Saturday, 30 May 2015

Bloom and grow

Goddess Guidance Oracle (Doreen Virtue)
Yesterday when I put the 'I am not a victim' card on my altar, I decided to put up some goddess cards on either side of it, and I started going through my decks looking for goddesses that expressed what I wanted to express, strong ones like Pele. But then I decided to just ask for the ones I need. To my surprise I pulled these two.

Aphrodite: 'Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care, and appreciating your divinity.' 

This morning, I actually did some yoga. Twenty-five minutes of sun salutations. And while I was doing them, I literally was not worried about pushing myself or following a DVD, or talking to myself about how much fitness I've lost, or looking forward to a day when my flexibility would be better, or trying to remember the Sanksrit mantra for each move. I just did sun salutations.

Aeracura: 'You are just getting started, so have patience with yourself and the process and do not give up.' 

I think this card is much deeper than the literal. Mastery is not the point. I will always be 'just getting started', we all always be 'just getting started', so why not let up on ourselves. Do things without judgement, without seeking, without reading loads of books and making lots of rules and imposing expectations and restrictions on yourself.

Yesterday I said that I felt as fragile as something freshly hatched from the shell. Could it be I'm emerging into a new era,  maybe it has something to do with my approaching 50s, I don't know. I have let go of most of my accumulated tools over the last several months. I don't need them anymore. I don't need systems, I don't need all this folderol. Just freshness, clear space, and patience with myself.

Friday, 29 May 2015

I am not a victim

Day before yesterday something happened at work; I have been blowing it out of all proportion in my mind. I will make myself sick if I don't do something to stop this in its tracks. I thought I'd take this to Oracle of the Shapeshifters (Blue Angel, 2011).

First of all, I started it. That makes me feel guilty. What I said needed saying, but probably not at that moment or in that way. The person in question and I just need to sit down to talk it through, but the bottom line is, changes need to be made to some fundamental practices. As with anything, it's all in the delivery. And the timing! It's pretty obvious how much I'm overthinking this, so let's draw some cards.

What is the message for me about this, my feelings about it, and how to deal with it? 

'You feel sluggish, tired and very much like you are no one special. I am here to tell you you are special, but you have grown too large for this safe haven. Now it is time to move on. It will be worth the time of initial discomfort, for a great and unknown truth about your potential will be revealed as the result.'

True, I do feel very tired lately, as I've said over and over. I guess it's saying I've kept my head down long enough, some of these things had to come out at some time, and this was as good a starting point as any (though it could have gone better!). The point is what I do next with it, not what happened in the past.

'She (Artemis) will insist you go deep into the wilds, to leave your comforts behind...and that you learn how strong you can be.'

The second card reminds me that I'm not going to die, no matter what happens. And no matter what happens, reality will not be nearly as bad as my overthinking makes it. Things might be bad, but not the end of the world. (REBT technique!)

'While people have mistaken you for a pushover, you are a strong person who cannot be stopped. Take a stand, because it is now time to be firm and decisive. No backing down. Someone stands with you. You do not face this alone.'

And finally that last bit certainly rings true. I haven't show much assertiveness yet, but as the companion book says, 'It is now time to be firm and decisive.' I do love the confidence exuding from this Little Red Riding Hood card. I think it's going on my altar for the week. ... Edited to add--

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Golden cornucopias

Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982)
A cornucopia of abundance is what I have drawn from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982) today. The RWS and Thoth versions of this cards are noted for the Tree of Life configuration of the Pentacles, and we have an echo of that here. It's a little squished but I think you can see that the artist is acknowledging it.

What does the Tree of Life have to do with the Ten of Pentacles, though? It suggests that this card is to the tarot minors what the World card is to the tarot majors. (It's also interesting that the the Ten of Pentacles is the only card in the pack that depicts the Tree of Life in its entirety.) In some ways, the Ten of Pentacles represents a culmination of all the work that has gone before. It is like a payoff, or a reward. The results of previous actions or events, and fortunately, the results seem pretty positive!

This card invites some questions:

What have I accomplished thus far in my life? (or in this week, this day, this project, this issue?)

Where have I come from?

How have I triumphed? What lessons have I learned?

What is in my life right now that could be considered a reward?

What are some things that I may not recognize as a culmination of what has gone before? How are they that?

If I step back and look, what 'big picture' can I see that normally I do not see? What connections can I make today to help me join up some of the dots in my life (or my situation, my feelings, my issues).

What is there in my life that I can feel proud of and satisfied with?

What is there in my life that makes me feel secure, grounded and contented?

Have I acknowledged and given thanks for those things?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

In the jungle, the mighty jungle

This is a very appealing Strength card from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982). You may notice it is numbered XI, which is the traditional placement of this trump. Waite changed that around for the RWS. He said the reason was 'obvious' -- If 8 is Leo and 11 is Libra, wouldn't you put the card with a lion in the Leo position and the card with scales in the Libra position? Also, 11 is 1+1 which might represent the balance of the scales, so that's another reason. And some Strength cards have the infinity symbol on them, which looks like an overturned 8. BUT...this only works if you agree with the notion that the trump cards have some sort of Universally-decreed astrological correspondence. I'm not terribly into astrology and only throw it into an interpretation on the rare occasion I remember something. Not only that, but I don't really use numerological attributions either, and the earliest tarot decks were not even numbered. I just don't find numerology all that convincing. In short, I don't care if Strength is at 11 and Justice at 8 or vice versa. But if it bothers you I have a simple solution - take a marker pen and draw a big fat number over the one on your card and switch them around yourself. Job done!

There's an interesting passage in James Ricklef's 'The Soul's Journey: Finding Spiritual Messages in the Tarot' --

Jesus said, " Blessed is the lion which the man shall eat, and the lion become man; and cursed is the man whom the lion shall eat, and the lion become man." -- The Gospel of Thomas  This verse says that we are all struggling to live according to our divine nature, but the important difference between people lies in the extent to which we let our bestial soul dominate versus the extent to which we let our divine soul rule instead. The first step toward the actualization of our divinity and subjugation of our bestial nature comes with our dawning awareness of this conflict (Ricklef, 42-44).

So what's my 'beast' or 'lion'? It was suggested to me yesterday that my aversion to the Queen of Wands comes from her being my shadow side. When a card is our shadow, we used the so-called 'reversed' or 'shadow' meanings. And about Queen of Wands we see that she:

--can be intimidating
--refuses to listen to the opinion of others, it's her way or no way
--displays a terrible temper if you cross or go against her
--will gossip and backbite you if you cross her
--lacks energy
--loses faith
--fades into the background, has no friends
--may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - certainly gives every sign of it!
--is intolerant of weakness or apparent failure

Well, ouch, ouch and double ouch. Now that's a lion to confront and tame. This looks like a job for Ringling Brothers. Barnum and Bailey. Them sort. :)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Oh look who's back

The Queen of Wands and I have never had a very close relationship. We're like distant cousins -- we've heard of each other but wouldn't recognise each other in a crowd. She turned up in my reading on Sunday paired with 6 of Cups as an outcome, and now here she is in my daily draw.

This Queen of Wands from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982) holds a staff, symbol of action and fire,  in her right hand and a red rose, symbol of passion and emotion, in her left. The right hand symbolises assertiveness, mercy, the sun, logic, giving and consciousness. The left hand represents passivity, justice, the moon, emotion, receiving, and the unconscious. Around her neck and on her head is the upward pointing triangle representing fire. The one on her head is red, for passion, the one on her breast is white, for purity or clarity. This shows a balance of polarities, passion usually being associated with the heart and clarity with the mind, you would expect to see red closer to the heart and white closer to the head. Not with the Queen of Wands -- she's got it all in balance, so that one does not overpower the other. Surrounding her are four wands in a square, a symbol of stability and firm foundations. At her feet, a bed of roses with green shoots rising up, representing flowering and growth. This is balanced by the starry twilight behind her.

I tell you what, I never felt as emotionally intelligent, well-adjusted and rah-rah-siss-boom-bah as this lady is meant to be. I guess that's why she always sort of makes me feel suspicious, cynical -- surely it's all just an act! Why doesn't she just admit her hair gets greasy, her face breaks out and sometimes she just wants to tell the world to fuck off? What is her problem??? Or maybe it's more like, 'Oh, child. One day someone's going to step on your pretty little neck and then you'll know what real life is like.' I'm just being honest. My Queen of Swords has always been waaaaaay stronger than my Queen of Wands.

Today's draw encourages me to look at my Queen of Wands qualities. 'The Queen of Wands offers advice and encouragement regarding the sacred practice of service...she personifies the feminine aspects of wisdom, which includes understanding other people and being supportive of them' (The Soul's Journey, James Ricklef, 142). When I'm honest with myself, I do that. Tarot readings do that. I am in a few groups online where I offer support and encouragement for a variety of endeavors, for example. I probably just don't do it often enough for her to feel strong enough to stand up to my towering Queen of Swords and say, wait a minute. Back off, bitch! And I don't have to just see the Queen of Wands as some fake-tanned, bleached-toothed motivational speaker from Orange County. Maybe, just maybe, it's not that simple.

 I can look for more subtle manifestations of the Queen of Wands in myself and others. Then I may be more inclined not only to recognise her but to warm to her and give her room in my life.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Divination 3 x 3 x 3

My friend Chloe at Inner Whispers has done a You Tube in which she shares her three favourite divinatory tools and invites us to do the same: tarot, oracle, Lenormand/other. After much deliberation, I have selected my 3 x 3 x 3. Here they are in random order:

Top Three Tarot Decks 

1986 Blue Box Thoth Tarot
My journey with the wonderful Thoth Tarot has been chronicled on this blog. If you look on the right side bar and click on 'One Deck Wonder: Thoth' you can read all about it.

I have three copies of this deck. My first copy was the small purple box Thoth, purchased for a workshop at a TABI Tarot Convention. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear the presenter (she wasn't on mike) and the people around me all had a negative reaction to the deck, which reinforced my perception of it as cold and unreadable.

When I at last decided to confront my fear and distaste for the deck, I made a commitment to using it exclusively for a time. I did all my blogging with it, my personal readings with it, and my client readings with it. I tried to ready Crowley's guidebook, The Book of Thoth, but found it impenetrable. I bought Tarot: Mirror of the Soul by Gerd Ziegler, but even with my limited knowledge, I knew his was an idiosyncratic and unhelpful take on the deck. Finally, I found Lon Milo DuQuette's book Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot and I was on my way.

If this were the only tarot deck in the world, it could easily keep you busy for a lifetime.

Yellow Box The Rider Tarot Deck 
Edward Arthur Waite and Pamela Colman Smith created what is now the classic tarot deck, and it is available in all sorts of colorations. There are clones (exact same images but with lines and coloring revised) and their are 'RWS-based' decks (too many to count! - Druidcraft, Anna K Tarot, Hudes, Aquarian, just so many). But when I have a tough question or am reading for a client and want to be able to answer clearly and confidently, the old standard yellow box Rider is just the ticket. Could not do without it.

Morgan Greer Tarot (US Games 1979)
This deck is special to me because it was the third deck I ever bought. It is a RWS-based deck, notable in its day for being borderless. It is the deck I turn to even before my yellow box Rider (or other RWS clones). It's not particularly beautiful, but I like it. The backs have no relation to the fronts in style or coloring and not reversible, but I like it. It's full of mustachioed men like something from 'The Joy of Sex', but I like it. It's a workhorse of a deck, shuffles like a dream, I've had it from the start and I like it.

(Honorable Mention: Druidcraft
I have Druidcraft and I used it a lot for years, but I hardly ever pick it now. I won't get rid of it though. However, I hardly ever use it so I can't really say it's a favourite.)

Top Three Oracles
I have to be honest and say most of my oracles were bought either to use as altar decorations or just totally on a whim. I do occasionally use a few of them for divination and here they are:

Morgan's Tarot (Morgan Robbins)
Read my introduction to this fabulous oracle here: 10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box. And it gives wonderful readings such as this: Have you ever been Biff Tannened?

I love this deck. Here are a few of my favourite cards:

Teen Oracle (Cinnamon Crow Dixon)
I learned about this oracle from Steven Bright of Tiferet Tarot. It is a very straightforward deck when you just want an answer. Black and white images with red text give it a 'you can't ignore me when I'm being this literal' feeling, and cards are simple as: Stop, Speak, and Relax.

Oracle of the Shapeshifters (Lucy Cavendish and Jasmine Becket-Griffith)
I may be the only person in the world who actively dislikes the artwork of Jasmine Becket-Griffith. I do not like these cards. I don't like any of her work. I do not like these bug-eyed, button-nosed, big-headed girls who like aliens suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. BUT...Lucy Cavendish must be some sort of world-class witch because I have never used a more uncannily accurate oracle. For me, the book is indispensable. The cards are useless without it, and in fact, I often don't bother with the cards but just use the book, opening it at a random page instead of drawing from the deck.

Lenormand and other 
I do not use any 'other' types of divination, having given up dealings with runes, crystals, herbalism, and such like. I'm pure cartomancy these days. Here are my three favourite Lennies and 'other':

Esmeralda Lenormand
I didn't even know about this deck; it was a gift from a friend, and has become my favourite Lenormand. I use it for all my client readings and it is my go-to for my own personal Lennie readings as well. I love the rich colours and textures, and the little prompts and icons. All the information you need is right there on the card, and when laid out in a grand tableau, they look like a glorious patchwork quilt.

Titania's Fortune Cards
This was my first Lenormand, before I had even heard the word 'Lenormand'. If you buy it, ignore the companion book. It bears no relation to any traditional Lenormand system and will only confuse you. (I actually threw mine away.) They have a crazy, 'flashing colour' thing going on with them, making them look like lurid photo negatives. You get a sort of tatwa thing going when you use them. Here's a draw I did with them: Lenormand Daily Draw.

The Psycards are a set of 40 cards inspired by Carl Jung's work, and based on the principle of 'archetypes'. I used to have the book but I traded that set, then a few years later decided I wanted the cards back and bought the deck only. It's okay, the book is not really needed.

Here's a reading I did with Psycards: Emperor Energy -- Not Welcome Lately.

Well, that was exhausting. :)

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite decks. What are your faves? I'd love to hear! If you do a You Tube or write a blog, please link to it in comments below. :D

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Hamburger Moment: A Reading

An article that's making the rounds on Facebook caught my eye the other day:

The Hamburger Moment: I wasn't treating my husband fairly and it wasn't nice

I recognized a lot of my own patterns of behaviour in that article, and not for the first time. I know from experience that I am not the only woman who tends to come down very hard on her partner for small things. I've listened to women complain to each other vigorously about such sins as leaving wet towels in the floor, not opening the hamper but leaving clothes on top, and putting toilet paper the wrong way round. I have certainly seen a lot of this sort of behaviour on TV shows like 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and 'Home Improvement,' etc (forgive my ancient TV references, I don't watch a lot of sitcoms anymore). I guess we've been doing this crap for a long time; it's even mentioned in the Bible: 'A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand' (Proverbs 27:15-16). Ha ha!

I don't have a clue about the bigger picture of why there seems to be a pattern of women nitpicking. Maybe it has something to do with some underlying pressure to be perfect ourselves, imposed on us by cultural and societal expectations, maybe it's learned behaviour from watching our mothers, don't know, but what I do know is I can try to recognize and address this sort of thing in myself. Better late than never. So here is what I asked:

1. Why do I slip into the habit of constant fault-finding in my husband? 
2. What is the best course of action to address this? 
3. What is the biggest challenge in this course of action?
4. What is the biggest support?
5. What is the outcome? 

I then pulled 5 cards and examined them:  7 of Cups - 2 of Pents - 10 of Swords - 10 of Wands - 6 of Cups. I was getting an impression of the reading, but decided to pull clarifiers for each card in the spread (not something I usually do) and laid them in a second row beneath: Sun - Ace of Wands - High Priestess - King of Swords - Queen of Wands. Each card I laid down felt like 'Boom! There it is!' They just solidified the original draw so well. Let's take them in pairs. 

 I do this because of deceptive, destructive fantasies of perfection. It's not just him I hold to these unconscious rules, it's the entire world! I've been reading a lot about irrational beliefs that underlie our unhelpful responses to life, and I've identified several from a list produced by Albert Ellis (12 Self-Defeating Beliefs). The ones at work here seem to be:

*People should always do the right thing and when they don't, they must be punished.
*Things must be the way I want them or life will be intolerable.
*My unhappiness is caused by things outside my control, so there is little I can do to feel better.
*Every problem must have an ideal solution, and it is intolerable when one cannot be found.
*To be a worthy person, one must succeed at what they do and make no mistakes.

I have no idea how these irrational rules and beliefs become embedded in us, but I have found that when I feel upset about something, if I have a look at these lists, I can usually quickly identify the irrational belief or demand that is causing the discomfort. It is rather uncanny. So what's the best course of action?

To create 'a partnership working with proper energy flow and support', I must remember that 'mood swings may threaten stability' and that 'anger and not fully understanding the consequences of actions' will break down the balance. (The quotations come directly from the LWB of the Sacred Rose Tarot deck. It's useful to keep and to check the LWB! Sometimes what you find there is spot on!)

The key here is to learn to catch myself between the irrational belief and the consequences (that's the exact term used by Ellis -- fits, doesn't it!) of that belief. It's almost impossible to do that, so the only way you can change a habitual response is by doing what Ellis called ABC analysis (see previous blogs here and here). Over time, with reflection and by disputing irrational beliefs after the fact, the behaviour begins to change. That's the theory, and it's certainly helped with my tinnitus, so why not try it here.

The biggest challenge is of course rooting out and recognizing the self-defeating actions. That's reflected in the pairing of 10 of Wands and High Priestess. The LWB says there are 'excessive pressures and problems to be resolved' and that good judgement is based on 'logic and knowledge removed from the confusion of emotion.' That is precisely the process of REBT. It's not easy, it's hard work. So it's the biggest challenge.

The biggest support comes from the cerebral nature of the whole thing. This is the death of irrational beliefs and the meticulous re-training of the thinking needed to challenge and change them. If the King of Swords were to identify something as entirely self-defeating, he would be merciless in rooting it out. This is a good thing. When my King of Swords nature recognizes how illogical and pointless certain beliefs are, he simply won't allow me to believe them anymore. And when I don't hold a certain belief anymore (like 'people must be perfect and they if they make a mistake they deserve to be punished') then I won't react to events based on that belief anymore (like if my husband or I drop the cafetiere and break it, it is cause for a flash of anger and sharp words). -- If my underlying belief can be changed to 'People make mistakes and though it's inconvenient it is not intolerable and we remain worthy human beings regardless of our mistakes', then dropping the cafetiere would result in 'Oh crap, oh well.'

The outcome of attacking this behaviour using these techniques? I will become responsible (or accept responsibility for) my own emotions. This will allow me to access the better qualities of my Queen of Wands nature: warmth and affection coupled with authority and determination.

I then asked, 'What is the overall message to me about this issue?' and drew three cards:

It's up to me to recall the source of love and emotion and to exercise my free will in deciding how I will react, what path I will choose in response to the cycles of the day-to-day. There is always a choice in response to the Wheel of Fortune. May its genesis be love, and not flawed beliefs and unconscious rules. 

All images in this post are from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982).