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, February 28, 2018

The Key to Liberation

From the Transformational Tarot, Liberation (Judgment); from the Celtic Book of the Dead, the 'Dragon-stone:'

          The Liberation card and its archways reminded me of an article by Thich Nhat Hanh about the 'Doors of Liberation.' The first door is emptiness, but not in the sense of non-existence. (As TNH says, "In order to be empty, you have to be there.") Instead, it means to be empty of a separate, independent existence - everything in this world is interconnected and depends on other things. The second door is signlessness, realizing that forms change and attempting to permanently label something is folly. Old forms change and take on new forms. As the Buddha states, "Where there is a sign, there is deception." The third door is aimlessness, meaning not getting attached to pursuing a certain object. In TNH's words, "What you are looking for is not outside of you; it is already here. You already are what you want to become." The Dragon-stone was a symbol of strength and invincibility to the Celtic travelers. The booklet suggests that success is in one's own hands, but in considering the Liberation card, it might be said to be in one's own mind. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Releasing the Reins

From the Transformational Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Celtic Book of the Dead, the 'Island of the Eagle:'

          The Queen of Wands is brewing up some magic, which in her case is the ability to sway people to her way of thinking and convince them to follow her into action. While she likes to start crusades and campaigns about concerns dear to her heart, she's content to follow rather than lead once they build up steam and get going. She's not afraid of being the center of attention (she rather enjoys it), but she has other movements to support and encourage. Thus she doesn't focus solely on one cause, but several (knowing that she's left the leadership in capable hands). The island the Celtic travelers arrive at today is that of the Eagle, a bird known for skimming the waters of sea or lake and grabbing fish from the surface. Because they appeared to be taking a dip in the water, the Celts considered this great bird a symbol of renewal and transformation. The booklet asks, "Are you tired of life because you never refresh yourself?" Perhaps the Queen knows what she's doing by handing the reins over to another instead of trying to micromanage everything.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Spinning Wheels

From the Transformational Tarot, the Eight of Coins; from the Celtic Book of the Dead, the 'Wheel:'
Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.
~ Horace Mann

          A woman spins her wool into yarn then will use it for weaving it like the spider. Spinning and weaving are skills that take patience and practice in order to become skillful. Like life in general, a lot of blunders will be made along the way. The Wheel is a symbol of cycles and changes. The booklet asks the question, "How can you use what you have learned in the past to good advantage now?" A few months ago I spotted a newly hatched, spiny orb-weaver starting a web. It had strung its threads in an area where people would cross, so I knew the web wouldn't last long. Yet the next day, it had moved and spun a new web in an area with less traffic. Making mistakes isn't the problem; the challenge is in learning from them rather than continuing to repeat them while thinking we are making progress.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Still Water

This week I'll be using the Transformational Tarot created by Arnell Ando and published by U.S. Games. The oracle deck I'll be using with it is the Celtic Book of the Dead, created by Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Danuta Mayer and published by Edison-Sadd. Today's draws are the Four of Swords and the 'Island of the Four Fences:'
When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
~ Wendell Berry

          Seeing the bloody blade next to these two exhausted folks reminded me of how most of us react after overcoming a great challenge. About the time we catch our breath, our minds generate more stuff to worry about, so we're up doing battle again to keep the mental demons at bay. Yet Berry's advice rings true for me; if I haven't given my mind and body a chance to relax, I won't have the discernment to see what is worth my effort and what isn't. The CBD's card illustrates the four estates the Celtic travelers found on their visit to one island. Each section represented an aspiration: power, material possessions, artistic accomplishment and spiritual attainment. The inhabitants ask, "Where is your place in this world? How will you use your talents?" I'll have to borrow a line from Scarlet in answer to their questions: "I'll think about it tomorrow." Today will be designated for rest and recuperation beside still water.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lightning Strikes and Rough Seas

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Lightning Tree (Tower); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Rough Seas:'
          The Lightning Tree and Rough Seas cards fit well together. The tree spirit (having experienced an unexpected strike) seems to be intent on offering insights to those currently asea with storms swirling around them. I've been sharing some information with the women I mentor about dealing with tough times, as each of them has had difficult loads to bear of late. Ironically, I learned this week that it's much easier to talk about dealing with hurt and pain than practice what you preach when in the thick of it. The information was however beneficial for me (and helped me cultivate compassion for others), so I thought I would share it with you:

Retraining the Mind

We can easily get caught up in emotional thoughts that don’t always reflect reality accurately. The primitive part of our brain seeks out what keeps us comfortable; it is why we react so strongly to what is pleasant or unpleasant. But our nervous system can be trained to stay with an experience even when things get uncomfortable (I’m not talking here about an actual dangerous situation). For instance, if our boss reviews our work, we might hear some praise and some criticism. If we can stay present instead of getting hooked by our internal stories (“I can’t believe she had the nerve to say that after all the sacrifices I’ve made!”), we won’t end up reacting out of attachment, aversion or delusion. How do we do this?

a) Stay in the body – It is tempting to try to find refuge in the mind and think our way out of a situation, but our emotions will usually override our clarity and objectivity. Find the part of the body where you feel the emotion (it may feel constricted, hot, cold or heavy); don’t analyze it, just be present with the bodily sensation only (as if you would later describe symptoms to a nurse).
b) Don’t self-identify – Instead of telling yourself, “I’m so overwhelmed” or “I’m so angry,” remind yourself that this is passing not permanent by saying “This is a moment of suffering.” (Place a hand on your heart.) "Suffering is a natural part of life." (I'm not the only one.) "May I be tender with myself." (Don't judge, just be gentle.)When we identify with the emotion, it tends to stick in the mind as if it is a permanent part of us instead of something passing. As Jan Karon wrote, “We don’t have to define ourselves by our wounds.” [The three-part 'mantra' was adapted from the teachings of Kristin Neff.]
c) Choose mindfully - Ask yourself, what behavior pattern do I want to strengthen?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Walk the Plank

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Eight of Earth (Pentacles); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Sea Anemones:'
          Palin calls this card 'the trap,' a snare not set by someone else but by our own oversight or short-sightedness. Unheeded wise advice, symptoms or signs brushed aside, and a failure to move with the natural rhythms of life tied those ropes. Come hell or high water, We had a plan or a project we were determined to complete. The ambush is of our own making, and now we have to learn to cultivate prudence and patience if we want to get back on track. The colorful, gracefully flowing arms of the Sea Anemones can deliver quite a sting, and for this reason, are assigned the meaning of boundaries. Most folks would hear that word and think of keeping others from crossing into their personal limits and space. But in considering the Eight of Earth, perhaps the pushy bully lives with our own mind. Instead of looking at ourselves through the lens of respect and kindness, we tell ourselves we're worthless without our accomplishments. We'd do ourselves a favor if we shoved those thoughts right off the plank.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Healthy Compromise

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, Inner Child (Temperance); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Sea Snake:'
Lovingkindness is the antidote to hatred. That is why cultivating it is so beneficial. The practice is about your being able to access and cultivate the healthiest parts of yourself, without allowing anyone to obstruct that. —Andrew Olendzki 
          Temperance takes the middle path between extremes; it looks for something healthier that offers compromise and balance. It isn't about agreeing or disagreeing, aversion or attachment, but finding a way that works and is beneficial for all in the long run. When it involves two or more people, it helps to come to the table with an attitude of unconditional friendliness rather than seeing the other as the enemy. It requires looking for what is held in common, not just focusing on different opinions or perspectives. The Sea Snake lives far out in the ocean, and according to Bowen, must shed its skin more often than regular snakes to avoid parasites. For this reason, she has assigned it the keywords 'letting go.' It suggests that what could hinder finding middle ground is holding on to views that may be personally important but aren't pertinent to the whole or the current situation. In the above quote, Olendzki ends with the words "without allowing anyone to obstruct that." The irony is that the obstruction doesn't lie with another but within me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Little Listening Goes a Long Way

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Four of Fire (Wands); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Orcas - Communication:'
          The smith pours molten metal into a pre-shaped mold. The finished product isn't ready, but steps have been taken to reach that point. The orcas symbolize using effective communication; in vocalizations allow them to hunt together efficiently and successfully. I've dealt with two doctors and one nurse practitioner over the past few days. One doctor told me what he thought was wrong with me (without an examination) and ignored everything I told him. The other doctor and the nurse physically checked me over, asked questions and listened attentively. Can you guess which doctor I will return to if necessary? I am making slow progress in recovering my movement with less pain. Like the Four of Fire/Wands, it's not complete, but things are moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

More Than Just the Problem

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Fiddler (Devil); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, the 'Crocodile:'
          Wild Spirit shows up today, a trickster that brings unexpected chaos that can make the mind go into fear mode. I've been in near constant pain for two days, barely able to shuffle around. My mind has plenty to say about it, 99% of it untrue. When I focus on those thoughts, they become the Crocodile. This story from Pema Chodron illustrates the obstacles and danger it represents:

A student on a meditation retreat came to see the teacher in a tizzy. He said, "My back hurts, and I'm going to have to leave the retreat, and..." The teacher replied, "What I hear you saying is that your back hurts..." The student continued, "Yes it hurts, and I will have to leave and the people here will think I'm a big loser..." Teacher: "What I hear you saying is that your back hurts..." Student: "Yes, and the people here will think I'm a loser and my friends back home are going to say I wasted my money and..." Teacher: "What I'm hearing is your back hurts..."

When the mind starts spinning, I lose sight of the positive ways I can care for myself. Only when I stay in the moment can I find the spaciousness to see more than just the problem.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ebbing and Flowing of the Heart

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Nine of Water (Cups); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Tides:'
          The Nine of Water/Cups generally implies a time of contentment and emotional well-being. The waterfall in this card suggests an active effort in keeping my 'cup' full rather than letting it go dry. It's much easier to get sucked into despair than to keep looking for the good in life. Mirabai's poem is a wonderful reminder:
I know a cure for sadness:
Let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes smile.
I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that.
Look at
beauty’s gift to us–
her power is so great she enlivens
the earth, the sky, our
The Tides card represents cycles, both short (tides, sunrise/sunset) and long (moon phases, seasons). If I want to live peaceably, I must follow the natural cycles of life rather than attempt to rush them or slow them down. Yet if I take Mirabai's advice in keeping my heart full, I'll be better able to embrace whatever cycle may be waxing or waning.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Practice without an End Goal

This week I'll be using Poppy Palin's Waking the Wild Spirit tarot deck, published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the 2nd edition of her companion book, Stories of the Wild Spirit, published by Slippery Jacks Press. I'll also be drawing from Saltwater Reading Cards, created by Laura Bowen and published by Rockpool Publishing. Today's cards are the Two of Water (Cups) and 'Whale:'
          Palin's keyword for this Two of Water/Cups is 'dream,' but not the random nighttime kind. This is an intentional mental picture that turns the mind toward what is healing and what brings reconciliation. Many people who meditate for the first time (or irregularly) feel like it uncorks a bottle of nonstop, arbitrary thoughts and feelings. What they don't realize is that this is the same indiscriminate thinking that flows in the background of their mind all day long; without attention, it isn't noticed. Tonglen and Metta meditation are good examples of working with conditioned patterns - both cultivate tenderness and compassion towards ourselves and others. Yet sometimes spiritual work can make us feel like a self-improvement project that never shows much progress. Here Whale appears, breaching through the surface of the ocean and reminding us to take a breath of air. Psychiatrist Mark Epstein emphasizes that the point of meditation is not supposed to be goal-oriented. Instead, it allows us to objectively watch our thoughts and emotions so that we see them as impermanent rather than solid; there's no need to react to them. We can open to the flow of spacious 'nowness' always available to us - a fresh breath of air.

Past and future preoccupy us because we are trying to control things, while being in the present necessitates openness to the unexpected...We surrender to impermanence when we meditate. Wherever it may lead. Mark Epstein

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Factual Foundations

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from Rory's Story Cubes, the 'Pyramid:'
           This Ace of Wands is spouting quite a few leaves, suggesting the inspirational or motivational idea behind it carries a lot of energy. The faces imply a look back at the past (no need to repeat mistakes) and a look to the future (making plans). But the eyes are front and center, fully focused on the present and what needs to be done now. The sleeping faces that make up the roots definitely need to be woken up; a strong foundation will be needed to bear the weight of future development. The Pyramid signifies a large project that is going to require a lot of hard work, patience, and attention to detail. I found some interesting information about the construction of the Egyptian pyramids on the Ancient History Encyclopedia website:
These workers were not foreign slaves but Egyptians who were either recruited for labor as a religious sacrifice, volunteered as community service, or were paid for their time and talents. Archaeological excavations have found no evidence of forced labor on the pyramids at Giza nor on any of the other monuments of Egypt. The popular impression of Hebrew slaves toiling under the lash to build the pyramids comes from the biblical Book of Exodus and nowhere else save fictions and films which have popularized the story.
I've always believed slave labor built the pyramids, not paid workers or those who considered their toil a spiritual offering. I'm reminded that no matter what I create, I should make sure I build on facts and not assumptions.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Skill Set

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Clock:'
          Here's a different take on the usual Nine of Pentacles; Wegmuller doesn't use a woman but two men. Perhaps the fellow on the bottom gave this guy his first job, was a teacher who inspired him or a mentor who trained him. Whoever he may be, the guy on top has done the work and reaped the rewards. Hopefully, he's learned not only to take time to enjoy the fruits of his labor but how to mindfully manage them too. The Clock reminds me of how quickly knowledge, skills and equipment can become dated (clocks with hands vs. digital clocks). Like typewriters and cassette tapes, all things eventually follow the dinosaurs to extinction. Even the guidelines for diet and exercise have changed over the years (remember the original food pyramid?). Maintaining independence and self-sufficiency is a never-ending job!
Your life can only get better when you do.
 – Brian Tracy

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Power or Compassion

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Ray gun:'
          We divide the world into good or bad, 'like me' or 'not like me.' From those judgments come beliefs about whether some person or group is deserving of our respect, compassion or even our attention. Yet just as the Wheel shows through the progression of a flower's growth and death, we all have to deal with life on life's terms. Everyone wants to be safe, well and happy. But we all must deal with sickness, aging, and death. Isn't that enough of a common bond to look with kindness on our fellow man? Our current government is under the impression that power rather than compassion will get us what we want. Perhaps the leadership believes the saying that "the person who dies with the most toys wins." In reality, the person just dies (and is likely best remembered as a greedy, egocentric ass). I'd like to use the Ray gun not to obliterate those entitled folks, but to zap them into someone else's shoes for 24 hours. Trent Gilliss once wrote, "Behind each of us is a deep story." May we take the time to benevolently consider the many chapters in another's life, especially those of which we're unaware.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Afflict the Comfortable

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Four of Wands; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Waves:'
          It would be easy to judge this Four of Wands as four kings getting together to discuss the mass of humanity under their watch. But since each king wears a symbol of one of the tarot suits, it may be more personal. That ball of hands and eyes could represent me, and the questions asked by the kings might sound something like this:

  • Is she motivated and inspired by anything? How's her energy and confidence?
  • Is she a good steward of not only her finances and material possessions, but also her health and time?
  • Does she keep her own cup filled while reaching out to others? Can she express her emotions skillfully and maintain balanced relationships?
  • Is her mind open? Does she continue to add to her knowledge? Does she speak the truth?
Since this is supposed to be a celebratory card, I would hope they find some assets to discuss as well as improvements that could be made. The Waves die implies 'making waves' - to disturb the status quo. The job of those kings won't be to 'comfort the afflicted' but rather to 'afflict the comfortable.' "Stay awake and keep paddling," they tell me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Saving and Spending

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Eight of Coins; from Rory's Story Cubes, the 'Open Hand:'
          This card seems to combine the 'applied work and knowledge' of the RWS meaning with the Thoth's emphasis on prudence. The couple in the two egg shapes reminded me of a 'nest egg' - a sum of money saved for the future. The phrase comes from an artificial egg left in a nest to coax hens to lay. (As a kid, we used an egg-shaped rock.) That bit of savings is nice to have if you run into the unexpected or for future plans such as a vacation or home renovations. The open hand can imply either someone asking for help or someone offering it. I'm much better at saving money than spending it, so I'd have to have a really good reason to break into my egg basket. A money-strapped childhood likely explains my instinctual response, but as an adult, I need to pay attention to the facts rather than just my fears. There can be a fine line between tight-fisted and thrifty, but a close look at what motivates me will tell the tale.
Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. –James W. Frick 

Monday, February 12, 2018


From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Hierophant; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Phone:'
 The practice becomes a body of teaching, the celebration is expressed in ritual, and the way of life is formulated in precepts. As time passes, traditions accumulate accretions, and the teaching becomes dogma; rituals become empty forms, and precepts originally intended to guide become restrictive moral codes. ~ Ken McLeod

          Though outfitted with the traditional crown and staff of the pope, this hierophant sits outdoors with his students (barefoot!). When the teacher is actively practicing the principles he or she teaches - even imperfectly - the learners understand the difference between spiritual tools and prescribed beliefs. The goal is not to feel smug about having found the 'truth' but to find a way to transform one's life and cultivate an open, wise heart. There is a story about the Sufi Nasrudin who was sent out by the king to bring back information about the religions and spiritual philosophies in the area. His report contained one word: carrots. When questioned, Nasrudin explained that the best part was underground; the followers had forgotten they must do the work to find it. The Phone die suggests communication. If something does have the effect of changing one's life for the better, it's hard not to share it. But perhaps unearthing carrots would transmit the information better than just talking about it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Wagging Finger in the Middle of Fun

This week I'll be using the Neuzeit Tarot created by Walter Wegmuller and published by AG Muller. The "oracle" I'll be using is a combination of two sets of dice: Rory's Story Cubes and Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages.  These dice were created by Rory O'Connor and produced by Gamewright. Today's card and die are the Three of Cups and the 'Pointing Finger:'
          Each of these three cups holds something different - one with water, one with fire, and one with a mix of yin-yang shapes. For me, the most diversified groups are the ones that are interesting, the ones from which I can learn the most. I can't think of anything more boring than sitting around with a group of Bevs who all think the same way and have had all the same experiences. When each person is respectful of the other, differences can open the heart and mind a little wider. It makes it possible to hear other viewpoints that I never would have perceived otherwise. I'm actually meeting up with two groups tonight, each one diverse in its own way. I am the default chairperson of each, and so I have the task of allowing feelings and information to be shared without letting things get too off-course. When there is a lot of energy in the groups, it can be a bit like herding cats. The Pointing Finger wants to come out and wag, as a weapon aimed at making everyone 'behave.' Now I don't know about you, but it's easier for me to laugh off someone flipping me a bird than a person with a pointing finger. It's like shame or blame is being directed at me. Instead, I'll attempt to maintain soft boundaries rather than rigid ones; that approach will make the experience of both groups much more fun for all of us.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Art of Compassionate Surrender

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Hanged Man; from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Compassionate:'
          I still laugh when I see Bott's use of the sloth for the Hanged Man; it reminds me of the sloth-run DMV from Zootopia. However, I can absolutely relate to that frustrated bunny in the movie - it's hard to be patient when your hands are tied and it feels like you're standing in a bed of fire ants with a nest of bees in your chest. I find it nearly impossible to sit on a cushion and meditate during such times, so I generally do some sort of movement exercise (walking, yoga, etc.) with a mantra or short phrase. This can unhook my mind from what I crave (wanting or not wanting). It's amazing that the key to turning the volume down on that infuriating sense of helplessness lies in simply changing the channel in my mind. Once calm, I can see with clarity what I can effectively do in the situation and what I'm just going to have to let be. The Compassionate card is a nice reminder to be supportive, gentle and kind, instead of falling into the traps of self-pity or self-indulgence. If I can sit with my own pain without trying to push it away or escalate it with projections, I will be better able to sit with the pain of others without trying to 'fix' them as well.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Save Some Passion

From the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, the King of Arrows (Wands); from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Loving:'
          With his charisma and energy, the King of Wands is a natural leader. Don't expect him to follow the same old way of doing things; he thrives on creativity and originality. He has the courage of conviction and will follow through on his goal no matter what the challenges. People always feel bold and daring when following this fellow, as if they're in the spotlight too. He reminds me a bit of Elon Musk, who recently successfully launched his own rocket into space (with a Tesla Roadster on board). The downside for people who thrive on such passionate endeavors is that sometimes their close relationships take a back seat. It doesn't take long before the Righteous Brothers are singing in the background, "You lost that lovin' feeling." The Loving card is a reminder that relationships require the same sort of effort and enthusiasm. The problem is not that each partner has separate interests, but that they forget to nurture their common bond too. In the words of J.K. Rowling, "Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike."

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Confining or Spacious

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Ten of Swords; from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Curious:'
          In the bottom of a pit lies a broken sword, yet the night sky is full of stars. It's hard to admit that one's ideas, strategies, and opinions are wrong or aren't working. When what we want or don't want bumps hard into reality, it can twist our minds in strange ways. We may try to think ourselves into a better situation (while holding tightly to our original beliefs). Between our ears this mental method makes sense. But applied in the world, it is ineffective at best and harmful at worst. I've been studying the Buddhist nidanas ('causal links'), a look at how our mind creates our suffering as a reaction to life. Yet just breaking one of those interconnecting links can wake us up, giving us the space to see with clarity. And what happens when we find ourselves in such spaciousness? We become Curious and fascinated with everything, without being so quick to label it with a permanent marker. Our world and the possibilities in it suddenly seem endless rather than confining and oppressive.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Count on Me

From the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, the Two of Cups; from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Hopeless:'
One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives. ~Euripides

          Everyone needs at least one loyal friend: someone who keeps our confidences, inspires us to take a risk, sits patiently with us when we're suffering, has no subject that is off-limits, and who makes us laugh. It's a give-and-take relationship that allows joys and sorrows to be shared equally by both sides. Such a relationship requires courage; its openness and honesty override any hint of ego stroking. When things are going great for one but not the other, there is no lessening of happiness or jealousy, only sympathetic joy. On the other hand, the Hopeless card presents a different scenario. As Arnold Glasow wrote, "A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down." When we are in a dark hole and overwhelmed, we need a friend to gently remind us that we're the one with the shovel doing the digging. They will be the ones who don't humiliate with shame but simply reach out a hand for us to grab. As Dionne Warwick reminds us, "That's what friends are for."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Can You Hear Me Now?

From the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, the Knight of Swords; from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Afraid:'
          This Knight is honest to the point of bluntness, using logic that can make him seem unfeeling. But sometimes it takes the cold, hard facts to cut through those cozy cocoons we hide in. On the plus side, this Knight's sword is grounded, suggesting he's got evidence to back up his ideas. He wants to get to the root of the problem, not just debate the issue. The Afraid card reminds me of something I recently heard psychologist Nicole Currivan speak about. The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain used for reasoning, planning and processing new information. Our limbic system is responsible for emotions and formation of memory; part of this system is the amygdala, responsible for our 'fight or flight' response. Perceived threats or a high level of stress lights up the amygdala, and it can shut down the prefrontal cortex completely. Basically, people having an emotional surge are unable to think straight. They become incapable of listening to and understanding reason because the prefrontal cortex has been blocked. Knowing our personal triggers and mindfully working with them can be helpful. In speaking with others, calm, respectful conversations will likely have more of an impact.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Responsible Expansion

From the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, the Three of Arrows (Wands); from the Mixed Emotions deck, 'Guilty:'

To educate the intelligence is to expand the horizon of its wants and desires. 
~James Russell Lowell

          Taking a risk beyond the tried and true can lead to great success, especially if you've studied and prepared in advance. Though not everything may work out as planned, what does can ignite a passion to keep expanding. I saw in the news where General Dollar (a 'dollar store' chain) that has exploded all over the rural South plans on opening 900 new stores this year. They remind me of a 'dime store' chain of my youth - Woolworth's. The business spread rapidly over the U.S.; at its height of success, they opened a new store every seventeen days. Of course the Woolworth's chain went out of business in 1997, yet it reinvented itself as Footlocker. Perhaps that's the real definition of success - to be able to adapt with the times. Guilty suggests wrongdoing, and in the case of expansion, a lack of foresight. What gets built or bought must be taken care of, and upkeep should be part of the budget. Also, if the motive behind expansion is simply to have more, then it's likely some people and their livelihoods will be squashed without thought. Perhaps 'responsible expansion' could become a better motto.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Just Here, Just Now

This week I'll be using the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, created and self-published by Jessica Bott. Along with it, I'll be drawing from the Mixed Emotions Deck, created by Petra Martin with Kris Wiltse (Illustrator) and published by Heron Lake Press. Today's draws are Death and 'Grateful:'
Focus on this life. Live this actual day. Pay attention to just this very moment. This is where it's all happening, not in some future lifetime, not in your next birth or your 'middle existence' between incarnations. Just here. Just now. ~ Brad Warner
          Being a mushroom nerd, I quite like Bott's take on Death. Both the body and tree are being recycled back into the earth, giving sustenance to other living things. Experiencing death can briefly stop the mind. I had this happen yesterday when I learned of the death of a woman with whom I had a conversation with just a week ago. It brings into sharp definition what is truly important and what is simply the debris of my ego. What happens after death is a nonissue; it is the life lived before the ending that creates meaning. I am prompted to ask, "Will what I leave behind sustain and nourish or starve and poison?" The Grateful card suggests I remember the simple joys in my days rather than overlook them. Life can be complicated and difficult, but it's also beautiful and full of wonder. Where I place my attention will determine if my heart feels full or empty.
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost
Each of us should strive to awaken....
Take heed.
This night your days are diminished by one.
Do not squander your life.
~ Zen evening chant