Archive for June, 2014

Warning:  This is not a pretty subject

I asked this question because I just learned a shocking and disturbing fact about Marion Zimmer Bradley – not only was she married to a convicted pedophile, she allegedly sexually and physically abused her daughter.  It made me sick to my stomach when I read the daughter’s poems about the abuse.  Then to read the deposition given by MZB in which she acknowledges that she knew of her husband’s sexual relationship with a teen-age (13?) year old boy and did nothing to stop it or protect the boy shriveled my soul.  I wish I could scrub ever word she ever wrote that I read out of my brain.  That is how repulsed I am by this revelation.

What is wrong with our society?  Why do we allow celebrities or well-known public figures to engage in such behaviors without comment or criticism?  Where is the outrage?  Are we like the citizens in Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”?  Do we accept the suffering and misery of the innocent because of the fame, talent and skills of the abuser?  Does whatever benefit he/she brings to the equation offset the brutalization of an innocent?  I hope not because that is a world of which I want no part.

I see people defend Woody Allen’s work despite the alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and his creepy and nauseating marriage to his former stepdaughter.  He is praised as writing wonderful roles for women – as though that makes his behaviors acceptable.  Roman Polanski plead guilty to having sex with a 13 year old girl (as a way to avoid a multitude of other charges associated with this act) and when he realized his potential punishment might be more severe than anticipated he fled the country but still managed to direct movies to wide acclaim.  The fact that Angelica Huston was present in the house at some point and did nothing to protect this child is just as repugnant and nauseating.  What the hell are these people thinking?

The fury that I feel about these instances and the many others that occur every day is almost overwhelming.  There is little I can do to protect these innocents.  However I think we all need to reassess our own moral compasses.  If we suspect something like that is happening to a child we should take a deep breath and report it.  I’ve had to make those phone calls in my life and it’s very difficult.  In one instance the mother actually confronted me and I told her why I called.  She was ultimately cleared and came to understand why I reported the incident.  I won’t say she forgave but she appreciated that I was looking out for her daughter.

If we want to stop this kind of behavior we need to hold the offenders accountable no matter who they are.  This is not a question of moral and ethics – for example perhaps you feel abortion is immoral and I don’t.  The is a value judgment and something each individual need to decide for him/herself.  However I dare anyone to justify or rationalize the sexual or physical abuse of a child.  That should never be a gray area.  It is a black and white issue – wrong is wrong.  I don’t care how the offenders try to rationalize, intellectualize or justify their behaviors, we cannot let them get away with it.

To try to help me focus on a way to deal with this, I asked the Tarot “How can I deal with my feelings about the revelation about Marion Zimmer Bradley? ”  I drew the 3 of Cups reversed from the Norse Tarot.

Norse Tarot 3 of Cups

Pulling this card today I realize that the answer to my question is that I need to mourn for those hurt and damaged by these cretinous individuals.  Maybe we need to hold a day of mourning for the children who have survived such horrific experiences.  It might not stop the abuse but maybe it will start the healing.  Maybe it’s also time to do some work with the energies of some of the dark goddesses to call on them to punish such offenders.  I would not go so far as to “name names” simply because I could be wrong.  However I’m confident the dark goddesses will know who to seek out.

Yesterday I asked myself this question and drew the King of Vessels (Heron) from the Wildwood Tarot.  Today I asked “What else can I do?” and drew the 8 of Stones.  Here are my thoughts:

Wildwood King of Vessels

As soon as I saw this card I got the sense that I need to let the heron’s bill pierce my heart.  This card seems especially appropriate because I’ve felt the heron’s energy in my life lately.  We’ve been visited by one several times over the last few months.  He tends to visit when the weather is grey and rainy; a ghost barely visible in the misty day.

I looked up Heron in Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak and learned that it represents self-reliance and self-determination.  They also straddle boundaries to some degree – connecting with the earth and water at the same time.  Seeing this card appear in my reading made me think that I needed to embrace the Heron’s energy more in myself.

I don’t get the sense that my focus should be on manifesting this energy in the world or for others.  It’s about channeling it into myself.  Allowing my to embrace the Heron’s energies.  I have been self-reliant and self-determined for many years.  In fact I can get downright prickly about it.  Perhaps the Heron is reminding me to embrace these qualities in myself and suggesting I find ways to straddle some boundaries of my own.  I’m not sure how just yet but it’s pointing me in the right direction.

Wildwood 8 of Stones

This is about planning to me.  I need to take stock, assess my skills, interests and desires and then create a plan that will allow me to pursue them.  Now is not necessarily the time to take action, it’s the time to take stock.

I’ve already been doing that in small ways – weeding out clothes, books, music, even Tarot decks that I don’t need anymore.  It’s time to release some things into the world.  At the same time I need to bring in some new things.  I definitely need a new wardrobe (I haven’t bought anything new in some time).  Before I start on a buying binge I want to come up with a strategy so that I’ll know what I really need rather than falling prey to a pretty color.  Too often I just feel the urge to buy something and end up with items I’ll wear only once.  I don’t want to waste that kind of money anymore (I can’t waste that kind of money anymore).

I want to take stock of what I’m truly interested in manifesting in my life – what do I want to do with myself?  It’s been some time since I’ve even considered it and my previous path no longer holds any interest.  I don’t need to rush into anything but I do need to take time and make plans, prioritize and strategize before manifesting.

Blue Rose High Priestess

High Priestess
Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says:  “What does she tell [The Fool} with such eloquence?  That not everything he needs to learn can be perceived with the naked eye or sensed with the physical body that delights him so.  She gives him a sense of the awe and mystery of the great No-thingness.  She gives him a sense of its great cosmic cycle and its universal rhythms.  She gives him a glimpse of the eternal.  More importantly, she gives him an awareness of the eternal, for one cannot seek it out if there is not realization that such a state of being even exists.

This glimpse, this awareness, along with a hint of what it takes to find this state of being again … these are the great gifts of the High Priestess, the Spiritual Mother.”

TarotBroad’s Buzz:  The High Priestess almost seems to be coming out of the wall at us.  It’s as though she’s ripping through the veils of time and space and entering our awareness to bring us a message or offer guidance.  A chalice sits on a table in the center of the room.  What does it offer – healing, insight, knowledge?  The butterflies reinforce the sense that this woman is otherworldly and connected to our spirit freed from all boundaries and limitations.  It’s as though I walked in expected a gypsy woman to tell my future and instead met a Goddess.

She seems ageless, timeless; both a being of the otherworld and yet real and grounded in this one.  Her aura glows with power that she has learned to use wisely.  I have a feeling she has made mistakes along the way but only once and then she learns from it and grows stronger and wiser.  She is almost terrifying.  As I look at her I feel the need to kneel and pay obeisance.  I feel unworthy to enter her presence because I am so flawed and arrogant.

However that is her mission, her calling in life.  She is there to gently lift us up and offer guidance and wisdom.  She reminds us that our mistakes are lessons and the only way to true wisdom is to embrace those lessons.  She knows human nature and while it may sadden her she is realistic too.  She knows there is potential for abuse of her powers and knowledge.  She knows that there are those who seek it only for their own glory and fame.  However she is a true spiritual leader.  She offers the wisdom and insight to all.  What we choose to do with it is our decision.

Wildwood 3 of Bows

The hooded figure on this card holds up his hand as he stands before a large tree just beyond two staves planted in the ground serving as a gateway.  Is he greeting me or warning me back?   He seems to guard a path that splits off behind him.  Is he a guardian of the crossroads?  How does his energy merge with the energy of this card?

The keyword on this cards is fulfillment.  In traditional Tarot interpretation it is often seen as representing projects or creative endeavors coming to fruition; seeing the fruits of our efforts come back to us.  In this card I get a sense that this hooded man is both guardian and guide.  Our efforts have brought us to this point but now the choice to go on must be made and he is there to remind us that all choices carry some peril with them.

Behind him on the left side the road seems to dip a bit lower while on the right it rises up.  Will the lower path take us to the Underworld?  For me, today, that is the sense I am getting.  With each week that passes I get a stronger sense that shadow work and embracing the dark side is becoming more important to me.  There are dark sides to myself and to the world that I still need to explore.  I’m very curious about this dark side.  I’ve always been partially drawn to it but I resisted its call because part of me felt that I needed to stay on a more “normal” path.  I was already odd enough without adding a layer of darkness.

I have been known to joke that I’m as deep and mysterious as a babbling stream.  To some degree this is true because this is the persona I don when I interact with people.  I’ve tried being more withholding and aloof but it never seems to work.  I think it’s a defense mechanism that I developed over the years to hide my shyness and genuine introverted nature.  As a child I would much rather lose myself in books of fantasy or mythology than interact with peers.  With rare exception, I just didn’t get it, I didn’t understand kids my own age.  I still don’t understand many of the drives and desires that motivate my peers.  Although there are times when I desire company and people, most times I am find being alone.  I find myself seeking answers to supernatural phenomenon and mythical creatures such as Sasquatch and UFOs.  I’ve already mentioned my fascination with serial killers and criminal behavior.  The darker side of human nature calls me.

I remember many years ago when I read The Mists of Avalon that Viviennne (at least I believe it was Vivienne) mentions that there are four faces to the Goddess and that Morgause manifested the fourth face – the dark mother.  This concept has called to me since.  As a child I understood Medea’s choice to kill her children in revenge for Jason’s betrayal.  As an adult I understand the rage and pain that drove Betty Broderick to shoot her husband and his new trophy wife.  I am not condoning these behaviors but I do understand them.  I identified with Persephone as Queen of the Underworld.  The need to separate from one’s mother and forge an independent identity (even if it is somewhat forced upon you) resonated with me.  I connect with Sekmet’s rampage through Egypt until she is calmed by blood-colored beer.  Even now I am (in many ways) dealing with death and dying on a daily basis.  I have walked through many dark places both internal and external and emerged transformed.  Maybe the message for me today is that my focus needs to be on finding a way to use those experiences to help and heal others.  It’s a lot to process.

Wildwood 9 of Stones

Looking at this Cernunnos-like figure sitting at the center of this card I was struck by two things:  I need to reconnect to my spiritual traditions and I need to not get held back by being outside the protective circle of the stones.  I need to reconnect with my roots and foundation while at the same time reaching for the stars or thinking outside the box.  In other words the way to maintain my sanity right now is to find my own path and not be held back by expectations or “supposed to”.

This is an important message for me because I have a tendency to try to do things “the right way” and then castigating myself if I fail.  Dealing with this type of situation is entirely new to me.  I’ve never had children and never been in the role of primary caregiver for someone who was entirely dependent upon me.  I must say I don’t like it much.  However I am also determined to do the best I can for both my in-laws.  To some extent that requires me to forge my own path.

I have a quirk in my nature that doesn’t allow me to follow paths created by others.  I may enjoy exploring their route and learning about how they chose the path and what they learned.  However at the end of the day if I haven’t forged my own way through the wilderness I don’t value the lessons.  I need to viscerally experience the process to gain the most benefit.  This even applied in school – if I did not hand write notes in class I found it much harder to remember the lessons.  Simply studying the texts or other’s notes was not as helpful as the simple act of writing.  It’s as though the physical act transferred the information to my brain cells and made them more available to access later.

One way I have decided to both go back to classic traditions and forge my own path is the concept of French Chic.  I think some Americans (especially women) tend to idealize the French and the stylishness and chicness of French women.  I am in no way impugning either of these traits, however I think they need to be taken in context.  French women are who and what they are because they are in France.  An entire culture is woven around them to support their lifestyle.  America is different.  We can certainly incorporate certain elements of French (or actually I suspect European in general) lifestyles but in some cases it’s just not practical.

For me, the key element of French chicness and style is to simplify; take the time to fully appreciate every experience and enjoy every moment in your life.  Instead of complaining about the routine, day-to-day drudge work that often seems to fill our days, see them as the foundation for a wonderful life.  Understand that without those daily chores and tasks, our lives would become a chaotic mess.  This is where I need to focus my energies.

Right now I feel as though my current situation is sucking the life out of me; killing my soul.  If I start to focus on these daily chores as essential to maintain the foundation of my life perhaps I won’t feel such resentment.  At the same time I need to embrace the idea that taking care of myself is just as essential as these daily tasks.  It’s not frivolous or shallow or pointless.  It’s beneficial and helps me maintain my equilibrium – quite a worthy endeavor in itself.

Wildwood Ace of Stones

This makes so much sense to me.  I need to reconnect with the physical world.  Over the last few years of caring for the in-laws I’ve relegated my own needs to the back burner (of a stove in the seventh basement of hell).  I haven’t been eating right.  I’ve let my clothes become rather shoddy and worn.  I haven’t even bought new makeup in over 5 years.  I realize that I don’t need to “dress for success” while being a stay-at-home caregiver but I should still make the effort to be presentable, for myself if no one else.

The labyrinth that decorates the standing stone on this card also tells me that I need to get to the core of who I am.  I need to walk that pathway and find my way back to the real me.  I’ve lost sight of her and I miss her.  The first step is to work on improving my outer appearance.  It’s time to fix my hair and get some new makeup.  I need to focus on rebuilding my wardrobe so that it works for who I am now.  I have a closet filled with items that were once very useful and appropriate to the person I was then but aren’t very practical for now.  Suits and business pieces are useless when most days I barely leave the house.

On some level I feel that focusing on the external is shallow but I realize that it sends a message that I’m worth taking the time and making the effort.  If the only time I bother with my appearance is when I’m expecting to see other people, then I’m telling my psyche that I’m not important; I don’t count.  The first step to combating that mindset is to take the time to dress and tend to my appearance.  An occasional pajama day is fine but when it becomes the norm it means I’m sinking into a terrible rut.  I’m tired of being wrapped in ennui and self-defeat.  I need to start caring for myself body as well as soul and this is the first step.

Wheel of Change High Priestess

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997

The Book SaysThe High Priestess is a woman whose life is full of wisdom.  To attain this wisdom she has always been observant, and she has, in her many years, attained the respect and ancient knowledge of her people.  She is the repository of healing wisdom, of mythology and of the pattern that shows itself through nature.  She is the one who teaches women’s mysteries to all the young and changing girls and encourages the menfolk to honor and to respect the women.  Because she has lived through four of the five stages of woman’s life, she has learned her wisdom through practical experience, which is the surest way to learn.  Through her years of experiences and through a life truly lived, she is respected by her community for the knowledge she holds and uses to help her people.
When this card is part of a reading, think about feminine intuition and knowledge.  This is a time in which these attributes will influence your decisions.  Intuition is partially a function of prior experience.  We can sometimes predict the outcome of a particular situation through intimate knowledge of the participants or through understanding a similar incident in the past.  The wisdom of the High Priestess is a kind of knowledge we use to move forward every day when we anticipate the outcome of our actions.
The High Priestess is the symbol of esoteric wisdom and the power of the ancient wise woman of the temple, who could see the future in signs around her.  This card also symbolizes the need to study the ancient past in an effort to understand our historic motivations and present needs.

TarotBroad’s Buzz:  This card represents the search for knowledge and understanding of human nature, but from a sympathetic and supportive standpoint.  This is not the clinical, objective approach used by science.  It is the knowledge and wisdom gained by watching and observing and still being able to care and want to help despite human frailties.

The High Priestess is the type of person who is dedicated to helping her people.  Her energies are not limited to her immediate family – they are meant to serve the tribe, her people.  I’ve often thought one of the reasons the High Priestess is often shown as an older woman or a “virgin” is because her energies cannot bloom as long as she needs to focus on the day to day concerns of family life.

The High Priestess is not a mother (at least not anymore) or a wife.  She is independent and solitary.  She needs to be able to focus on her quest for knowledge and wisdom.  At the same time she interacts with her people and cares for them – she is their spiritual mother tending their spiritual wounds and needs.  I get a feeling of peace and acceptance from this High Priestess.  She is a woman who does what she does because it is her calling.  She doesn’t feel the need to follow the strictures and instructions of others.  If “the rules” say to do it this way but she feels that way is more effective, she trusts her intuition.  Her own instincts and inner wisdom mean more to her than any external dogma.  She has learned enough from her experience and studies to trust in herself.

It was on this day in 1986 that my brother Tom was killed.  He was 15 years old at the time and it was a devastating loss for my family.  We all still miss him every day.  So I wanted to take a moment and consider how I can continue to honor his memory.

This is a story about Tom published in New York Magazine in October 1982

NY Magazine - Children in NYC - The Have Nots - Tom as Stephen

And this was written by the same author after Tom was killed

NY Magazine - A Death in Hell's Kitchen pg 1 NY Magazine - A Death in Hell's Kitchen pg 2

The King of Stones in this deck is a wolf.  My brother Tom would have loved that.  He was an animal lover and always seemed to have a menagerie of pets.  I have always had a fondness for wolves too.  They are such beautiful, wild, untamed creatures.  They operate in a pack and care for each other.  Despite the fact that they have been hunted almost to extinction by humans they manage to hang on.  If it’s now popular to be a woman who runs with the wolves, my brother was a boy who ran with the wolves.

Tom was unique, quirky and in many ways quite fearless.  The older he got the more independent he became.  He was never one to go with the crowd.  I remember a time when Tom told his closet friend that he wouldn’t hang out with him anymore if he kept doing drugs.  Tom didn’t care if his friend got mad, Tom also had a wicked sense of humor.  He once set up a dummy figure on our sofa so that it looked like an uncle who had recently died.  He then waiting until one of us entered the living room and fell into his trap.  Of course it was me and I can still hear his chuckle at my shriek.

Although Tom was only 16 when he was killed and the pain was incredible, I would never trade those 16 years for anything.  Tom wasn’t perfect.  He had a fierce temper and, like most teenage boys, rather challenged hygiene but he was good-hearted, caring, and funny.  He loved hockey and was a die-hard NY Rangers fan.  he loved people but I think he loved animals more.  He was a wonderful and wacky storyteller who could make up laugh without even trying.

I think to honor his memory, the King of Stones is telling me to maintain a connection to the wild – both in the world and in myself.  I need to go out into the woods and howl at the moon – whether literally or figuratively.  I need to honor my pack and keep those connections alive.  And I need to always keep Tom in my heart.  He was part of our pack and we still mourn his loss.

 

Wildwood 7 of Arrows

It’s such a gorgeous day outside that I changed my focus a bit.  Instead of focusing on the Shadow I decided to look at soulwork issues.

Looking at the image on this card and its keyword (insecurity), what strikes me is the arrows piercing the woman’s body.  Are these the arrows of self-doubt?  Of inner demons and critics?  Despite the arrows embedded in her body, the woman’s expression seems melodramatic.  It’s almost as though she isn’t truly wounded but is acting as though she’s wounded.

That made me wonder about the nature of insecurity – at least in my case.  There are times when I claim to be insecure or self-effacing about something but in reality I’m just fishing for praise.  Have you ever found yourself doing that – seeking reassurance and reaffirmation that you are good at something (or at least not as bad as you fear)?  That’s the message I’m getting from this card today.  Her pose is so contrived and her expression so overly dramatic that I want to say “just get over yourself!”  And there are many times when I want to say that to myself too.

In relation to this question, I think she is telling me that I need to stop letting myself get held back by self-doubts and insecurities.  They can only hold me back if I allow them to do so.  They can only hurt me if I make them reality.  They are phantasms; illusory weapons that can only wound if I give them the power.

I often see this card as representing the reclaiming of one’s own power.  That can certainly apply here.  By not allowing the slings and arrows of self-doubts, negative opinions and inner critics to wound me and hold me back, I am reclaiming my power.  I am standing up and saying I can achieve anything as long as I believe in myself.  What a great message for such a beautiful day.

Wildwood 5 of Stones

It’s another gray, rainy, gloomy day here in the lower Hudson Valley.  I decided to ask what I might learn from this grayness because we’ve had quite a bit of it lately.  Using the Wildwood Tarot I drew the 5 of Stone.  The card shows a child huddled in  cave tending a fire – alone and isolated.  Perhaps the child is engaged in a rite of passage; a vision quest.  That can be an empowering and deeply spiritual experience but I don’t believe that aspects applies to my question today.

The card’s reversed nature suggests that the answer to my question is the opposite of this.  Instead of isolation and solitude I need to reconnect with people.  I need to reach out and communicate with friends and loved ones.  It makes perfect sense because a rainy, grey, gloomy day is the perfect time to make a pot of tea and chat on the phone with someone.  I may not be able to leave the house but that doesn’t mean I need to suffer in solitude.

On another level this card may be reminding me that being solitary allows me to focus within myself and find the answers I seek.  I don’t need to leave house to engage in a spirit quest, I simply need to find a place in the house where I can carve out some alone time; some time to focus on me.  Of course that can be easier said than done but I do think it’s important to do in order to keep my spiritual fires burning.

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