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The other day I had a dark and demoralizing battle with shame. I was surprised at how deeply and quickly I sank into the much and mire that is shame. The journey began innocently enough – browsing Facebook and chatting with a friend. By it’s end I was a babbling mess who was convinced she had irreparably damaged several valued relationships.
Without going into too many extraneous details, while not in full control of my faculties I managed to carry on a number of Facebook chats as well as one phone conversation with little memory of any of them. When I logged onto Facebook the next day and realized what I had done, I was horrified. I felt my soul shrivel up inside because I was afraid I had said something that might offend or insult one of my friends. Upon reviewing the messages I will say there were some that were completely nonsensical, a few that were moronic and some that were perfectly fine I didn’t notice any of the victims of my idiocy unfriending me. I received no infuriated messages insisting that I never bother the or darken their doorway again. Unfortunately this knowledge did nothing to alleviate my shame. Instead I spent the next three days in solitude and isolation, avoiding Facebook on the off chance that my appearance might remind one of my victims that they preferred a life without exposure to me and my immature shenanigans.
Coincidentally I had a stomach problem over the weekend. I felt nauseous, dizzy and an awful pain in my stomach. I couldn’t figure out the cause. My hubby insisted it was some shrimp I had eaten. I thought maybe it was the lingering effects of what had caused my obnoxious behavior the night before. I’ve experienced lingering after-effects of both these things before but they usually clear up in a few hours and after a dose or two of antacids. This time it lasted for days. In fact as I’m writing this I can feel the knot starting up in my stomach again. It’s a physical pain but I’ve finally realized it’s cause is not.
It wasn’t until I compared the pain to the knots I used to get in my stomach as a child awaiting punishment for some misdeed. My father was a harsh, unyielding disciplinarian so even the most minor infraction usually resulted in corporal punishment. So there is an element of fear twined through this pain as well as shame. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop; for the punishment to be delivered. I broke a rule, violated an implied contract and I felt I deserved to be punished. As no one was taking me to task (my friends were either ignoring my faux pas, understanding of my flaws or tolerant of my screw-ups – or perhaps a combination), I was doing it to myself.
I have never experienced such a powerful, clear connection between my inner critic and physical ramifications. In fact had someone told me about something like this, I would have dismissed it as New Age claptrap. Feeling those inner demons roiling around in my stomach has been quite a wake-up call. I never would have believed that I could internalize shame, fear and criticism in such a visceral way. It’s eye-opening and infuriating. I like to see myself as invincible; not permanently scarred by the dysfunction that was my childhood. Clearly I’ve been fooling myself.
To help me move forward, I asked Sekhmet for some assistance in being less harsh and unforgiving of myself. She sent me Athena – the goddess of wisdom and strategy, clear-sightedness and rational thought. Her advice to me (as channeled through the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot) is 7 of Swords Rx and 7 of Cups. At first their message was confusing to me. Upon further reflection and exploring the images more, I began to see a clearer message.
The 7 of Swords was reminding me that I’m out on a bridge fighting an internal battle against attackers that are not real – they are inner demons; ephemera that are no less deadly despite their incorporeal nature. The face in the clouds blows wind against the figures back suggesting the winds of fate are pushing him against his will. Two green, feminine faces occupy opposite corners of the card. Their eyes may be closed or may be crystalline – either way they seem somewhat inhuman and unsympathetic. They have no interest in the fate of the man on the bridge. Being reversed, this card suggests that this is all being done within my on psyche; by me and to me. The truth is that people do care but many are probably unaware of this internal battle to defeat these devastating inner demons.
The 7 of Cups is showing me that I can choose; I can let the healing energy of love and inner joy pour over me and wash away all those inner demons. There is a centeredness and sense of peace and calm about the figure in the center of the 7 Cups. Her eyes are closed and she is undistracted by the cups surrounding her. The Sun swirling brightly above her head suggests that she is blessed by its radiance and warming rays. The rainbow above the sun connects the energies of this card to Temperance and suggests that the powerful energies of the Sun and Temperance can be tapped to aid in the healing process. All of these options are available to me, all I have to do is reach out and accept their help.
I might not be the complete cure but it’s certainly a good start. The best option is to reduce the opportunities for situations in which I am not in control of my faculties. If such a situation does occur, then I need to be more diligent about avoiding making phone calls or browsing Facebook. The most important thing for me to do is accept that I will screw up. With or without external aids, I will manage to say and do things that will offend. These actions are rarely intentional but that doesn’t make them any less embarrassing. From now on if I realize I’ve insulted or offended a friend, I will apologize for my behavior and move forward. If that person chooses to disassociate with me, I will respect that decision.
So here’s the truth folks – we all screw up. We all have times when we offend and insult friends and loved ones. We can only hope that they care for us and are tolerant of our quirks and embarrassing moments. We can take steps to reduce the amount of times such incidences occur. The most important facet of getting through these types of situations, as I have learned from painful experience, is to slay those damned inner demons that keep beating you up about your mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities and approaching them that way can help alleviate the anxiety, shame and fear. Of course, one should probably try to avoid making a recurring habit of such mistakes but I would hope that our friends can forgive our foibles and not hold them against us.
Yesterday my daily cards pulled from the Dance of life Tarot were the 3 of Health Rx and 8 of Relationships. Reading the companion book I was struck by the author’s notes about healthy sexuality (the 3 of Health) and abusive behavior (8 of Relationships). It made me stop and seriously examine my attitudes towards both these areas of my life.
As a child I was subjected to various forms of sexual and physical abuse – sometimes by strangers and sometimes by family members. Some of the sexual abuse took the form of flirtatiousness and sexual interest from adult men when I was a teen – in some cases friends of my parents. At first I found this attention flattering but it quickly became overwhelming. Whether it was strangers on the street commenting on my anatomy, male classmates snapping my bra strap, or older men making inappropriate suggestions, I quickly became unnerved and began to think something was wrong with me. I believed there was something wrong with me that drew this kind of attention to me. I was young and did not know how to handle this attention so I focused on what I thought I could control – me.
This attitude was further impacted by the abusive dynamic in my household. My approach to dealing with it was to internalize. I didn’t realize that until recently. In fact I’m only starting to understand how insidious and demoralizing its influence is. I thought I had emerged with minimal scars. Now I know that I internalized them and continued the abuse on myself. By ignoring my health and well-being I continued reinforcing the message that I deserved to be mistreated. Realizing this shocked me. It was an unexpected and life-altering revelation. My continue resistance to making healthy changes to my life has taken on a whole new meaning. Instead of healing from the abuses I experienced I continued to perpetrate them on myself.
These revelations have helped make me aware of patterns of behavior I’ve ignored until now. My next step will be to take steps to change these patterns. If I don’t want to continue this self-destructive behavior, then I need to make some dramatic changes. It’s time to truly learn to love myself and embrace who I am rather than paying lip service to those attitudes. Not easy, but something I believe I can accomplish.
In divination, Saille can suggest a need to connect, listen to, or honor the ancestors, dead or alive. It may also draw attention to timing and flow, what currents are being joined or resisted.
Magically, Saille can be used for anything that flows. It is good for timing; knowing the proper moment for action. Saille is also good for moon-related work. For healing, this fid can be used in work for cleansing or encouraging blood flow, and for menstruation. As willow bark was the original source for aspirin, this fid is also good for pain relief.
Linked Concepts: Ancestors and messages from the ancestors, death, the realm of the dead, time, tides, knowledge of time and proper timing, denial, impurity, music, honey and mead. (Erynn Rowan Laurie – Not Your Mama’s Tree Ogam)
What do I need to be listening to right now? 3 of Cups R, 4 of Wands R + Prince of Swords (DruidCraft)
As I drew each cards a voice in my head gave me a message. For the 3 of Cups it said “not your friends”. For the 4 of Wands it said “not your hubby”. For the Prince of Swords it said “listen to your brain”. Hmm, that almost seems to easy – my preference has always been to listen to my own mind, my own intellect and usually the messages I get send me in the other direction. So for once I can follow through on my own instincts.
Of course it’s never that easy. This message is also telling me that I really already know the answer to this question. I know what I need to be doing – not partying, celebrating and feasting (or generally engaging in unhealthy lifestyle choices). I need to get smart and start doing what I already know is in my best interests. I need to knuckle down and develop the discipline I need to follow this path. I don’t need to charge blindly ahead – in fact that would undermine the entire process. What I need to do is plan and follow through on those plans. I need to come up with a strategy that will help me stick with this new plan. I need to stay motivated and inspired – whatever steps needs to be taken.
I can really suck to know the answers because it means I’m lying to myself; deluding myself. I’m always in search of shortcuts (who isn’t?) but in this case (as with most other) the shortcuts have just lead to a lot of wasted effort and little results. I have better luck wishing for a genie to blink everything in order.
I need to accept that I am an addict. My addiction is sugar and carbs and there is not getting around that. No tricks I can use to make it better or allow me to cheat a little. I need to give it up completely. Otherwise all my efforts to make changes will prove fruitless and futile. Why waste my time and energy? It’s ironic that I know once I can get past a certain point with no sugar, I’ll stop craving and missing it but getting to that point has been a long, long haul. I realize that if I want to spend the remaining years of my life in good health and be a vibrant active woman then I need to get this crap in order and knock it off. I don’t doubt it will be a challenge but hopefully I’m up to it.
Today I drew the fid Ceirt. Erynn Rowan Laurie writes this: Ceirt, along with h-Úath, is one of the most challenging ogam feda. Its meaning of a rag or a shrub links it in my mind with the practice of tying rags to clootie trees in Ireland and Scotland as an appeal for healing (McManus uses the “shrub” or “bush” definition, while Meroney suggested that the word was translated as “a rag”. I found the connections between both of these suggested meanings useful enough that I have chosen to use both, though Meroney’s definition is probably not correct.). These trees are often found at sacred wells or on fairy mounds, and are significant for being very much associated with Otherworldly beings and energies that can be fickle and unpredictable.
The apple, on the other hand, is often associated with the Otherworld in its most positive aspects. In fact, one of the Irish Otherworlds was named Eamhain Ablach, the Realm of Apples. It is one of the favored mythological foods throughout the Celtic islands, not unlike hazelnuts. Found on magical branches and eaten in Otherworldly feasts, the apple looms large in insular Celtic myth.
The complex of meanings surrounding this fid often point to intense frustration and even self-destructive activity. When it comes up in a reading, be careful of sudden changes in fortune or capricious individuals. It’s associated with bad luck and with psychological problems, but because of its linked association with clootie trees, there can also be an element of hope to this fid that h-Úath lacks. In divination, it can point to a situation of poverty or illness that is temporary, or to setbacks in a person’s life or situation.
Misfortune, frustration, poverty, illness, and bad luck are part and parcel of Ceirt’s chthonic current. A need for caution or retreat may manifest here, reflecting difficult physical or emotional circumstances. You may be approaching a situation with timidity, damaging yourself in the process. Look to the surrounding feda for clarification of your situation. When dealing with difficult people, malice may be involved; be sure it is not your own. Be very careful that you are not acting as your own worst enemy.
Linked Concepts: Poverty, illness, fleeing, retreat, madness, insanity, ill luck without total loss, psychological issues and problems, the hope for healing from illness or madness.
So I asked Tarot: Where in my life am I frustrated? 9 of Cups, 4 of Swords + Prince of Pentacles R (DruidCraft)
So let’s see, I’m frustrated in having my wishes granted, getting some true rest and moving forward to manifest my goals and desires. Gee, isn’t that just grand! Okay I’m being facetious but the reality is that this is a pretty accurate description.
My wishes are fairly simply right not but not very likely to happen because I want my life back. That is just not in the cards right now. How appropriate that this fid is associated with frustration, misfortune and even madness because those words are an accurate description of how I feel right now. The lordly figure on this card seems to be celebrating his good fortune, surveying his wealth and gifts. I can’t do that right now. Not that I don’t have blessings (I do and I’m grateful for them). It’s simply that I can’t focus on them. It’s hard to appreciate the good things in your life when the frustrating, exhausting ones are more assertive.
The 4 of Swords points out that I’m frustrated because I feel as though I get no rest; not time to myself just to think. Meditation, study, even simply pondering life are difficult right now. I suppose it isn’t fair to say it’s impossible but it’s extremely challenging. I wish I had time to sit in the lea of a tree and think important thoughts.
The Prince of Pentacles reversed is reminding me that I’m frustrated by my own lack of progress. It’s one thing to be cautious and practical in one’s pursuits and endeavors. It’s another to be stuck in place and never move forward. I can’t shield or protect myself from what is going on in my life but that doesn’t meed things should stay at a standstill. That might be the most frustrating aspect of all.
I can’t say these frustrations are surprising. They reinforce what I already know. Assessing these frustrations with an impartial eye might help me figure out how to change them. I realize that won’t happen all at once but taking even a baby step will help change this dynamic and perhaps lessen some of this frustration.
These cards have also reinforced something that’s been bothering me lately – my tendency to avoid. I am starting to believe I’ve raised avoidance to an art form. I’ve always been a procrastinator. In fact throughout high school and college I was notorious for waiting until the last minute to complete assignments (unless I was working as part of a team). I always received good grades so the incentive to change this behavior just wasn’t there. My hubby used to joke that if I actually applied myself I’d have a 4.0 GPA. I just wasn’t that motivated to try any harder. AT my core, I think I’m rather lazy.
This laziness is a rut, a defense mechanism. If I don’t actually try anything then I can’t actually fail at it. It’s a ridiculous response to this situation but at the same time there is a certain logic to it. The problem with is that I still end up feeling like a failure. I am a smart, accomplished, caring and loving person. I can be funny and generous and I can be harsh and judgmental (in other words I’m perfectly human like everyone else). I need to find ways to motivate and inspire myself so that I break free of this rut and manifest the changes of which I know I’m capable.
I asked that Tarot one last question about this issue “How can I change this pattern?” and I drew the Prince of Swords. I need to harness my energies, make a plan and stick with it. Planning and follow through are going to be the keys to changing these frustrations. At the same time I need to embrace the messages I’ve received over the past few days about healing. I still have healing work to do on myself and I need to be careful not to beat myself up if things don’t change as quickly as I think they should. It’s a fine balancing act and one that will take effort and focus to achieve.
When Ailm appears in divination, a new thing is coming into being. Someone may be pregnant or about to give birth, or you may be starting a new project, full of energy and the initial spark of enthusiasm. Your creativity is strong here, and you may find yourself on the brink of discovery, an epiphany waiting to happen.
Spiritually, you may be at the point of initiation, waiting in pregnant pause for that step over the threshold into a new life. It is possible that you are being presented with opportunities for new knowledge and understanding, or beginning a course of study, whether spiritual or mundane. An idea you’ve received may be at a point where incubation, persistence, and endurance are necessary, nurturing its growth for the birth to come, or it may be ready now to bring forth into manifestation.
Linked Concepts: Birth and death as beginnings, the cycle of life, origination, inception, conception, creation, children, pregnancy, initial understanding, epiphany. (Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie)
What work am I starting? Strength R, 9 of Swords R + 8 of Pentacles (DruidCraft)
I’m not sure why but this reading seem a bit ominous to me. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it but my initial interpretation to these three cards is that I’m entering a phase where inner strength, will and fortitude won’t help. In fact it might prove to be a hindrance. The 9 of Swords reversed may be indicating the nightmare is reaching an end but that end won’t be easy. The 8 of Pentacles may be letting me know that my current work is reaching its conclusion.
On one level I wonder if it refers to the situation with my in-laws. Is something due to shift? Is this part of my life going to change? Ailm’s message of birth and death and the cycle of life add an extra layer of meaning here. I don’t see this reading as indicating pregnancy or children – that ship has sailed. It might suggest new creative beginnings but that doesn’t quite fit the cards I’ve drawn.
I think these cards are giving me a heads up, a warning. The change might not be in the immediate future but it is coming – possibly within the next few months. I realize that the mother-in-law’s death is inevitable (it’s inevitable for us all) but I think this reading is telling me it’s time to start making preparations – both mental and physical. The work I am starting is to make sure those preparations are begun and hopefully in place by the time they are necessary.