Archive for the ‘ Soulful Saturday ’ Category

I’m being deliberately provocative with the title of this blog post. I am a female and, as such, I was a girl when I was younger. However, I was not raised to think of myself as “just a girl”. I decided to write this post after reading an article a woman wrote about gender expectations and American Gods. This got me to thinking, pondering if you will. Why have I never felt the weight of gender expectations? In fact, I clearly remember a very vehement argument I once had with a former friend about sexism and gender in the workplace. It’s entirely possible that I have been denied promotions or suffered a lower salary because I am female, but if that’s the case I was as oblivious to it as I was to the Stations of the Cross in my childhood church. I simply plowed forward and did my job. If my behaviors upset or offended supervisors because I didn’t act in a typically female way, I either addressed it head on, was oblivious to it, or ignored it.

I have never been told that I could not achieve something because I’m “a girl”. I was never discouraged from trying or accomplishing something because “girls don’t do that”. Sure my parents tried to civilize me and teach me to behave but they also encouraged me to be independent and strong-willed. They regularly gave me the “would you (fill in the blank) just because everyone else does?” speech. I was never encouraged to downplay my intelligence because boys don’t like smart girls. I was never told I was too aggressive for a girl and should tone it down (in fact my father preferred to teach me the correct way to throw a punch). When boys touched me in ways I did not want, I punched them or kicked them in the balls. My nickname as an adolescent was “the Nutcracker”. At the same time, I accepted that if I was going to hit others I might get hit back. I couldn’t use the “I’m a girl” excuse. I was fine with this. Looking back, I was truly blessed to have two parents who never, ever fell victim to gender roles and stereotypes – at least not when it came to me. I remember one Easter my grandmother bought my sister and me matching outfits – they were royal blue pantsuits (think polyester button-down shirts and pants) with T-shirts that proclaimed “Anything boys can do, girls can do better” and a graphic of a girl in a baseball outfit getting ready to swing her bat. We LOVED those shirts and proudly wore them every chance we got. In fact, that saying became our unofficial motto throughout childhood.

I was also influenced by Greco-Roman and Norse mythology as a child. I identified with Athena, the wise virgin who owed nothing to a man (okay, I’m oversimplifying because that’s what I believed as a child). I loved Freya who was the leader of the Valkyries and free to sleep with whom she chose, even if they were dwarves. It wasn’t just independent female goddesses that appealed to me – they had to have a fierceness to them, a martial aspect as well. I loved goddesses who bowed down to no man or god. As I grew older and learned about Irish goddesses I felt a strong connection to many of them too. Once again, fierce feminine figures who were not bound to a male.

Looking back, I am also a product of my generation. I grew up in the 70s and clearly remember the hoopla that following the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. I remember how excited I was when Charlie’s Angels premiered! Yes, in retrospect it was a T&A show but as a young girl, all I saw were these tough, independent women who took on bad guys every week and triumphed. I was a fan of both Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, Isis, and Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. I read Wonder Woman and Supergirl comic books. I remember being vaguely disappointed when the ERA was defeated. I didn’t fully understand what it was or why I wanted it but I knew that its failure was not a good thing for me. I remember having an epiphany during a religious class in Catholic high school when our teacher while conducting a cakes & wine ritual, informed us that ancient frescoes showed that women administered the sacraments in the early Christian church. I was floored! It never occurred to me that women could serve as priests. I often think that this was the pivotal moment that ultimately led me to pursue Paganism.

So, it occurs to me that if we don’t want to raise our daughters to be “just girls” we need to reinforce that message. We need to support them when they show interest in traditionally “ungirly” things or behave in non-girly ways. We also need to let them know that if they choose to pursue traditionally feminine pursuits, that is wonderful too. It’s so easy to denigrate traditional feminine pursuits, interests, and behaviors but that’s just as damaging as only allowing them to pursue these things. Some girls want to be fairy princesses and some want to be G.I. Joe. Some want to play with dolls and some want to play with toy guns. Some will do both and all of that is great and should be encouraged. For that matter, we should use the same approach with boys. I guess the important thing is to focus on what the child wants and needs and make sure to nurture and support them. Sounds easy and yet somehow we make it so complicated.

Readers’ Studio 2017 Wrap-up

So, it’s been almost a week since I returned from the fun-filled, eye-opening, networking event that is Readers Studio. As usual, there were some amazing moments and some sad moments, some silly moments and some profound moments.

I attended the Tarot & Psychology pre-conference this year. The presenters were Jayni Bloch, Katrina Wynne and Elinor Greenberg (Jenny Suzumoto was originally scheduled but became ill and could not attend). The sessions ranged from connecting Archetypal Portals (similar to the concept of chakras) to Trump Cards to Process Work and Dreamtime to Gestalt techniques and using Tarot for relationship work. I realized after attending several of the Tarot & Psychology pre-conferences that while I enjoy the workshops, they don’t always address what I would like covered. I usually do find useful tips & techniques in these workshops but I’ve realized that what I really want is techniques for crisis intervention (if needed) and practices that are more in line with life coaching than counseling. The truth is that if I had wanted to become a therapist I would have pursued my doctorate in counseling or psychology.

The main event of Readers Studio was three workshops – one led by Kooch & Victor Daniels that incorporated working with Tarot and chakras, one facilitated by Mitchell Osborn and one led by Ferol Humphrey. It can be very difficult to explain what one gets from these workshops so I’ll just provide a brief summary of my takeaway: the Daniels are very knowledgeable and have some interesting techniques to share; Mitchell Osborn is just awesome and Ferol Humphrey is a firecracker. Useful tips and techniques were taken away from all these sessions. The best part of the workshops for me was the foundation reading. My partner (the brilliant and dynamic Heatherleigh Navarre) was insightful and extremely helpful. I only hope I proved to be the same for her.

Now for the best parts of Readers Studio – the in-between stuff. One of my favorite moments was while I offered to help Joanna Powell Colbert set up her vendor table. She was already finished but as I looked over her art I felt drawn to purchase something. It was a very difficult choice between her Gaian Strength icon and her Elder of Fire icon done using an encaustic technique (I honestly have no idea what that entails but they were both beautiful). I ultimately chose the Strength icon because I love the image and the prayer included. I may still add the Elder of Fire to my collection. I’ve always found that image very powerful and moving.

My next vendor purchase was at Rachel Pollack’s table. I am inveterate collector/fan of Rachel’s necklaces. As soon as I saw her Sun necklace made of translucent Chinese amber I had to buy it. It looked like captured sunshine. As I was chatting with Rachel (I really don’t get to see her enough) she gave me a lovely necklace she made using the Samulet from Supernatural. The only thing I might be a bigger fan of than Rachel necklaces is that show. The acting skills of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester have kept me watching loyally for 12 seasons, even this one (which in my opinion has been mournfully disappointing). Rachel share my appreciation for this show and noticed my Samulet necklace last year (nothing special just the Samulet on a leather cord). She is such a generous and kind woman that she made me a spectacular version on a lovely Rachel necklace. It absolutely made my weekend. I think I actually glowed while showing it off to people. I wandered back towards Rachel’s table a few more times over the course the Readers Studio and her Lovers necklace kept catching my eye. The pendant was a reproduction of an ancient Greek coin with Aphrodite on it and a necklace with pink chalcedony and citrine beads. It was lovely, so of course I had to buy that too. What can I say – I’m addicted to Rachel necklaces.

I continued to roam vendor tables and found myself drawn to Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand. Despite my resolution not to purchase any more Lenormand decks, I couldn’t resist this one. The watercolor painting behind the images just called to me and I had to have a copy. Next I roamed by Patrick Valenza‘s table. I’m a long time fan of his Deviant Moon Tarot and found myself drawn to his latest deck – Trionfi della Luna. It’s a Deviant Moon take on Marseilles style decks. I tried to resist but his darkly quirky art just appeals to me and I added the Italian version of this deck to my collection. My final stop was at Rachel Paul’s table. I am a huge fan of her Dark Carnival and Sacred Bridges decks so it was great to catch up with her again. While looking at her wares a gorgeous necklace caught my eye – it had a RWS Empress pendant and a necklace of sandalwood beads. Naturally I had to add it to the stash.

Once my contributions to supporting Tarot artists were complete, I spent the rest of the event socializing and catching up. Diane Wilkes managed to make it up for the Tarot & Psych conference so we got to spend a bit of time together but not as much as either of us would have liked. I also got to see the lovely Sasha Graham for a few brief moments. My roommate this year was Gail Woods and I had a great time rooming with her. We both share an appreciation for tea and quiet time so there was some quiet bonding time. I made a few new friends – Mitchell Osborne, Al Jaurez and Bev Frable and reconnected with some old ones – Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells, Sally Rose Robinson, Jaymi Elford, Heatherleigh Navarre, Theresa Reed and Hilary Haggerty (who I didn’t recognize for almost a whole day because she is blonde now)

One of the things I realized this Readers Studio is that even when I don’t especially enjoy the workshop (and believe me I’ve been to all Readers Studios and there was only one workshop I walked out of ) I always take something new or interesting away from them. I’ve learned that whether one appreciates a workshop is very subjective. Certain presentation styles that I enjoy do not work for others and vice versa. Sometimes a topic might be very interesting but not something I like. Sometimes presenters have a lot of knowledge and information but just are not effective at presenting it others. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of courage to get up on the main stage and put yourself out there and anyone who has ever presented at a Readers Studio has my admiration for doing so.

One of the other takeaways I got from this Readers Studio is that whether or not I find the workshops especially useful, it’s the camaraderie, the in-between stuff and the bonding that keeps me coming back. Some of my favorite memories of this Readers Studio are:
Getting a beautiful Samulet Rachel Pollack necklace
Laughing myself sick during the banquet while Sally Rose shows me highly inappropriate toys on her cell phone
Singing “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles with James Wells and Ellen-Mary O’Brien and then clucking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Continuing to cluck various songs during the last goodie giveaway and certificate ceremony including a confusing moment when I thought I was clucking Pomp and Circumstance but instead was clucking Hail to the Chief
Winning a free 30 minute reading with Mitchell Osborn
The banquet show – which included some amazing performances by V and Jaymi. I’m impressed by V’s mastery of the hula hoop and Jaymi’s control of those light balls on cords.
Watching James Wells laugh as he watched Betty White’s “Muffin” skit on SNL
The absolutely wonderful and welcoming staff of the LaGuardia Marriott
Having Kooch Daniels come up to me and casually mention that I had been a witch in many past lifetimes.

I was very sorry to learn that this will be the last year at the LaGuardia Marriott. Apparently they’ve made some management changes and will be doing renovations so The Tarot School will need to find a new venue. I hope that happens soon because I’m already impatient to return to this marvelous event. If you can ever make it to a Readers Studio, I highly recommend you do so. If not, try to find a Tarot event in your immediate area, believe me the sense of connection and finding your tribe is more than worth the time, effort and cost.

Our own mythic journeys

I was pondering stuff the other day (okay I had time on my hands and my brain was just rambling on) after thinking about some of the masks I wear and the burlesque act I can put on for company.  That made me think about how I see myself as the star of my own life.  Don’t we all see ourselves as the center of our own universe; the star of our own reality show?  I’ve seen a lot of books that focus on discovering our “mythic journey” but I realize that I stumbled across living mine quite by accident.

Even as a child I associated my experiences with myths and legends. I used to read Greek and Norse mythology the way some kids read Dr. Seuss (although I read him too). I connected on a deep level to Persephone and her tale of kidnapping, rape and eventually rise to become Queen of Hades. Oddly enough I never felt sorry for Demeter who was inconsolable as she sought her missing daughter. I always saw it as Persephone’s act of rebellion. In my mind she deliberately ate those pomegranate seeds to get away from her mother. Maybe she felt this was her chance at autonomy, independence and maturity. How often do we see parent-child relationships that are so co-dependant that they can only be separated by something like this? I fully understand the desire to get away from one’s parents and be independent and the ruler of your own life. It resonated with me on a deep level. Although I connect with and understand Athena too, Persephone still remains my favorite Greek goddess.
Celtic Wisdom Queen of BattleCeltic Wisdom Combat of Knowledge

When I discovered Irish mythology it was the Morrigan who claimed my heart. She was strong, determined, powerful and even a little scary. She didn’t take shit from anyone – not Cuchulainn, not the Daghda, not anyone. She’s fierce! I was drawn to Macha too. I know she’s often considered an aspect of the Morrigan but her individual tales are compelling and full of independent spirit and power. I mean she cursed an entire Irish province so the men would be struck by pains in the face of impending battle and be incapable of fighting for several days. How kickass is that?!! I honor and admire other Irish deities like Brighid and Airmid but my heart belongs to The Morrigan. She inhabits those dark places that so many prefer to avoid. I find myself drawn to and captured by those dark places. I may not want to inhabit them all the time but I know they exist and can embrace the insight and wisdom they offer.

There are moments when I envision my relationship with my husband as a slightly more committed & traditional variation of what the Morrigan and the Daghda share. In fact I believe my husband shares certain traits with both the Daghda and Thor. He enjoys his beer and food. He has quite a sense of humor and laughs at his own screw ups. He is usually fair minded and willing to help out the underdog. It’s also quite easy to underestimate his intelligence and see him are more brawn than brains.

I have no idea if this approach would help others. I suppose that’s for each individual to determine. However I realize that sometimes finding connections between myths and my own life helps put things in context. It helps to know I’m not the only person in the world dealing with these types of experiences; I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. Seeing it as part of a bigger picture comforts me. At the end of the day I suppose that’s the most beneficial aspect of this exercise for anyone.

Oolong with Odin

I have recently begun re-acquainting myself with Runes. I have dabbled in them at various points in time. I know some of the basics of working with them but I want to explore them in more depth. I’ve begun connecting with the energy of the Rune aligned with each half-month (each Rune is assigned a two-week period over the course the year, in order). I have no idea who created this system but it seems a good place to start. I then pull another Rune each day to see what energies might impact me and how they connect to the energies of the Rune associated with the half-month. Based upon the message I get from the joined energies of the two Runes, I then draw two Tarot cards for further insights or clarification. So far it has worked  well. This process is allowing me to begin working with the Runes on a deeper level. However I kept feeling blocked; as though there was more to be gained but I could not access it. After pondering this for a while I realized that my problem is I was avoiding connecting with Odin, the Norse god of magic, runes, war and a plethora of other areas who also happens to rule the Aesir. That’s like learning to drive a car via computer simulation. You may grasp the concepts but you’ll be limited in true understanding.

I’ve been wary of working with Odin for a loooong time now. In the myths, he is often portrayed as quite the trickster. He has his own agenda and we may not fit with it the way one anticipated. I have always felt more drawn to Thor and Tyr for their more plain-spoken and honorable approach to matters. For the most part Thor is not very straight-forward and Tyr’s word is his bond. Odin take a more diplomatic approach to matters in that he doesn’t lie but may not reveal the full truth either. His connection to Loki has also worries me a bit. I can understand the benefits Loki brought to Asgard but his tricksy, sometimes malevolent nature does not appeal to me. All that has become a moot point because I realize that if I want to truly understand the Runes then I need to work with Odin.

Legacy of the Divine 9 of Coins

So yesterday I sat down and had a chat with Odin. I asked if he would find a daily cuppa tea an acceptable offering for picking his brain. In response I drew the 9 of Coins (being more familiar with Tarot I used them for this conversation) which I’m taking as a resounding yes! So I made up each a cuppa oolong tea (Flower of Asia to be exact) and pulled a Rune – Othala, to go along with the Rune of the half-month Eihwaz. I then proceeded to ask Odin questions about the connections between these two Runes and how their energies work together and complement each other. It was a very interesting process. After each question I would pull a Tarot card. If I didn’t understand the response I could pull another card for additional insight but that didn’t happen. Each response I got from Odin made complete sense to me. It was exhilarating! I’m very excited to see where this journey will lead me. For now I’m taking baby steps but very much like a toddler I’m feeling quite a sense of accomplishment already.

In defense of The Hierophant

I had a bit of an epiphany about The Hierophant the other day (I love when that happens). As I was looking at the card it suddenly struck me that perhaps many of the traditionally negative attributes associated with The Hierophant are because of our own expectations of spiritual authority figures.

Pearls of Wisdom Hierophant

When one considers the spiritual leader most often associated with this card is The Pope and when one looks at the history of the papacy and its abuses, it’s very easy to get a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not limited to the papacy; it seems to me that powerful high priests in ancient pagan religions created the same kind of negative attitudes. Whenever spiritual leaders acquire power (and mix in politics) we seem to see similar patterns develop. Consider this however, what came first the chicken or the egg? Is it that the types of people drawn to positions of authority (whether spiritual or political) possess character traits that cause them to abuse this power? Or that the demands put upon them by their followers force them to become that way?

I remember reading James Michener’s book The Source and one point he makes is that people get the gods they demand. Perhaps the same is true of spiritual leaders. When one gets passed the hype, at his core Jesus appears to have been a teacher. He used parables and personal examples to get his message through to his followers. He was not trying to force them to submit. He was just showing them a new way of relating to Yahweh and each other. Clearly that has mutated as his spiritual successors have acquired more prominence and power but did it have to be that way? What happened that allowed the papacy to claim such power over people’s lives?

I believe the sad but true fact is that many (of not most) people out there want to be told what to do with their lives. They desire a rule book, a set of instructions telling them what is good and what is bad; how to live their lives so that they will go to heaven. They want a clear map to help them find their way through this confusing, sometimes dark and often chaotic thing we call life. Lest it seem that I am picking on Catholicism (it’s just the Christian religion with which I’m most familiar), I see the same trend in various Pagan sects. How many high priestesses and high priests become de facto parent figures for their coven? How many find themselves besieged by followers (not coven mates) pleading “tell me what to do?” It drains them and in my opinion is the reason that paid clergy has become such a hot topic. If coven leaders are being called upon to service so many different needs among their co-religionists it leaves them with little time for anything else. It makes the idea of being compensated for their efforts seem reasonable. Of course my problem is that if I didn’t want to be told what do as a Catholic I certainly refuse to be told what to do as a Pagan.

Blue Rose Hierophant

In my current favorite TV show Supernatural there is an angel named Castiel. At several points Castiel is asked to lead the other angels. They plead with him to tell them what to do next. He tries to explain the concept of free will to them but they insist that they require his guidance. Each time he tries to guide or lead them things turn into a clusterfuck but is that his fault? He is trying his best to help his fellow angels because they feel unable to make decisions on their own. At the same time, Castiel is clearly not competent to lead them. His intentions are good but the results are not. Is that how abusive spiritual leaders are born? Are they initially teachers seeking to help querents, those lost souls seeking guidance, whose demands eventually push the teacher to make increasingly autocratic decisions?

The truth is that I don’t have the answers. I’m simply pondering this stuff and sharing it with whoever ends up reading this post. I guess at the end of the day all I can hope for is to raise questions in the minds of others; to find teachers rather than spiritual leaders. Maybe if we stop accepting or expecting that leaders (spiritual or political) have the right to ignore our wishes and requirements and tell us how to live, we’ll be able to create a better world. I remain eternally hopeful.

Do the ends truly justify the means?

The ends justify the means. I’ve heard this statement presented as unshakeable, unalterable fact. It seems to get used when the person speaking is justifying some behavior h/she knows is probably wrong. I’ve seen it used to excuse military actions (usually cloaked in some “we’re bringing democracy to this backwards nation” rhetoric). I’ve seen it used to justify cheating in school in order to get better grades or pass tests. It sounds reasonable, but I’ve never been able to buy into this concept.

I don’t understand how we can consider something a moral victory if, in order to achieve it, we need to become as “bad” as the people we’re fighting. For example the “war on terror” has caused the United States, land of the free and home of the brave, to violate a number of personal freedoms and infringe on our liberties in order to ensure safety. When you ask many average Americans how they feel about airport security and strip searching, their responses tend to be of the “well as long as it keeps us safe” variety. Reality is that no matter what steps we take to prevent “terrorists”, they figure more creative ways to circumvent these measures. We willingly give up our rights for the illusion of safety and believe the ends (keeping us safe) justifies the means (the violation of our personal freedoms and Constitutional rights)

Another aspect of the “war on terror” that many people don’t like but view as a necessary evil is torture. We may cloak it in more politically appropriate terms but basically that’s what it is. The United States is allowing military and intelligence personnel to torture certain individuals in the belief that it will reveal crucial information that will enable our government to defeat terrorists. In reality all that is accomplished is that the individual tortured will say anything, absolutely anything, to make it stop. Cessation of pain is a powerful motivator. I’m not claiming that useful information may not be gained in this way but if we resort to torture and violation of civil and human rights then how are we any better than those we profess are terrorists?

How often have we heard law enforcement personnel makes statements about “knowing” the suspect was guilty of something, even if it was not the specific crime for which he was arrested. In other words, it doesn’t matter if he is wrongfully convicted because in the long run he will commit another crime that would result in his conviction and imprisonment. Putting him away now prevents others from being hurt by his actions so the ends justifies the means. I think what bothers me most about this mindset is the inherent hypocrisy. It implies that any action taken, no matter how repugnant or heinous, is acceptable as long as the outcome is “just”. This mindset is what leads to bombings at abortion clinics and police brutality towards suspects. They may truly believe they are on the side of the righteous, so they are justified in their behaviors.

Adherents to this mindset seem oblivious to the fact that they have become as guilty as those they profess to battle. Are we truly justified in committing atrocities against others because they are “evil”? It seems to me that this battle cry is often wielded when the issue at hand is so subjective that it is impossible to reach an impartial conclusion. As has often been stated, one group’s terrorists are another people’s freedom fighters. And if, as we have so often been assured, history is written by the winners then perhaps we have been deluded in thinking there is such thing as a righteous war or justified means. Maybe there are certain behaviors that are just wrong regardless of reason. Is torture ever really justified? Is cruelty ever justified? Is rape or willfully creating situations that result in the starvation and death of others every justified?

I’m not making any claims to moral superiority. If I don’t engage in this particular form of self-delusion, there are others I seem to commit with wanton abandon. The truth is that I don’t have the answers and even if I did they can only apply to me. I’m not trying to tell others what moral choices they should make. I can only point things out and hope that it makes other folks stop and think for a minute. Maybe if we each consider these issues and lead by example, we can change some attitudes one person at time.

Learning through the pain

I have spent a lot of time over the last few years caring for my elderly, ailing mother-in-law. I have often written about how frustrated and trapped I feel in this situation but the last few days I’ve been looking at it from a different perspective. I’ve been considering what I’ve learned through this experience and started considering how this must feel for my mother-in-law.

Being forced to care for my in-laws has put me in a position of parenting my in-laws. As a result I am learning lessons many acquire while raising their children. I’ve learned the true meaning of sacrifice, strength and stamina. I am sacrificing freedom of choice, mobility and independence to take care of family. I am willing to make this sacrifice because the alternative of institutionalizing them is intolerable to me. That is my decision and I’m willing to accept its consequences, even though it sometimes makes me want to gnash my teeth and rip out my hair.

Greenwood Strength

I have learned that being tough and being strong are not necessarily the same thing. I may be tough and able to deal with aggressive behaviors and attitudes but this experience has given me a greater appreciation of inner strength. It takes an enormous amount of inner strength and fortitude to get up every day, especially when you’re not feeling well, to take care of others who cannot fully appreciate what you’re doing. There are few or no accolades for your efforts. Others may pay lip service to how strong or brave you are but few truly understand what it takes. It’s helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the Strength card.

Mythic Empress

I’ve been forced to embrace and enhance my Empress side. As I’ve expressed several times before on my blog, I have had a very distant relationship with the Empress. In the past, she and I have mutually agreed to keep our distance from each other. This current situation has pushed me into the Empress’ realm; forced me to sit at her feet and embody her energies. It was a true trial by fire and I’m still working on not getting burned or burned out by the flames.

Bohemian Gothic Judgment

This experience has also mellowed me a bit. I’m still judgmental (I think that’s embedded in my DNA) but I’m less harsh about it, more tolerant of perceived failings and imperfections – even my own. It’s forced me to realize that most of us are stumbling around trying to do the best we can with what circumstances and fate throw our way. Few people choose to be hurtful or mean or “evil”. Very often they believe they’ve made the best decision available under the circumstances. There are days when I feel like an absolute monster for the things I’ve said or thought about my in-laws. I don’t mean to be vicious but this usually occurs when I’m sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I’m striking out in anger and frustration but I’m not angry with them. I’m angry with the situation. Unfortunately they have less control over this than I do.

Dark Goddess Empress

I’m no hero, no saint and no martyr. I’m simply someone who loves her family and is trying to do right by them. I will say that I have learned to appreciate the strength of the human spirit. By all rights my mother-in-law was expected to die a long time ago but she is stubborn, tough and strong. She’s fighting for all she’s worth. She may exhaust and infuriate me sometimes but I can’t help but admire her stamina and strength of will. In fact I wish I could find a way to bottle it. I know I’m not the only one dealing with such a mess and my heart goes out to the others. We each have to make our own decisions about how to handle this type of situation based on our lives, our own obligations. This is one area that I refuse to judge anyone else. If I haven’t been in their shoes I cannot fully understand why they made the decisions they did. I can only hope that they have the support and love they need to make it work.

Always an outlier, never a trend

The older I grow the more I realize that I cultivate and revel in my self-perceived status as an outlier, a misfit, a weirdo, an oddball. One of the earliest caveats I can remember my parents instilling in me is not to do something simply because everyone else is doing it. The phrase “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” was tossed about a lot. As a result I developed a knee jerk reaction against being what I perceive as a follower. The more popular an opinion is the more likely I am to find reason to disagree with it. The more popular a book or television show, the less likely I am to watch it (at least while it’s still popular anyway). Even the activities and hobbies I do enjoy, I tend to share with only a small group of friends. For example I am almost rabid about the TV show Supernatural. If you’re my friend you know that because I have made your ears bleed with analyses of the characters and plots as well as bitched about what irritated me. However I only recently joined a FaceBook fan group because I am well aware that there are fans out there whose opinions of the show and various character relationships will irritate me. So why subject myself to them or vice versa.

Dark Goddess 6 of Air

Being an outlier can sometimes be lonely. I often find that not only do I avoid following the trend, I don’t understand the mindset of those who do. For example, not only have I never desired to become a mother I cannot understand why anyone else would want to either. I have no desire to impose my attitudes on others but I cling to them fairly fiercely nonetheless.

Being an outlier means that you are often misunderstood. My sense of humor is quirky at best. Comments I intend to be humorous can often come off as dark, sarcastic or bewildering to someone who doesn’t know me or doesn’t get it. I know this about myself. I’m the first to admit that I’m an acquired taste. I have a feeling I have often unintentionally alienated people I would have liked as friends because I don’t realize until it’s too late that maybe that comment wasn’t appropriate. A bit of moderation on my part right result in fewer hurt feelings and more social connections. I have to admit that I can be quite oblivious to how my pronouncements sound to others until it’s too late.

One thing I know about myself is that I hate it when something I enjoy becomes popular. For example I have always colored. It is one of my few creative outlets. From the time I can remember happiness was a new box of 64 Crayola crayons. The smell of a new box affects me the way “new car” aroma affects car guys. I still have Barbie coloring books that I bought in the early 80s. Now coloring for adults has become a trend and while I enjoy the new adult oriented coloring books out there, I detest feeling as though I’ve joined the popular kids’ table. I have the same issue with Tarot. As long as it’s a fringe profession and interest I’ll be happy. Recently it’s become a popular party game with folks who have never used a Tarot deck before (rather like Ouija boards were in the 70s). I would never try to limit anyone’s access to Tarot knowledge but using it in such a silly manner irritates me. Once again, not trying to make any rules to stop folks from doing it this way but I’ll be glad when this trend passes.

Dark Goddess Wheel

Why am I mentioning all of this? Because I have decided to abandon that bastion of trendiness and popularity – Facebook. I only recently re-joined because I wanted to connect with my Tarot friends but I quickly realized that Facebook gives me hives. It’s pimping of my information offends me. If my ass is going to be sold then I deserve a piece of the profits. So I’ve decided to reclaim my outlier status and once again depart Facebook. It wasn’t until I made this decision that I realized how much Facebook irritates me. Yes, I love the fact that I can easily keep in touch with friends. However the truth is if I can’t bother writing an email or calling them on the phone I have to wonder how close our relationship is. I am staying on Twitter and Pinterest and I’ve joined MeWe. So if you’re on any of these platforms and want to keep in touch – please do. As for me, after July 31st Facebook will be a memory in my rearview mirror.

I am a magical manifesting machine!

I was having a pity party kind of day today. You know, one of those “would you like some cheese with that whine?” type of day. Between the weather, family obligations and other annoying crap I was in a lousy mood. I hate being in a lousy mood because I really can’t indulge myself. I can’t sink into a real pity party kind of day because I have things to do that can’t be put off or avoided (believe me, I’ve tried).

So while washing away my crappy mood in a nice, hot shower I had a bit of revelation – my life is not that bad. Granted, right now it’s stressful and restrictive but I am fully aware that this is a temporary (albeit long-term) situation. I’ve also been feeling old I’m 48 and will be 49 in a few months. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me but every so often (such as when I realize the stars of my favorite TV show weren’t born until after I started high school), I feel a bit ancient. I don’t feel old and when I look in the mirror I don’t see myself as “old”. I don’t look the way I did at 18 but then again, who does? Well I suppose it’s possible but it usually seems to involve a lot of plastic surgery and/or other cosmetic procedures. I’m too lazy to dye my hair. I know I’ll never put in the effort needed to maintain it. I should eat better and exercise more but overall I feel good. Realizing that triggered some other minor epiphanies.

I realized that I am a magically masterful manifestor. When I focus on what I’ve achieved in my life I have to say I’ve done well (even if I am being modest about it). One of my dreams was to become the director of the recreation center I attended as a child. I achieved that goal several years ago. I have always known I wanted to attend college. I not only attended college but I have completed two masters degree programs. When I was working towards my degree in forensic psychology, my grades were good enough that I was eligible to participate in an accelerated program that allowed me to complete my BA and MA in the same amount of time. I was able to complete a Master in Public Administration while at my last job so that it was paid for by the agency. I have been happily married for 29 years this April. I have wonderful and supportive friends and family who are always offering to help when I need them.

All of these facts made me realize that when I focus my energies on something I usually manage to achieve my goals. Sometimes I get lost in feeling frustrated and trapped but in reality I have been able to manifest a reality where I can take care of my in-laws. It’s not perfect but that’s not surprising. I want to start generating income offering Tarot readings via email. Once I am ready to do this, I have no doubt that I will find the way to manifest this goal too.

What’s wonderful is that I don’t think I’m more gifted or special than anyone else. I think the reality is that we get so caught up in what we perceive is lacking in our lives that we lost sight of what we have. We spend so much energy feeding that mindset, we lose the power to make it so. We get lost in our own personal 5 of Cups moments – unable to move forward because we can’t let go of what we believe we’ve lost. Let’s all stop doing that. Instead let’s take a page from SARK’s book and act as thought what we desire has already happened. Maybe if we fake it until we make it or “don’t dream it, be it”, we’ll find it easier to manifest our dreams. Maybe if we stop focusing on our failures, losses and frustrations, we’ll free up our energies to make our dreams come true. Let’s all turn into magically manifesting miracles (I was going to say “mofos” but that just sounded stupid to me).

So now the pity party is over and I’m revving up my engines to start manifesting some magic, miracles and major mojo! Watch out world, here I come!

I’ve been working with this deck on and off for several months now and thought it was about time to write a review. In the interests of transparency I will confess that I consider Ellen a friend however I don’t believe that will impact my impression of this deck.

I was privy to the fact that Ellen was working on a Dark Goddess themed tarot a few years ago. I remember chatting with her about the project and what goddesses might fit the energies of various cards (not that I’m in any way implying I influenced the creation of this deck). I thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to see how Ellen manifested this concept. It was worth the wait.

The deck is a traditional Tarot deck with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into 4 suits – Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The court cards are Amazon, Siren, Witch and Hag. Ellen tapped into goddesses from a wide range of world cultures – Irish, Norse, Aztec, Inuit, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Indian and more. In the companion book (which I highly recommend purchasing if you get this deck), Ellen writes about each individual goddess’ mythos as well as what it might mean if she appears in your reading and some ways to connect with her energies. Ellen’s art is classically simple with a palette that uses bright and neutral colors to create engaging images that are rather unexpected in a deck devoted to dark goddesses. It’s a refreshing break from the moody, gothic-inspired dark decks that are out there.

Dark Goddess Ace of Earth Dark Goddess 4 of AirDark Goddess Siren of Earth

One of the things I find intriguing about this deck is that many of the goddesses included are not traditionally thought of as “dark”. For example Gaia, Nut and Baubo come to mind as goddesses who might not be considered dark. However when one looks at the myths and legends connected to these goddesses it becomes clearer that even the brightest goddess has her dark side. This makes sense when you consider that even the sweetest, kindest humans have their dark sides too.

I’ve been working with this deck for several weeks now as part of a personal journey. Each day that I use it I come to appreciate its energies even more. I’ve always been drawn to dark goddesses, in fact I consider The Morrigan one of my matron deities. This deck has helped me grow more familiar with these dark goddesses as well as introduced me to some with whom I was totally unfamiliar. Would I make changes to this deck? Of course I would if I had created it – then again that’s true of most decks and in no way detracts from Ellen’s accomplishment. She has managed to bring the darkness into the light and allow us to explore and connect with its energies in ways that are not frightening or threatening. She has helped introduce these powerful, awesome goddesses to an audience that might never have learned about them otherwise and can now work with their energies to heal, grow and explore their own internal darkness as well as help guide others. If you have any interest at all in working with goddess energies then I strongly recommend adding this deck to your collection.

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