Archive for September, 2014

Mansions of the Moon Hierophant

Mansions of the Moon Tarot
by ZADOK (dahogue@nctc.com)
Self-Published

Traditional meaning – doctrine & dogma, passing along knowledge & traditions, spiritual guidance,

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card is full of Christian/Catholic imagery indicating its connection to traditional, orthodox religious beliefs. The priests are garbed in full regalia and express the power and authority of their office. The Eucharist and angels symbolize the connection to the divine while the doves represent the Holy Spirit. This card’s message suggests that following the path being offered by the priests is the way to find the keys to heaven – the connection to the divine. The doves are the messengers of the divine. They carry the Universe’s spiritual message to humanity. The angels are another reminder of the spiritual mysteries of the universe. And the priests are the guides through the golden archway to connect with these divine emissaries.

When I first viewed this card I was initially a bit turned off by the Christian symbolism, especially the priests, but upon further reflection it struck me that in the truest sense that is what a priest should be – not the strict, disciplinarian seeking to strike fear in the hearts of those who break the rules. Priests should be the guides and the teachers, gently giving us the knowledge, wisdom and support we need to find our own way through the golden archway to connect with the divine energy in the Universe.

Celtic Wisdom Rememberer

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999 ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The book says: The Rememberer of Lore transmits the wisdom of traditions by which we all live. The essential lore that we need to keep over before us is sung by the bard. What song is guiding you at this time?
Keywords: Tradition, Meditation, Exposition of ideas, Remembrance, Genius, Performance, Spiritual counsel, Sacred lore, Faithful maintenance.
Reversed: Hidebound or conformist concepts, Muddling, Misinformation, propaganda or conspiracy, Forgetfulness, adherence to narrow views.

TarotBroad’s Buzz:  This card speaks to me of the Bardic tradition in Celtic culture. The Bard was much more than a storyteller and singer. He memorized the genealogy of the kings, the myths and legends of the tribe, tribal law and the wisdom of the people. There are tales of Bards whose curses brought kingdoms crashing down. This card represents the keeper of traditions and lore. The one who passes the knowledge down to the younger generation to ensure it continues.

It is actually one of the more positive Hierophant images I’ve ever seen. When I see this card it reminds me that traditions and ancient legends are the foundations upon which our culture and history is based. It reminds of the saying that those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it (or something like that) and that is why the Rememberer is so important. If we don’t learn from the tales of our ancestors then we will continue to make the same mistakes and never advance to the next step in the cycle. The Rememberer serves as our spiritual guide along the path.

At the same time he appears isolated and solitary. The wreath that surrounds him also serves to separate him from others. The Bard may need to be solitary in order to focus his energy and his mind upon his art. But he may also be solitary because those who remind us of the past may often raise issues we prefer not to face. On some level this serves to connect him with the Hermit. He cannot be alone because by its nature his work requires him to go out amongst the people to hear their stories and to share them with others. But his travels may also prevent him from putting down roots in community. So while he can help others learn and remember the tales and traditions of our ancestors, he also serves as the thread connecting different communities to each others; part of the pattern and yet separate. He teaches the lore but does not necessarily participate in the making of the history.

Have you ever had a moment when you become filled with envy listening to a friend gushing over some recent bit of good fortune? Have you ever wanted to shriek with fury because you’re listening to your dream come true for someone else? Then you feel awful because instead of feeling happy for your friend, you are letting envy taint the moment? I have and it’s a horrible feeling. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and (if you’re anything like me) feeling like a lousy, rotten friend.

I’ve noticed that the green-eyed monster tends to rear its ugly head when I am feeling especially unspecial in my own life. It’s when I feel trapped, unsuccessful and unproductive that I am most likely to succumb to envy. It’s a sympathetic, seductive bitch of an emotion. It preys on insecurities and self-doubts. It convinces you that as long as your friend (or anyone else) is successful you can never be. It convinces you that there is only so much pie to go around and if your friend is enjoying a big slice then you won’t get any for yourself.

Of course none of this is true. However the strength of envy is that it doesn’t deal in reality it deals in illusion and self-doubts. It undermines our self-esteem and self-worth. It strikes when we are at our weakest. It sucks and makes a lousy period in your life even more lousy. So what can a person do about this? Not really sure, all I can describe is how I deal with it.

The first step that I find helpful is to acknowledge that I’m feeling envy. Sometimes I’ll even admit to the friend that it’s happened. That seems to take the fangs out of it. Then I need to look at my life and see what triggered the envy. Once I can see that more clearly I can figure out ways to diffuse the envy. Many times acknowledging the envy is the best solution. If that’s not enough then sometimes journaling through it or talking to a friend helps too.

For me, the best way to alleviate the envy is to find ways to feel more accomplished or satisfied in my own life. Focusing on the little things that make me happy – tea, friends, books. Other times I find that something like a gratitude journal or simply writing down a list of things I’m grateful for help improve my mood and attitude. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have in my life (which is often what triggered my envy in the first place), I focus on what brings joy into my life. It’s a simple, small step but I’ve found it’s very powerful.

When I first joined ADF I didn’t understand their belief in orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. What you believed wasn’t as important as what you did?  This confused me – how could I follow a ritual in which I didn’t believe? For a long time this was something of a sticking point for me. It didn’t make sense; didn’t feel right. In the past year or so I’ve finally come to understand what they mean (or at least my take on what that means)

How many times have I claimed to believe in something but my actions would seem to belie that claim. It would be the same as a union employee buying non-union products. If I were a union employee then wouldn’t I want to support other union employees? If I believe in freedom of religion and separation of church and state then I should make sure I don’t patronize businesses that try to blur those lines. Sometimes this is not a clearcut area such as the recent issue with Hobby Lobby violating the Affordable Care Act by refusing to cover women’s contraception. On the one hand as a privately held, family-owned company I respect Hobby Lobby’s desire to enact policies that support those beliefs. At the same time I do not believe employees should be denied certain protections because of the owners’ religious beliefs. Not an easy call to make (although I will admit to usually coming down on the side of the employee).

Having said that, while I might mock Hobby Lobby’s Christian bias, that has not stopped me from shopping there in the past. To be honest I admire the fact that they are so upfront about their beliefs. There is a sign right on the entrance to the store I’ve visited that clearly states they are closed on Sunday so their employees can worship with their families. If I am apposed to their beliefs then I shouldn’t shop there. If I do then I am giving lie to what I’ve stated I believe as well as supporting a company whose practices I dislike.

That example might be a bit convoluted. I wrote it and I’m not sure how clearly it expresses what I’m trying to say. I guess at it’s core orthopraxy is putting your money where your mouth is while orthodoxy can easily become nothing more than paying lip service to something. I can claim to believe in anything but if my behaviors don’t follow suit then my beliefs are so much hot air.

If I claim to be against racism and prejudice but laugh at jokes that rely on ethnic slurs and stereotypes what am I really showing the world? If I claim I am a Druid (or Wiccan or whatever) but never actually attend or conduct rituals or engage in any sort o spiritual practice then am I really a Druid? It seems to me that I’d really be some sort of poseur. To be perfectly honest I haven’t been very orthodox or orthoprax lately. That is something I plan to change. In a perfect world I would act “right” and believe “right” but right now all I care about is living “right” – at least right for me.

Wheel of Change Hierophant

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

The Book says: “When this card is part of your reading, look carefully at what part your faith plays in your life. What do you put your faith in: your work, your religion, your children, your self, a particular teacher, or the future? Do you have any faith in your life? . . .

The second part of the interpretation of this card is to examine the possibly negative aspects of one’s faith. We must be aware that the dogma we acquire through various religions and attitudes can be used to justify – without examination – all manner of behaviors. We must look carefully at how our rights and wrongs are determined and whether they arise out of a true sense of the common good or out of a need to require conformity to a narrow dogma.”

TarotBroad’s Buzz:  I admit that the concepts represented by this are ones that I often find difficult to accept. I have a negative knee-jerk reaction to most organized religions and that is what The Hierophant represents to me. However, the longer I consider this card the more I realize that, just as with all the other cards, it has both positive and negative associations.

The positive aspects of the Hierophant are the peace and calm that rituals and spiritual beliefs can bring to followers. In times of crisis people often find refuge and consolation in their religious beliefs. It is that feeling of welcome and belonging one feels in a church or temple. That calming and soul-soothing sense of timeless and eternal spirit. I never remember feeling this during religious services but I do recall feeling this at odd moments when I would enter a church to light a candle or just to sit quietly.

The negative side of the Hierophant can be seen in blind obedience and close-mindedness that can accompany any organized (and many disorganized) religious system. I often see this as the political arm of any church. It is the hierarchical structure that seeks to maintain control over its followers. I find it interest that Jesus would probably be horrified at the atrocities done in his name. Then again I know many Pagans who seem to be heading down the same dogmatic “Paganer than thou” path. Both sides of this coin are what come to mind when I see the Hierophant – both spirituality and dogmatic organization.

I have been in a black mood for the past few days, maybe even weeks. I’ve been moody, bitchy, angry and resentful. Don’t get me wrong, I can slip into moods like this for brief periods of time but they don’t tend to last longer than a day or two. I’ve explored different options to get to the bottom of these moods. None of them felt right or entirely accurate. They each show a piece of the puzzle but I still wasn’t seeing the whole picture.

Then while I was emailing a friend it hit me like a bolt of lightning – it was my old seasonal affective disorder kicking in. In reality I don’t think I have true seasonal affective disorder but what I do have is a black mood that settles over me when it’s “back to school” time and I’m not returning to school. I can sometimes alleviate it by buying myself new notebooks, pens and other school-related items but that only works when I realize that I need to do it. This year I seem to have missed a step. Instead I was blaming my mood on other factors.

Now that I have a clearer view of what is causing this mood I can create a game plan to deal with it. I need to find ways to fill the need I have for structure learning experiences I also need to work on reducing my reliance on external validation and motivation. It’s time to be more internally motivated and validated. In this current situation in my life opportunities for external validation are rarer than hen’s teeth so I need to find another way to maintain my sanity. I know what I should do, now it’s time to start actually doing it.

Alice Tarot by Baba Studios

I’ve been working with the newly released Alice Tarot by Karen Mahony and Alex Ulukov of Baba Studios, it is a visually stunning deck that draws us into the world of Alice during her adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Alice

 

This is not a review of the deck.  So far I’m enjoying the charming, quirky and beautiful artwork although I will admit that I feel a strong need to re-read the books so I’ll be more familiar with the characters and plot.

Alice 3

In the meantime I hope folks enjoy the art and that it encourages them to add this lovely deck to their collection.

Alice 2

The other day I was watching an In Search Of . . episode about the Yeti. It explored the legends of the Sherpas in the Himalayas as well as experiences of those who climbed Everest. One of the things that gets me with shows like that is the people who insist on concrete objective proof. I realize that it would be great if such evidence was available but on some level I like believing even if I don’t know for sure.

There is something magical and wondrous about believing there are still creatures in this world that we can’t explain or even prove exist. Sasquatch, Yeti, the Fauk “monster” – all share similar traits and physical characteristics. They are all humanoid and tend to avoid contact with humans. Most are described as being non-violent unless provoked. Are they real? Who knows? What is reality? What is real for some folks would be considered lies or myths to others. Some folks have no problem believing in the existence of an omnipotent deity but can’t believe in something like a Sasquatch.

I prefer to believe in the possibility and potential for unknown creatures to still exist on this Earth. I’m sure there are still unidentified creatures living at the bottom of the ocean or hidden in the remaining wilderness of a rain forest. Who knows what may yet be found beneath the ocean or a canopy of trees. Why can’t we accept that beings might live on this Earth which elude our scrutiny. It seems rather arrogant for humans to assume we have all the answers (and there are lots who do). I sometimes fall victim to this but I’m working on trusting in the Universe; in believing in mystical, mythical creatures. It makes the world so much more colorful and magical.

Blue Rose Emperor

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance, 2001

The Book says: He is the Emperor. Like the Empress, he has many gifts to offer a journeying Fool. He brings logic, order and structure to our physical world. He provides protection with the force of his will and the strength of his arm. He defends us from those who would threaten us and maintains the boundaries of what is ours. Because of him, we dwell safe and secure.

The strength and magic of the Great Father lies in that dual capacity to provide not only the force of his protection, but also the enormous strength of his love. Strength and tenderness combine in him and it is important to remember that, while he is a great Warrior, he is also a great Father.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I think Yul Brynner as the Emperor was very appropriate. Every fiber in his body shouts his confidence, self-esteem and absolutely conviction that he is wise and knows what is best for his people and his family. His arrogance is both obvious and somehow touching. You get the feeling that he is a benevolent tyrant. I have to be honest – I’ve never seen The King and I (I just can’t sit through MGM style musicals). But even in my two favorite Yul Brynner roles (Ramses in The Ten Commandments and Chris in The Magnificent Seven) he embodies the positive and negative aspects of The Emperor.

He believes that his decisions are for the best and will benefit his people. Sometimes his arrogance makes him unable to see how self-serving they may also be. His pride ensures that you have to be very cautious in how you approach him. But he is not unreasonable or unable to listen to reason. He may be stubborn and set in his ways, perhaps even trapped by his position and the weight of its responsbilities. But he is not mean-spirited or unnecessarily harsh. He is a protector and a leader, and will do what is necessary to carry out his duties to the best of his abilities.

 

 

Thoughtful Thor’s Day

Lately I find myself pondering family dynamics. Why do seemingly healthy families implode when it becomes necessary to care for an elderly, ailing parent? I understand if the parent needs to be placed in an institution because their needs cannot be met at home but I’ve seen so many instances of siblings verbally brawling with each other when it comes time to arrange such things.

I’ve observed that in many cases parental care falls on one child. It is usually the child who lives closet to the parent but that is not always the case. The adult child may still have responsibilities to spouse or children that must be met and now caring for a parent has been added to these burdens. The other siblings may visit or take the parent out for a few hours (or even a few days) but the majority of the day to day care falls on one sibling. The others siblings often undermine the caregiver by intervening in conflicts between child/caregiver and parent. For example the caregiver may not want the parent to eat certain foods because they caused digestive issues but one of the siblings will ignore this and tell the parent he/she doesn’t need to listen to you. It’s frustrating, infuriating and exhausting for the caregiver.

Then when the parent passes away or needs to be institutionalized, all the arrangements fall to the caregiver. If finances are involved then all bets are off – it’s clobbering time. Placing a parent in a long-term care facility is expensive. Even the least expensive facilities will put a serious dent in a family’s budget. That can quickly become a bone of contention between the siblings who want their parent to have the best care possible but can’t afford the rates.

And then, when the parent finally passes away, the division of the estate becomes a battle royale. Each child squares off in one corner and prepares to fight to the death for what they feel is their rightful inheritance. The fact that the majority of the burden of care for the parent has fallen on one child is erased from the memory banks as the other children scratch and claw for their piece of the pie. So many people do no leave a will so the “estate’ goes into probate and adds another layer of confusion of legal interference to the situation. By the time the dust has cleared the siblings are no longer speaking, the caregiver feels betrayed, unappreciated and angry and the only ones who walk away with more money than they had coming into it are the lawyers.

I’m in a situation that will probably follow this pattern some day. Hubby has an older brother who hasn’t spoken to their mother in 5 years and hasn’t seen her since their father’s funeral in 2005. To be perfectly honest I’m not even sure where he’s living right now. I’m assuming he’s still alive because I’m sure if something had happened to him one of his ex-wives would tell us – then again maybe not. When the mom-in-law finally breathes her last, I have no doubt we will receive a call from him seeking his inheritance. That should prove fun.

I wonder what is it about these situations that brings out the worst in families. Instead of working together to ensure the burden is shared, so many people undermine or denigrate the caregiver’s efforts. The other family members act as if it’s the caregiver’s duty to take on this burden. It also seems to bring out a lot of latent, unresolved issues such as parental favoritism, sibling rivalry and just plain old jealousy. In a time when we like to claim it takes a village to raise a child I’d like to point out that it takes one to care for an elderly parent too. If a village or tribe isn’t available it would be nice if one could count on one’s siblings to help. Unfortunately in my experience that is the exception rather than the rule.

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