Archive for August, 2015

Dark Goddess Devil Tlazolteotl

For some reason the other day I found myself pondering the sin of envy. I’m not really big on thinking about sins but the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that envy might just be the worst of the batch. When I think of the acts that envy has caused individuals and societies to commit, it reinforces this perception. I suppose none of the seven deadly sins are especially pleasant, sloth, gluttony, pride, and wrath don’t seem to wreak the havoc that greed, lust, and envy do. To me, greed and lust seem to be different shades of envy. We become greedy because we envy what others have and we don’t. Lust, although often sexual in nature, is also a sin triggered by what we see others have and we envy and lust for their possessions or relationship. In fact in many situations we use lust almost interchangeably with envy.

I also think envy has grown more predominant in our society lately. As television, social media and a 24-hour news cycle makes the world a smaller place, we are also more aware of what we don’t have in our own lives. Beginning with shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous and continuing with such media darlings as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, we are continually exposed to lives which can most likely never achieve ourselves. At the same time we realize that these people are not better than us. This may result in feelings of envy because we find it difficult to accept that they deserve what they have and that we deserve to have more. Instead of being satisfied with our lives and what we have, we grow envious. We lust for what we see others have and become greedy to have more “things” in our own lives.

Blue Rose Tarot 9 of Pentacles

The term consumer society is often tossed around to describe our current society. It is predicated on the need to generate envy, lust and greed. We won’t buy new things if we don’t feel these emotions driving us to do it. How many of us must have the latest, greatest thing? Every time a new iPhone is released, people line up, sometimes for days, to be sure they’re among the chosen few to be blessed with this latest technological innovation. I can count the people I watched get rid of televisions that worked fine in order to acquire the latest in flat screen technology. People update their computers for no other reasons than a new model is available. Many people no long own cars, they lease them and upgrade them every two years.

Legacy of the Divine 4 of Coins

It’s as though we’ve been primed and programmed to be dissatisfied with our lives. We’re told the only way to heal this dissatisfaction is to buy new things. We let envy, greed & lust push us to spend more than we can afford in pursuit of an illusory goal. I am as guilty of this kind of behavior as anyone else but my envy, greed and lust are focused more on books and Tarot decks. I see images of other Tarot reader’s decks and am suddenly filled with lust to own a copy for myself. Then once I get it, I rarely work with it. The lust, greed and envy overwhelm me and once they’ve been satiated, I no longer have an interest in the object of desire.

Bohemian Gothic Devil

Much of this reminds me of The Devil card. We are chained, trapped and imprisoned by envy. We allow our greed and lust to control our behaviors and then try to project them on an external source. We keep reaffirming our addiction by falling into the same pattern of conspicuous consumption and consumerism.

Dark Goddess Tower Kali

In an effort to kill this particular devil and break free of these chains, I’ve decided to change my pattern. I’m going to commit to making September a no purchase month. Instead of purchasing anything new during the month of September, I am going to “shop my closet”. I’m going to look over what I already own – books, Tarot decks, clothing and actually put them to use. Rather than add to the mess of my already cluttered life, I’m going to start paring back. I’m going to review my possessions and either use it or prune it. I’ve had books in my collection for 15 years and I haven’t read them yet. If that’s the case then I have to assume I’ll never read it. If a Tarot deck does not ignite a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart, then it needs to be released to find a new home. Clothes that no long fit or were never really “me” will be given or thrown away. Once I get rid of the extraneous things that envy, greed and lust convinced me to buy, I can get to the core of who I truly am and what I really want to do with my life. Somehow I doubt buying more stuff will aid this process at all.

Changeling syndrome

My mother doesn’t understand me. In fact most of my family doesn’t either. Don’t misunderstand – they love me. I have no doubt of that at all, but they often seemed bemused by me. It’s as though I’m a changeling dropped into their lap and they’re not sure what to make of me. I’m more introverted and less social than my siblings. I’ve never felt having a large circle of friends and acquaintances was important while my sister and brother seem to befriend almost everyone they meet. I also don’t’ believe I’m alone in this sensation. I’m sure lots of folks out there have felt their family did not understand them. In fact I have no doubt that at various points in time my siblings have been positive that I don’t understand them either; and they’d be right.

So why am I bringing this up? It’s just been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I recently had an experience where I shared what I considered to be an interesting insight with my mother and she snorted at me! Yes, she snorted at me! At that moment I realized that while my mother loves me and remembers who I was as a child but she rarely understood my motivations or thoughts and beliefs. To her credit, I’m sure she tried but I was not the most forthcoming child. Add to this three more children, a demanding and needy husband and a job that required a lot of overtime and my mother didn’t have a lot of time on her hands to dedicate to getting me to open up. It was easier to just let me alone as long as I didn’t get in trouble, and I was rarely in that kind of trouble.

Over the years I have come to believe that I make my mother uncomfortable. Over the years we’ve had conversations during which she revealed that for many years I intimidated her. She felt I judged her and found her wanting. She’s right – I was judgmental because I could not understand why my mother tolerated the abuse she received from my father. I suppose it speaks volumes for my mother that although she did not understand me, she did manage to raise me to be strong enough not to put up with that kind of abuse myself. She also loved me enough to tolerate my intolerable arrogance and judgmental attitude. We have managed to forge a very good, solid, supportive relationship over the last few years. Once I realized that many of the issues that troubled our relationship were as much mine as hers. This was another minor epiphany for me.

I am offering this to others out there who have had troubled relationships with family members; those who often felt misunderstood and alienated from them. Remember that sometimes our memories are faulty and that we tend to view such situations from our own, self-serving perspectives. Instead of clinging to our conviction that we were right and our relatives are don’t love us because they didn’t understand us, try looking at things differently. Be a bit more open-minded and honest with yourself; accept that some of this might be on you too. Of course I’m not talking about abusive family relationships – those are often broken beyond repair. I’m talking about more typical family dysfunction that can be overcome by some honestly, open-mindedness and love on both sides. Maybe you’re not quite the changeling you’ve believed yourself to be.

Alchemy – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Alchemy

 

Transformational Tarot
Created by Arnell Ando
Published by Ink Well Publishing
ISBN #0-9649386-3-4

The Book says: The blending of opposites. A conscious effort to achieve balance and harmony. In relationships, compromise and a balance of emotion and intellect is needed. Emotions that don’t flow stagnate. Creativity, transformation, alchemy: the mixture of diverse elements in order to create something new. Every part essential to the whole. For example, an engine can not operate correctly if even a small part is missing or broken, it also happens that one thing can upset all other aspects of your life.

TarotBroad’s Buzz:  This image reminds me of the goddess of the land pouring her creative and fertile energies onto the land. She is at one with the land, incorporating its strength and is solidness into her being. Her dress looks like the snakeskin has become part of her body. She has incorporated the snake’s ability to shed its useless skin and emerge rejuvenated. The fluid flowing from the urn is more than water, it is the source of life itself. It is what allows the land to transform and bloom; to go from lifeless and barren to bursting with life and energy.

The lady is the source of life and the force of her energy and her love is what guides us to a place of balance and healing, of harmony and unity. She teaches us how to become whole, how to integrate our various parts into a unified being. We are light and dark, passive and aggressive, masculine and feminine, lunar and solar. If we cannot integrate and accept these various parts then we run the risk of cutting off part of ourselves. And one cannot live if one denies part of who we are.

Temperance – Mansions of the Moon Tarot

Mansions of the Moon Temperance

 

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

The LWB says: Temperance traditionally symbolizes balance, moderation, taking the middle path, spiritual healing, calm and serenity.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: There is a sense of peace, tranquility and serenity in this image. One gets the feeling of seeing a maiden conducting a purification ritual. She is seeking out the clear, cool waters of the babbling stream to help wash away whatever negativity has accumulated in her life. She is our guide and our healer. She helps us feel restored and washed clean.

She is able to accept the darker side of life and transform its energy into something healthy and beneficial. That is the key to her power. She transforms and transmutes the negative into positive, she balances the emotional and the practical, the intellectual and the spiritual. She is the nymph of Spring, whose will to bring forth life transforms the seemingly dead and lifeless earth into a fertile, green paradise.

Because I could not stop for Death

Jodorowsky Death

 

Today for my AM Tarot tweet I drew Death reversed from the Tarot de Marseilles. The image is quite stark and dramatic. The only figure is the scythe-wielding skeleton. Various body parts are scattered at the skeleton’s feet, like something out of an episode of Dexter. There is a relentlessness and implacability to this image. Death no longer human, if it ever was. There is no reasoning, no pleading to be spared. Death does not make deals and no one is spared. As The Doors sang “no one here gets out alive”.

Modern society seems to do everything it can to stave off death or avoid facing its reality. Much of the medical treatment I’ve seen for the elderly seems to focus on maintaining life regardless of quality. They have the ability to stabilize the body but not actually improve the situation. So if a patient is suffering from liver disease or some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the doctors can keep the body going but not actually heal it. I’ve watched both my in-law’s go through this process. My father-in-law’s health would deteriorate to the point that he had to be hospitalized. We would be told he had a 10% chance of improvement. Then 2 days later he had been stabilized enough so he could return home only to have the cycle repeated a few months later.

I’m not trying to promote euthanasia (although the longer I see similar scenarios played out, the more of a proponent I become) and I don’t blame the medical profession for this situation. They are simply doing what society and the law demands they do. As a society we seem to have developed an imperative that death must be postponed as long as possible regardless of consequences. If a family decided to just let an elderly parent die at home by not taking her/him to the hospital, could the family be brought up on legal charges? After watching what my husband’s family went through with his father, I often questioned why we kept returning him to the hospital when his health deteriorated. We knew he would not get better. All the hospital could do was stabilize him enough so that he could return home. It was a relentless cycle that eventually broke my mother-in-law and led to the situation I now face.

I have come to appreciate that there truly are worse fates than death. Lingering on in a state of limbo is one of them. In fact it’s made me question why anyone would want to be immortal – assuming it was possible. Watching everything one knows and loves die or change has to case psychological damage. I become melancholic just thinking about the changes I’ve seen in my life. What would my mental state be after centuries of change?

In the original Star Trek they dealt with such scenarios in two episodes that I recall. In one, Capt. Kirk finds himself on an empty Enterprise with a female he doesn’t know. We eventually learn she is the daughter of the ruler of a planet The Enterprise has recently visited. The planet knew no death or illness and as a result had become so overpopulated that it could no longer support itself. At various points throughout the episode Kirk hears heartbeats and we eventually learn this is the sound of the hearts of the populace of the planet that surrounds the fake Enterprise. It is overwhelming to hear. The woman eventually becomes ill and is happy. That was her goal – to become infected with a disease which Kirk carried but was immune to so that she could bring it back to her people. Many had volunteered to become infected in order to ease the pressure on their planet and because they no longer wanted to live. In another episode, (Requiem for Methuselah) Kirk and Spock meet Flint, a man who has lived for centuries. He had been Leonardo da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great among others. In an effort to ameliorate his loneliness he had created a android companion. The crew eventually learn that Flint is slowly dying and it seems it will be a relief for him.

Dark Goddess Death

Humans seem to crave immortality (some moreso than others). Many see their children as a way of achieving that goal. Others pursue public works or donate money so that hospital wings or even buildings will be named for them. The sad truth is that nothing lasts forever, not even the greatest works of humanity. The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and Stonehenge are slowing eroding. “Civilizations” great achievements – towering skyscrapers, enormous damns and glittering arenas can be washed away in an instant. Today’s celebrities are tomorrow’s “whatever happened to?” fodder. Today’s heroes become little more than entries in a history book to the next generation. The truth is that everything changes, everything dies. We do not need to court death but I think if we can manage to appreciate the blessings it offers we might find a sense of peace within ourselves about its inevitability.

The Mingler – Celtic Wisdom Tarot

Celtic Wisdom Mingler

 

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

The book says: The Mingler shows Coventina, Goddess of the holy spring at Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall, which seems to have been popular with woman who left offerings in return for safe delivery from childbirth.
Keywords: Combinations, moderation, coordination, adaptation, harmony, compatibility, fusion, alchemical tempering, subtle adjustment, gifts of experience.
Reversed: Discord, intemperance, hysteria, fragmentation, hostility, extremism, clash of interests, inability work with others, clumsy mishandling, failure to learn from experience.
Soul-Wisdom: The Mingler of Energy modifies our actions. It is by her vigorous churning that milk becomes butter, that our unformulated aspects become solidified. The ability to combine, to draw out the right decision or idea for the circumstances, lies in her gift. What is experience teaching you?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Once again I see a theme of blending, mingling and healing. Coventina guards the well and guides us into its swirling depths. She helps us submerge ourselves into the waters and emerge cleansed, healed and transformed. Irish (and Celtic) mythology and legend are rife with healing wells which offer the blessings of the goddess. The waters of the well are also a reminder that there is a depth and a hidden aspect to our natures that is necessary to truly heal ourselves. If we don’t plunge to those depths and explore the darkness found there we can never truly be whole.

We often fear our dark, shadow side. But if we are unable to embrace it and incorporate it into our daily lives we risk a splitting off. It reminds me of the line from a Captain & Tenille song “you are sunlight, you are shadow, you are darkness, you are light”. That is true, we are all of these things and more. But the goddess of Temperance, The Mingler, helps us learn to mingle these different energies and integrate them into a harmonious unit.

I am not the cynic I believe myself to be

Wildwood Pole Star

Tonight, while sitting on the porch staring up at a deep blue canopy of stars, I found myself thinking about H.P. Lovecraft and his view of the Universe as a cold, distant, uncaring and even hostile place. I realized that while I may enjoy reading his eerily eldritch stories, I do not subscribe to this viewpoint. As I sipped tea and stared at the stars I felt as though all of my ancestors were looking down and watching over me. I had a sense of connection and belonging. It was as though the Universe cared, even if it couldn’t do much to show me right now. It filled me with a sense of hope and wonder.

Mythic Tarot Star

The more I thought about it the more I felt like Pandora in Greek legend. Despite being surrounded by a world filled with personal and global ills, I do have a sense of hope. I harbor and nourish that little seedling even through the darkest times. I have layered this spark in a thick, protective hedge of sharp thorns and snarky barbs but it glows within me and refuses to allow itself to be diminished or extinguished. She dances within, occasionally surprising me with her exuberance and strength.

As imperfect as my life might be right now, there are moments of transcendent joy and beauty. They are usually such simple things as enjoying a cup of tea or seeing the heron that has taken to hanging out nearby. They are easy to miss and dismiss but recently Joanna Powell Colbert shared a practice of honoring Happiest Moment of the Day (#HMOTD). I have decided to participate in this practice. It’s so easy to focus on the misery, unhappiness and chaos that swirls around us. It’s more challenging to find the joy and happiness in small things; brief moments.

Pearls of Wisdom Star

I must admit, my surprise at realizing that I am an optimist.  For so long I viewed my self as a pessimist. Now I need to readjust that and say I’m a practically cautious optimist – I brace myself for the worst but hope for the best. It’s also a relief to finally embrace this side of myself. Sometimes it’s exhausting keeping up the charade of being a pessimist. Of course that doesn’t mean I’m not a cranky optimist prone to rants and bouts of snarkiness, but that just add more dimensions and layers to my personality.

Temperance – Wheel of Change Tarot

Wheel of Change Temperance

 

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
ISBN #0-89281-609-0

The Book says: Temperance is a symbol of the magic you experience in your life. Temperance is a card of integration; it points to the action required to actually create something new. You must be willing to stand like the goddess in the card, who physically combines the opposites, and like her you must take action. This action will place you in direct relationship with what has appeared to be separate and outside of you until now. Through the action of this important card you will find yourself involved in this dynamic part of this new relationship.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I blend, I merge, I transform you. I am the crucible in which your different parts are heated and melded into one unit. I nurse you on blood and on milk, on fire and on water, on passion and on love. This is the message of the Goddess of Temperance. She offers us the polarities in life and teaches us how to forge it into a coherent whole. She teaches us how to integrate our different parts without diluting or losing their importance. She is not about mixing everything so that there is no distinction between them. But she does teach us how to swirl, spin and twirl those energies into a lovely design.

The goddess of Temperance reminds us that we don’t all need to believe the same things or behave in the same way. We are strengthened, enriched and enhanced by the differences. Just look at the Tarot community – we all benefit from the different and varied viewpoints we all bring to the table. On some level this card reminds me of the United States itself. We used to call ourselves the Melting Pot. But over the years we have learned the importance of honoring and celebrating our differences while we continue to work together for the greater good. The events following Sept 11th prove that we still have some work to do. But if we work with the goddess of Temperance and heed her magick and her lessons, perhaps we will ultimately be able to achieve it. We can begin to follow the Vulcan credo of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination). What a joyous moment that will be.

I have spent the last six years caring for my ailing mother-in-law. In that time I have seen her deteriorate from a semi-independent woman who needed assistance such as preparing meals and handling other household tasks to someone who needs help with the most basic facets of life. It saddens me because in her prime my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent woman. Despite the fact that she has a developmentally disabled son, she never asked for help. Now she is unable to walk without assistance. What makes it both sadder and a relief is that she is unaware of how helpless she is. She is like an infant – knowing only that she needs something and relying on someone else to provide it.

Dark Goddess Death

I feel like Death’s handmaiden. I am not in any way contributing to this process (although dealing with this has given me a new appreciation for euthanasia). My task is to calm her, provide what she needs (to the best of my ability) and try to ensure she’s not alone if/when her time comes. Having said all of this, I cannot help and will not justify the resentment I feel about this situation; the rage that flares up inside me at unexpected moments. The desperate wish I have that it would all just be over and I could reclaim my life again.

I am no saint or martyr. This current situation is intolerable to me. I detest it with every fiber of my being. Sometimes I practically vibrate with it. Every effort made to find assistance from external sources (government agencies, visiting nurse services, etc.) has either proven to be a dead end or beyond our financial means. I’m not willing to put this woman, who spent much of her life caring for family members, into a nursing home where she will be strapped down and drugged until her body can take no more. I may hate the lack of control and independence I have in my life right now but I would have that situation even more. I also don’t think I could forgive myself for it.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances have spouted various platitudes about some divine being who does not give us more than we can handle. Generally my response is either a pained grimace or a colorful rejoinder which includes various profanities (depending upon how well I know the person). I bitch and moan to anyone and everyone who will listen, including the indifferent gods whose existence I honor. I get it – this will end when it is meant to end. However I must reiterate that it sucks beyond measure.

The main take-away I’ve gotten from this experience is a fierce determination not to find myself in a similar situation. I have no one that I can count on to care for me if I end up like my mother-in-law. I’ve also seen the various nursing home facilities available for elderly people in this condition and the reality is that if a family member is not a regular visitor and if one’s health coverage doesn’t provide enough benefits, the patient/family member ends up ignored, neglected, and even abused in some circumstances. That thought gives me nightmares.

Wheel of Change Death

I don’t believe we deal well with death in our modern culture. We fight it with a desperate determination that often results in circumstances like this one. The body keeps going because medical technology can maintain the status quo but it can’t do much to stop the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So the body is kept alive and as healthy as possible while the mind continues to disintegrate.

Support services for caregivers who are tending to family members in this condition are minimal and (in my experience) woefully inadequate. It’s wonderful that there are support groups, but if I cannot leave the family members alone how exactly do I attend? Home visits from doctors? Oh sure they still happen, just not in this part of the county. Home care assistance? It’s available but not to my mother-in-law because she’s not on Medicaid. My brother-in-law (who is deaf and retarded) is eligible but services cannot be activated without a doctor’s approval. No doctors make home visits in this area and he will not leave the house without a serious fight. It’s a Catch-22 that leaves you bitter, exhausted and defeated. I hate it!!! In fact, I cannot stress how much I hate it. The only thing I would hate more is to have to institutionalize these two people that I love. I accept that. It’s the trade-off I make in my life. I’ll put things on hold to tend to them and I can still face myself in the mirror and sleep at night. It’s not a perfect situation but it’s the best I can do right now.

So if there is anyone else out there who has found themselves in similar circumstance, please know that you have my respect and admiration. It’s a thankless task that is fairly unappreciated by the wider society. Make sure you keep in touch with friends somehow or else the isolation with warp you. Take care of yourself. Even if all you can do is spend 10 minutes every day one yourself, treat that time as sacred. I’ve done the “giving my all to the relatives” trip and burnt out quick. I have found the work of Jennifer Louden and SARK to be inspirational and helpful in dealing with all of this. I still find it difficult to balance time for me with their needs but I’m stumbling along and finding ways. And if your choices are different than my own and you had to make the agonizing decision to institutionalize your loved one, please know that you have my sympathy and support. No one else can understand what you went through and how difficult it was for you to make that decision. Don’t allow anyone to shame you because of it. We are all just doing the best we can in this life and shouldn’t be held to someone else’s standards or expectations.

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