Archive for October, 2012

A d’oh-piphany!

Okay, so it’s a bit corny – a d’oh-piphany (it’s a combination of a Homer Simpson “D’oh!” moment and an epiphany), but it is accurate.  While I was pondering my card of the day for yesterday some new ideas flashed in the brain cells.

Wow, sometimes I am so dense! How could I have missed the deeper meaning of this card. It’s not as much about addictions as it is about being bound by my own perceptions. I realized this on Friday when I was at a farmers market with a friend. She was talking to a local politician and shared information about an upcoming psychic fair she had organized. The politician actually lives in the same town as the mom-in-law and rather than chat with her or say anything to her, my brain insisted “I don’t like politicians anyway.” That is what binds me and holds me hostage – my own preconceived notions about things.

There is a wonderful line in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow given by Johnny Depp. After being accused by his new assistant, young Masbath, of being “bewitched by reason”, he responds “I am beaten down by it.” I know how he feels. That describes my reaction to logic and holding on to the past and certain preconceived notions. If I change my mind about things then I’m admitting I am wrong. I hate doing that!

However it makes perfect sense that my wisdom lies in forcing myself to change this pattern; to move beyond it and allow myself to be more open and less judgmental. I know that it’s a defense mechanism. I prefer to be cautious with people at first, even sharp (think the 7 of Wands here) and after I’ve tested the waters a bit, I’ll be more trusting. I suppose at heart I operate from the assumption that everyone is seeking to hurt me. If I go into it with that hypothesis, I often find evidence to support it. That doesn’t tend to lead to long term friendships. Sometimes I feel like Sleeping Beauty – surrounded by a hedge of thorns that most folks don’t want to bother fighting in order to get to the core of me. I really don’t blame them. However I know this tendency and now I need to start working on changing it.

 

It’s interesting that I drew this after pulling The Lovers and Death yesterday; somehow it seems appropriate. The image on the Bohemian Gothic Devil sends shivers down my spine. I’ve always had a fear of needles and being drugged against my will so this image pulls up those fears. There is also a sense of passively giving up control over your life to the demon offering sedation and altered consciousness. The woman on this card is embracing the demon with the needle – she is seeking this forgetfulness; courting oblivion. That trait is fairly absent from my personality. I may occasionally wish for forgetfulness, and in my youth I actively courted the seeming bliss offered by a bottle of booze, but at the end of the day I couldn’t completely give up control of myself.

The red demon on the Vampire Tarot Devil card is a reminder that even if vampires seems to immortal and invincible, they also dance to the tune of a greater power. Despite their seductive allure, The Devil reminds us that vampires are bound by their own nature. They might live forever but they are essentially soulless. They have traded that valuable commodity to The Devil in exchange for physical immortality. A vampire’s powers may be mighty and amazing, but essentially they are carrion; the vultures of the metaphysical world. They can only exist as long as humans live to provide their sustenance.

So what does this have to do with me and my question? Not sure. My initial response, after a snort of disbelief, is that maybe my wisdom lies in knowing my own addictive tendencies and behaviors. From a hypothetical standpoint, I can appreciate that. From a realistic perspective, I’m not so sure. I have a pronounced proclivity towards impatience and abruptness when dealing with other people’s addictive behaviors. Sometimes it depends on what the addiction is – for example I sympathize with anyone who is a biblioholic. However junkies, drunks and other assorted drug users and abusers – not so much.

Then again maybe that’s not what this card is trying to tell me. Maybe the reality is that I can’t access and tap into my wisdom until I address my own addictions and behaviors (sweets being high on the list). Perhaps the key to wisdom for me lies in needing to walk the walk before I can talk the talk (Sheesh! I hate that expression). The bottom line is that I’m not going to figure out this puzzle sitting here today but it will require some additional readings and insights to fully appreciate. I think I’ve just tapped the tip of the iceberg on this topic.

Of course there is also the option that my addiction is that I keep believing I have some wisdom. Of course that’s snarky even for me.

 

 

As David Bowie once sang “I’m going through changes.” Of course this is no surprise, we’re all always going through changes of one type or another. However I think this time it’s more complicated.

The first thing that struck me about this reading is that both cards and Majors and both are reversed. I’m obviously getting my insides a bit shaken up here. In response to the initial question, perhaps I’m not listening to world around me. I get the sense that before I’ll be able to do that, I need to make some serious choices about my path in life and my priorities and then I need to make some changes based on these choices. For two Major Arcana cards to appear, I have to guess this can be a major life lesson. Then again, lately everything in my life is becoming a life lesson.

When everything in your life gets turned on its head, including things you think you know about yourself, it often proves to be a life lesson. Who I have always been (or at least the persona I have often projected to the world) is shifting and mutating. I am getting the feeling that the life I left behind (being a manager at a non-profit organization, holding down a 9-5 type job) is gone for good. I don’t see me returning to the traditional workforce any time soon and that scares the hell out of me. I like boundaries and clearly defined rules and expectations. Unfortunately I’m lousy at imposing them on myself. So what to do? What to do?

Well I guess it’s time to face some truths – I need to find another way to generate income by doing something I enjoy (hopefully). I keep blathering on about finding a way to put myself out there as a Tarot reading. I have a feeling I’m going to need to figure that out and soon. I’ve also been getting a sense that I need to keep working with my dreams and spirit guides. I enjoyed the shamanic workshop I took but then let those skills become fallow. I never used them. The same thing happened with my Reiki training. Before I make any plans to move forward, I need to starting working with what I already know.

It’s appropriate that Death appeared in this reading because I have a feeling it’s time to reconnect with my ancestors and perhaps do some work with the dead. I don’t see myself becoming a medium any time soon but that doesn’t mean I would gain some useful insights and experience if I explored that path a bit.

Damn! The bottom line is that I already know what I need and want to do, what I need to choose, change and transform in my life is taking the steps to actually do them.

 

Being a perpetual smart ass by nature, my first instinct when I saw the Bohemian Gothic 2 of Pentacles reversed appear in answer to this query was “So I’m wounded in my bicycle?  Or maybe in my ass?”  Sometimes I just can’t help myself.  Once I get it out of my system, I hope to attain a deeper understanding and perspective on this card’s meaning in response to my question.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  And sometimes I grow frustrated with my inability to draw practical, clear answers from the cards.  Of course I suppose this is partly the nature of the cards and partly their response to my own smart aleck tendencies.  Ya gotta love an oracle that can be snarky with you.

Bicycles have an odd place in my life.  Very much like cars, I know how to ride a bicycle but my own fears and lack of self-confidence about my abilities kept me from doing so as often as I might have liked.  I can provide 1,001 logical, practical reasons for this (I grew up in NYC so riding a bike in traffic could be life threatening, etc.) but the bottom line is that my own fears held me prisoner.  They were in the driver’s seat.  I am wounded in my self-confidence; my ego if you will.  This may shock some of the folks who know me because I can come across as quite confident, bombastic even.  And what it all boils down to is that I often feel like “sound and fury signifying nothing” to quote the Bard.  It’s a shitty feeling and one I prefer not to address.  Which is of course why the Universe threw this Tarot card in my path.

At it’s core, this same self-doubt and lack of confidence is what holds me back in my work with Tarot.  I’m confident enough when working out my own stuff but very hesitant to trust my instincts when working with others.  What if I’m wrong?  What if I sound stupid?  What if they feel I’ve cheated them?  All these thoughts gallop through my brain with every reading I do.  It can be crippling if I let it.  Much like any child who falls off a bike is told, I need to get back on and try again.  I can’t let these fears and insecurities deprive me of enjoying my skills and talents (not to mention depriving the world of my unique interpretation of the Universe through Tarot ;D)

The Vampire Tarot’s 2 of Garlic Flowers shows a snake wound around two garlic flowers before swallowing its own tail.  A combination of an ouroboros and a lemniscate; two powerful symbols for eternity.  At it’s core, that’s another important aspect of this situation for me.  If I don’t take steps to change this situation and overcome my fears (get back on that bike and ride it after falling off), I’ll be stuck in this pattern for the rest of my life.  To paraphrase Daffy Duck, “what a revolting development that would be.”  Or maybe it’s simply telling me to stop swallowing my own bullshit.  Either way the message would be appropriate.  Once again the Tarot’s message to me is one I know but have chosen to ignore.  I hate when it does that!

 

For some reason this Biblical passage dashed through my mind when I saw this card, “When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.”  I think that is a key aspect of this card’s message to me today.

Yesterday I strolled the streets of my neighborhood and realized I have become a ghost.  I am the ghost of Hell’s Kitchens past.  I walked for blocks and saw no one I knew (and the people I did see are not ones I want to know).  Half of the people I strolled passed were oblivious to their surroundings with their eyes glued to the screens of their smartphones as they texted or browsed the Internet or did whatever people do now rather than pay attention to what is going on around them.  These oblivious wonders tended to be dressed in trendy fashions and were apparently on their way to or departing from some local hip establishment.  It sickened me.

They have no knowledge, understanding or interest in the history of the place they choose to call home.  My family has lived in that area for generations.  They lived and died and laughed and cried there.  Their sweat helped keep the docks going and their lives were sacrificed protecting this nation.  I am so firmly rooted in the cement and dirt of that neighborhood that I don’t know if I could survive transplantation.  And much like the weeds and wild trees that sprout up in the cracks of sidewalks or among abandoned lots, I will endure the trampling and littering of this current crop of transplants.

Having said that, I also realize that no matter how long I manage to stay in my ancestral neighborhood it will never be what I remember as a child.  The true community that used to exist there is gone.  Most of the elders have died and their descendents have moved away.  Our tales are lost or mutated for someone else’s fictional tales about gangsters and criminal behavior.  I may be nostalgic for those old days but I do not romanticize them.  My neighborhood was rough, dirty, occasionally dangerous and bleak but I loved it.  I still yearn for it with every fiber of my being but those days are gone forever.

That doesn’t mean their influences are gone from my life.  That neighborhood, that time and those people helped form me and make me who I am today.  As long as I carry those memories, they live.  As long as I honor those people and that place, their essence lingers in the ether.  I just hope they are proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved in my live.  Our ghosts will still haunt the streets even if those currently residing there are oblivious to them.  But for me, right now, what I need to do to is honor their memories, keep their spirits alive but not get lost in the bitterness and anger that can occasionally overtake me when I roam these sidewalks.  I need to focus on the good and not get lost in the bad.

 

 

Wow, this response shook me a bit.  I have so often identified myself with the Queen of Swords that I’ve assumed she always will be.  However this reading makes me wonder.  As I look at the Queen of Swords from the Bohemian Gothic I am reminded of an exercise we did at a past BATS (Bay Area Tarot Symposium).  Ellen Lorenzi-Prince did a workshop focusing on fears and this Queen of Swords was my guardian who protected me from these inner (or maybe outer) demons.  So needless to say, I was not thrilled by pulling this card in response to my query.

However after talking to some friends and pondering this matter further, I realized I will always be a Queen of Swords.  The Queen of Swords and Queen of Wands are two energies with which I am most comfortable.  In fact I revel in those energies.  However what she may be trying to tell me is that as I move forward her energies will not be as prominent.  That is true when one considers that in the last 4 years I’ve transitioned from being a manager in a non-profit organization to the caretaker of an ailing, elderly mother-in-law.  She is quite useful in dealing with government contracts or employees but not so helpful when dealing with a frightened and scared dependant whose ability to understand what is happening is severely impaired.

The Wheel of Fortune reversed appearing alongside the Queen of Swords suggests that some major internal changes are exerting their influences in my life.  Moving forward it may be that that Queen of Swords energies will become more subtle and less dominant as other energies, ones more beneficial and useful in this situation, begin to exert themselves.  I’m not sure exactly where this will take me but it should be interesting.

 

Traditionally Judgment represents a time of returning to the light after experiencing the darkness. It is a card of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation; of healing and transformation. It can also be seen as a wake-up call telling us that our perspective on life is about to change and wake us up to new ways of looking at things. It may represent experiencing natural growth and maturation; an old phase of your life ending because you are ready and mature enough to move forward. Things are maturing at their natural pace and now you are transitioning into a new phase of your life so it’s time to celebrate.

“Anger at being forced to change your life totally. Clinging to old ways though better things are on offer. Being dragged “kicking and screaming” to starting anew. A forced move or even an emigration that isn’t desired.” – Bohemian Gothic LWB

Yeah, I think this about sums it up – being forced into changes with which I’m not thrilled’ being dragged “kicking and screaming” to starting anew. I’ve never been a big fan of change – I’m a fixed sun sign and that apparently manifests itself in my day to day life. I also dislike the feeling of not being in control of things, even when I know intellectually that it’s inevitable. Stubborn is probably quite an accurate description of my personality in this area.

I am trying to find the positive aspects of these changes but the most challenging part is the lack of free time; of me time. Whenever I get home I’m so brain dead and bone tired that all I want to do is veg out in front of the television or lose myself in a book. Cooking, enjoying my hobbies or cleaning just don’t have enough appeal to encourage me to “un-veg” out. Getting out of the house and meeting friends isn’t an option either for a number of reasons. I’m also finding that online socializing ultimately leaves me feeling dissatisfied – like eating a candy bar or fast food meal when you’re really hungry. Having already left FB, I’m also considering avoiding the instant messenger type programs I’ve been using.

The dearth of bookstores in my area makes this situation even worse. In the past when I’ve needed a mental health break I could also head over to a bookstore and lose myself for a few hours. The nearest bookstore is over 30-40 minutes away and with the price of gas today is just not worth the trip unless I know I will buy something.

In addition to the stress family responsibilities have pushed on me, I’ve decided to take another stab at deleting wheat from my diet. For a variety of health reasons, I have come to realize that wheat products are wreaking havoc with my system. The best way to fix these problems is to eliminate wheat. On an intellectual level, I know this. My taste buds or physical cravings have other ideas in mind. A friend has also recently been forced to give up wheat and sugar and has had wonderful results. She’s been supporting and encouraging me to re-commit to removing these things from my diet. It’s really not easy (it’s amazing how much food has wheat of some type in it). Luckily I found two books that rely on nut flours and other gluten-free, sugar-free items to make tasty treats. I’ve already tried a few recipes and they’re great.

I hate when I know something is in my best interests but still resist making the change. Once again my stubborn streak rears its ugly head and I dig in my heels. Being told what to do is something else that triggers a knee-jerk defiant reaction. It guess it’s time to grow up and just accept that certain things are out of my control and focus on the things I can control that will improve my life. So far stubbornness hasn’t been helping much.

The Magician is the 1st Trump in the Major Arcana representing yang energy and the masculine power. The Magician is also represented by the planet Mercury – ruling communication, wisdom, will, and action in all forms and phases. The Magician is often symbolic of having strength of will to create your own life; to make the magic real for you. This card symbolizes the ability to communicate and control your environment, to focus your energy and concentrate. The Magician is about making your will into reality, manifesting your hopes and dreams into your life.

My initial reaction (after feeling a bit of a shiver down my spine) when seeing this card was what I need to ward and protect right now is my magic, my power, my ability to control things in my life.  That doesn’t sound very earth-shattering but the reality is that lately I’ve been feeling out of control and very much subject to the whims of fate.  I hate that!

By nature I’m not a passive person, or at least I haven’t been one in the past.  Lately I’ve been feeling like a feather drifting on the winds or a piece of flotsam swept along by the ebb and flow of the ocean.  I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned in all this however I am just not in the mood anymore.  Feeling as though I’m “helpless” makes me very, very cranky and rather unpleasant to be around.

So what can I do?  How the hell should I know.  If I had all the answers I wouldn’t need Tarot cards.  However, in light of this card and some others that have come up recently there are some clear themes.  I need to start carving out sacred time and sacred space for myself.  I know that taking a few minutes a day for a devotional and meditation often makes me feel more grounded and calmer throughout the day.  However I also often choose an extra 20 minutes of sleep over all other options (hence the same wash & wear hairstyle for 20 years).  I need to start making my spiritual practices more of a priority.

I also need to stop futzing around with my health.  I know that with a few changes and minor tweaks many of my current health issues will improve.  Of course that will also require more attention and pre-planning – sheesh!  My extra sleep is really going to suffer.

On the positive side perhaps these two simple steps (well simple to conceptualize, we’ll see how simply they are to implement), will help me feel more as though I’m doing things as opposed to “having done to me”.  Of course I already know this stuff but unfortunately I can sometimes be very, very difficult to convince.  I guess I have to stop procrastinating, which is a real shame because I’m a world-class procrastinator.  However I have a feeling I cannot continue to ignore the message from the Universe forever.

 

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