (originally from a good return on one's cotton crop). But paired with this particular tarot card, it seems more like a smug belief that we've justifiably outsmarted another and got some pleasure out of it (like cheating on one's taxes). Yet deceivers would do well to heed a line from Shakespeare: "at the length truth will out."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

There's Gonna be an Evolution

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the World; from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Tick:'
          Egan's World card shows various circles of life, from birth to death. But this card encompasses more than just a beginning and end. Each generation of insect or animal must adapt to environmental changes, whether threats or additional resources. Though there is completion in each cycle, there is also evolution - gene pools slowly transform with each generation, making them slightly different than the one before. The Southernism paired with the World is "Full as a tick." These blood-sucking insects will latch onto an animal to feed, increasing their weight 200 to 600 times. To be this full suggests being completely engorged - and usually not in a comfortable way. Humans have a tendency to prefer what is stable and certain, to latch on rather than move on. If I complete a cycle, I  might be tempted to follow the same track over and over rather than step out of a finished circle and start anew. But this behavior won't help me evolve or develop in any way, and I'll be at a disadvantage when forced to deal with change.

The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
– Joseph Campbell
Wherever you are is the entry point.
― Kabir

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What Holds Fast

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the Seer (Queen) of Oaks (Wands); from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Doornail:'
          The Seer is wise but also nurturing. While he/she may be energetic and passionate, the Seer also realizes resources must be used when following the pursuit of ardent dreams and interests. In this card, he honors what was once a giant oak that was used as lumber and firewood. People too can feel left behind when a common interest has been replaced by something else. I've been more inclined to follow my passion as I've aged, and I've lost friends over the years as a result. It wasn't that I wanted to dismantle our friendship, but because my particular interests didn't match theirs, they assumed we wouldn't have anything in common. It makes me sad to lose these companions, yet I can still honor the memory of our time together. The Southernism phrase is "Dead as a doornail." A doornail was a long nail that was pounded in until its point protruded on the other side. The point was then bent over and hammered into the wood, making it ‘dead’ (not easily pulled out or loosened) such as on doors that were opened frequently. True friendships are like that doornail - regardless of the changes that time brings, they hold fast. Such friends aren't carbon copies of ourselves (they may even be our complete opposites). Yet together something deep, nurturing and lasting is shared.
A friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. When you’re down and out, he doesn’t look down on you. ~ Buddha (Mitta Sutta)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Stings of Success

From the Delta Enduring Tarot, the Six of Oaks (Wands); from the Southernisms Oracle, 'Hornets' Nest:'
          This fellow has won a prize in the poultry division of the county fair. Having been to quite a few of our local agricultural fairs, I know the competition in any of the livestock contests is tough. Months of grooming, nutritional foods and health care goes into each animal, so a ribbon is quite an accomplishment. But after the fair is over and the ribbon is hanging on the wall, things might get a little boring without something to focus on. The Southernism Oracle card warns, "Don't kick the hornets' nest." Hornets aggressively guard their nests and have stings more painful and dangerous than bees. Unlike honey bees, their stingers aren’t barbed, so they can sting repeatedly. Kicking the hornets’ nest implies stirring up trouble that will likely cause painful repercussions to the kicker (and possibly anyone associated with him or her). Saul Bellow wrote: “Boredom is the conviction that you can't change ... the shriek of unused capacities.” Perhaps this down time could be put to better use if used as an incubation period for creativity.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Not Gonna Take It

This week I'll be using the Delta Enduring Tarot, created and self-published by Bridgette Egan. Along with it I'll be drawing from the Southernisms Oracle (a deck I created based on sayings I grew up with). Today's draws are Justice and 'Wet Hen:'
         Egan's Justice card sent a warm thrill through me, bringing to mind the words of Albert Einstein: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." When there is injustice and inequality, people do need to speak up. First, because there are those who may sincerely be unaware of the situation, and secondly so others will have the courage to speak out as well. Holding aloft an IUD-shaped set of scales, a beautiful black woman stands at the front of a long line of women. These gals seem impervious to the anger and taunts tossed out by the crowd; they are here to hold folks accountable and create change (and refuse to back down until that happens). The Southernism today is "Madder than a wet hen." In the past, farmers often found stubborn hens sitting on eggs they wanted to collect. They put an end to their brooding behavior by giving them a quick dunk in cold water. Needless to say, the hen wasn’t too happy about such treatment. And therein lies the root of much injustice - the bullying behavior that takes by force what is wanted without concern for the other. I'm with Twisted Sister on this one: "We're not gonna take it anymore."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bring a Bulldozer

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the Way of the Horse, 'Merlin's Spirit:'
          Can you imagine a parent sending a toddler out to play and then forgetting to check on him the rest of the day? I imagine most of us do this with our thoughts; we allow them to wander all over the place without keeping an eye on them. Martin Luther wrote, "You can't stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair." If I'm paying attention to what neighborhood my mind is playing in, I can steer it to a safer street if necessary. Failure to do so will eventually find me pinned down and feeling overburdened with no clue how I got to this point. Merlin's Spirit shows a meeting of power and strength with gentleness and mercy. We often choose sides, thinking one mindset excludes the other. But that's just the kind of narrow-minded thinking is like a house with no windows or doors (or fresh air). The only way out is to demolish the house and rebuild with a more open floor plan. 
It is only when we become obsessed by our ideas about what we think we are or should be that we become blind to the reality before us. —Mark Unno

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rise Up Unafraid

From the Hezicos Tarot, Judgment; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, 'Close to Shore:'
I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousands times again. 

          The merfolk and fish rise from the water as the mermaid sends out the call. The image made me think of a spiritual awakening, a point where our perception and perspective of life so radically changes that we no longer emotionally react but thoughtfully respond to it. This awakening doesn't cause us to sit on a pink cloud high above the rest of the earth's struggles and hurts but to dwell in the middle of it all with our hearts open and vulnerable. It makes us present to all that is happening - we don't duck or run from any of it. The Close to Shore card shows an elderly mare making her way to the shore. The spirit horse in the clouds suggest she won't be alive much longer. It is sad that she is alone and without companions, yet the mare knows that death brings predators so she moves away from the herd. Many humans would likely be grateful if the sick and dying isolated themselves, so they wouldn't have to witness what they must one day endure. But part of awakening is compassion, the willingness to sit with another's suffering and not turn away. Sometimes that includes bearing witness to our own suffering too.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

One Pocketful of Experiences

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Page of Coins; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, 'Rivalry:'
          The Page of Coins is a student of all the Earth; he wants to understand everything from how a seed develops into a plant to why humans make the choices they do. But he's not content to learn things from a book - he has to test things for himself to see if they are true. There's a quote attributed to Will Rogers that describes him well: "There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." This Page's personal experiences can create a solid foundation of knowledge and skill, but he must be careful not to think his experiments can be generalized to cover all. The Rivalry card illustrates competition, which is not always a bad thing. If each side is determined to best the other, they may grow and develop in ways they might not otherwise have done. Yet if each side simply struts about declaring it has all the answers and knows the right way to do things, nothing concrete or helpful gets accomplished. I am reminded by these cards that my experiences and knowledge allow me to see one tiny facet of the world. There are other timelines, places and circumstances in which I have relatively little factual information. I'd do better to keep an open mind (and add to what I've learned) than declare that I have a greater depth of understanding than someone else.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Time for Delight

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, 'Field of Dreams:'
          A fairy sits atop the fruits of her labor and spends time with her friends, a ladybug and butterfly. By the time the Nine rolls up in this suit, much has been learned about caring for our resources of money, time and health/energy. Some skills are worth acquiring:  balance, knowledge, altruism rather than accumulation, assistance rather than pride and ongoing assessment. But here this little fairy reminds us that we also need to learn another skill - how to take the time to enjoy and appreciate what we have. She knows that the Ten will soon arrive when all of her physical assets will pass on, so she will savor them while she can. The Field of Dreams card shows a horse running full tilt through a field of lavender. It represents following the heart's desire to find fulfillment. It's easy to get so completely caught up in the daily tasks of living that pursuing what inspires and energizes us gets left behind. Yet as Elizabeth Warren once stated, "People will tell you to plan things out as best you can. They will tell you to focus. They will tell you to follow your dreams. They will all be right."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Relax the Reins

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Devil; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, 'Dominance:'
          The Devil represents an unhealthy, unskillful attempt to feel differently and avoid what is unpleasant. Have you lost control over a situation or group that you're supposed to be managing? Try a little rage. Feel hopeless and depressed? A pint of ice cream with a thick slice of cake might help. Frustrated about your job and boss? There's a bottle of vodka with your name on it. Now of course these 'fixes' are just an illusion. Nothing gets better (at least in the long run) when we resort to such solutions, and we often feel shame about them later. Yet a much bigger problem comes when we continue to repeat and reinforce this behavior. The result is a habit or addiction that makes us feel even more powerless. The Dominance card shows a horse whose rider is pulling too hard on the reins, creating strain in the horse's neck and pain from the bit in his mouth. I've seen riders do this who are frightened; their fear makes them want to over-control the horse. The more unhappy the horse becomes, the tighter the panicked rider pulls on the reins. Both these cards remind me there are parts of life I just can't control no matter how much I try. I'd do better to heed the words of Marcus Aurelius: "You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."
I've got a crew coming to rip out and replace all the windows in my house today that have been painted shut over the last 50+ years (and I have to be here along with the cats). Just wanted to give you a heads-up in case I don't get a chance to reply to any comments or visit your blog today. :)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Don't Fear the Messenger

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Star; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, 'Eye of the Storm:'
          The Star card comes right after the head-slap from the Tower that wakes us from our fantasy. I often think those two streams of water represent what I wanted my life to look like and what my life actually looks like. Can I blend them into accepting where I stand right now? I doubt life will ever look like my favorite daydream, and that's okay. The goal is to stay awake rather than build another tower. In the words of Prince, "Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to get through this thing called life." Hopefully between my spiritual tools and my tribe, I will be reminded that life includes joy as well as struggle. The Eye of the Storm card represents those emotional surges that can knock the Star maiden back on her bum. The companion book describes the 'gift' of this card: "When you learn to use emotion as information, you no longer panic in response to strong feelings." After going through one harrowing experience, any surge is likely to be met by freaking out, shutting down or fleeing (often through distractions or addictions). But what if I stood my ground to find out what the message was instead? I have a new-ish car that has lots of dashboard lights, most of which I have no idea about their meaning. On a trip the 'service' light came on, which gave my emotions something to bounce on. But I decided to investigate rather than panic; after reading the car manual, I figured out that it was just time for an oil change. Nothing to worry about, just a reminder. My emotions are meant to get my (often very busy) attention; my feelings aren't meant to be feared.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018


This week I'll be using the Hezicos Tarot, created and self-published by Mary Griffin. Along with it I'll be using the Way of the Horse, an oracle deck and book set created by Linda Kohanov with Kim McElroy and published by New World Library. The two cards drawn for today are the King of Cups and 'Believe:'
          The King of Cups offers emotional support and wisdom. He suggests we look at our emotions mindfully and points out the spiral on his shell-crown. "We usually travel over and over in the same circle, feeling happy in one arc and depressed in another.Yet if we pay attention from an objective standpoint, we can travel in a spiral upward, finding insights along the way rather than staying stuck in a loop." The Believe card from the Way of the Horse refers to how we (our egos) carve an identity for ourselves like a statue. Unfortunately, as the companion book states, "What we carve in stone threatens to turn our minds to stone." I was reading Jan Karon's latest book from the Mitford series, and came across a line that hit me between the eyes: we don't have to define ourselves by our wounds. How often has the pain of the past become a permanent way to identify myself? Yet choosing not to do this doesn't mean I close the door on what was and pretend it didn't happen; instead I can look back to gain wisdom from lessons learned and open to gratitude for what was good and beautiful. If I'll travel in a spiral rather than a circle, I'll realize that I am much more than an event in the past. I am what I am only in each moment.