Handling a 7 of Wands relationship style

Several years ago I attended a workshop in NYC lead by Rachel Pollack (quite frankly if I had the ability I’d attend any workshop Rachel facilitates). The focus of the class was how we approach relationships. My card was the 7 of Wands. Looking at the image on the card I realized that it pretty much does describe my approach to relationships in general, not just romantic ones. I fiercely defend my perimeter and only let in those who have proven to be worthy.

When I first met my hubby, I was a prickly defensive, cranky bitch (oh who am I kidding, I still am all those things). I only had a small circle of friends because I didn’t trust many people. In fact I was more than willing to cut friends and even family off if they violated one of my “rules” or offended me in some way. Usually it wasn’t something petty (or at least I didn’t think so at the time) but what I considered betrayal or disloyalty. Of course in retrospect some of those issues do seem petty. The point is that I learned to shore up my defenses because I had enough experiences that supported my belief that it was essential.

I love seeing thins in mythic terms so I often describe myself as a Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) type. Not because of the fairy godmothers or sleeping thing but because she was surrounded by a thick hedge of sharp, twisted thorns. For someone to get through that hedge he or she had to be focused, determined and a fighter. Perhaps this is the same reason I’ve always felt a connection to the myth of Brunhilde the valkyrie. I understand and sympathize with her fury at learning she was betrayed by Sigurd. I would have sought vengeance too. For that matter I understand Betty Broderick’s actions too. These are women who are forced into violent responses because they have been betrayed by the men in their lives. They are defending their home, their family, their heart, their integrity. I’m not necessarily defending their responses, but I do understand them.

I have learned to lower my defenses occasionally. I realized that I can always raise those defenses later on if it became necessarily. It was not easy and involved me fighting against a lot of instinctive and unconscious behaviors. The first step was literally training myself to look at incidences when my defenses flared up and explore what triggered them. I also considered what might have happened had I been more open. In some cases I’m convinced my instincts were right. In others I believe they caused me to miss out on an experience, event or friendship that might have enriched my life. I think that was the final impetus to change my stance. It’s one thing to be protective of one’s boundaries but when they become isolationist and start preventing one from enjoying new experiences and friendships then changes are probably in order. Lots of introspective Tarot readings helped me work through this (although to be honest I got a lot of repeat answers – the Tarot’s way of telling me I wasn’t paying attention).

As a result of this work I am not quite so isolated and unapproachable. I like to believe I can still rise to my own defense if the occasion calls for it. I feel safe and secure in my life, my body and in my ability to protect and defend my boundaries. That was not the case in my childhood and it caused me to developed very well established and fiercely guarded personal boundaries. Maybe I’m finally moving from the 7 of Wands approach to relationships to the 9 of Wands. I know I can rest, lay down my weapons and allow others to draw close. What a relief!

Heart’s blood flows no more

Swords of betrayal withdrawn

Move forward and heal

Just take the freakin’ compliment Part 2

So, as I thought about yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I didn’t actually offer any tips or ideas or insights that might help others dealing with similar issues. So this is just a few bullet points of what helped me. Your mileage may vary and believe me I’m not a professional so this is a very idiosyncratic list.

  • Train yourself to consciously accept compliments. This is both simpler and much more difficult than it seems. I think so many of us program ourselves (or are programmed) to consider compliments as dangerous because they draw attention to us. We’re afraid that being noticed will bring negative reactions from peers or rivals. It can lead to teasing and other less pleasant reactions. However I think we all need to say “Screw that!” in a loud, confident voice. We need to consciously stop those negative inner critics and allay our fears about the reactions of others and embrace those compliments for what they are – recognition of our efforts and hard work. They are verbal “Atta girls” and need to be treated as such – not as time bombs that might go off unexpectedly producing collateral damage.
  • Help others who suffer from the same issues. We all know people who respond in the same way to compliments – they deflect, self-deprecate and psychologically shuffle their feet. A nice, quiet, friendly reminder that they do deserve the “Atta girl” can go a long way towards healing that wound. Listen to what you tell them and then tell yourself the same thing the next time an occasion arises.
  • Remember that confidence is not the same as braggadocio. Next time you see a cocky, swaggering, bragging colleague or friend, look into their eyes or really listen to their voice. I’m betting you have someone who is just as fearful and mistrustful of compliments as you are they just process it differently. Try allaying their fears that no one will notice their hard work unless they draw attention to themselves. Help soothe the frightened beast that is convinced no one really appreciates them. Sometimes roaring is simply a way to gain attention. It’s a different approach to the same insecurities and self-doubts.
  • Considering that I use Tarot for so many things, naturally I work with them to address this issue too. There are a few ways to do this. One is a simple, straightforward reading on the topic focusing on what the roots of this insecurity are and how to heal it. Another technique that I’ve found useful is to use the cards to have conversations with yourself – your “inner child”, your inner fears, call them what you like. Sit down with a cuppa tea (or bottle of beer if that’s more your style) and ask questions. After each question pull a card and think about what the answer is. Treat it as though it’s an answer from the entity or part of yourself that you questioned. It’s amazing the results you can get from this technique because it bypasses many of our built in defenses and can reveal what we’ve been hiding from ourselves.
  • Friends and support networks are also invaluable in overcoming this. I’ve had amazing conversations with friends who will spontaneously volunteer compliments about my skills or knowledge. It’s gratifying and touching to realize that people whose opinions you value see you in such a valued way.

There are lots of other tools out there that can help with this issue. The self-help shelves in bookstores have lots of offerings (well the few brick & mortar bookstores that are left). I’m sure your local library will have some options or can borrow them for you through inter-library loan. Self-help groups and/or counseling can also provide beneficial insights and techniques if that’s your preference. The bottom line is to actively tackle the problem not let it continue to dominate your life. Yes, it can be a cheesy, over-used line in self-help circles but the bottom line is that you are worth it, you do have value. The trick is convincing yourself of that fact.

Just take the freakin’ compliment

While at Readers’ Studio, I was chatting with Elinor Greenberg and Diane Wilkes. During out chat Elinor turned to Kooch Daniels and commented that several of my blog posts incorporating Tarot and psychology were some of the most insightful writings on the topic that she had read. I immediately made a self-deprecating comment along the lines of “knowing my own bullshit”. Elinor commented “Just accept the freakin’ compliment”. That stopped me dead in my tracks. Like a lot of people, I find it easier to take criticism than praise. Why? What is there in my soul, my ego, that cringes at compliments?

I wasn’t always this way. As a child I was very much a solar baby – soaking up all the attention and praise that I could get. I was a very good student and relatively well behaved child. In fact I was often embarrassed by teachers telling my mother they wished they had a “classroom full of Debbies”. Looking back now I realize that I began shying away from praise when it began to cause mocking by peers. One incident in my junior year of high school is still seared into my psyche. I took typing and steno (because why the hell not?). During one class the teacher asked for volunteers to read the transcription we had just completed. I can’t remember if I volunteered or was selected but as I was reading it I could hear a voice from behind me mimicking and mocking me as I read aloud. I felt so hurt and defenseless. I started tearing up and knew I couldn’t let them see me cry because (as I’m sure many of us remember) high school can be quite a dog eat dog environment. Another classmate sitting next to me realized I was close to losing it and told the mocker to cut it out. I will always appreciate her defense of me. I managed to finish reading without breaking down but it really took the joy out of that class for me.

Looking back I realize that kind of thing happened a lot to me. Not as cruel as the mockery and mimicry but being teased for being a brainiac, egghead, using $100 words. Even friends would make comments about my vocabulary so instead of feeling proud about it, I ended up feel embarrassed, shamed. Even in my family I’ve heard comments like I “think too much” or that I’m the “smart one” as though it makes me an outsider. I sometimes joke that I’m a Lisa Simpson in a Bart & Homer kind of world. It’s funnier to say than it is to experience.

This is just my roundabout way of explaining why I resist compliments – because I always assume they’re actually backhanded insults; ways to mock and tease me. I hate feeling that vulnerable and exposed so I go into an offensive position – I make fun of myself before they can do it. I treat it like a joke so they won’t realize how much it truly hurts me. It’s amazing and sad to me that after 30+ years that incident still causes pain. It’s not as painful as it once was but there is still tenderness and soreness attached to the memory. It’s ironic that when I was on FaceBook I got a friend request from the same person behind that incident. Just another reason I prefer to not be on FaceBook.

CotD – 3 of Cups (Arcus Arcanum Tarot)

Joy!  Overflowing!

Filling hearts and cleansing souls

Beloved, cherished friends

Judgment – Mansions of the Moon Tarot

 

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

 

Traditional meaning: Experiencing the natural process of growth and maturation, principle of cosmic understanding, spiritual truth, change and transformation; a push, a call from within to make some important change; the final settlement of a matter; accepting the results of your decisions.

TarotBroad’s Theories: This card brings to mind the image of a loving parent who may be disappointed in a child’s behavior but who still loves the child and will continue to help offering guidance. Both the Virgin Mary and the Buddha are also well known figures of forgiveness and guidance. When we feel the need to be cleansed and purified, we pray to one of these beings for forgiveness. The Virgin Mary is often perceived as a gentle, nurturing figure who prays for sinners. And there are many stories of Jesus forgiving the past actions of others. But the key is that we must want to change, we must be willing to take the steps necessary to stop the behavior.

This card reminds me of a recovering substance abuser who finally cleans up his act and looks at the devastation his behavior has created in his life. Once this has been faced he has two choices – to run away from this knowledge by burying himself in his abusive behavior or to face the truth, forgive himself and move on trying to make amends where possible. We have this choice in our own lives. We can leave behind the self-defeating, critical inner voice that often holds us back and move forward with a sense of wholeness and newness. We are cleansed and purified. And the loving guidance these beings offer will be there, as long as we remain faithful and continue to follow the new path. We can move on to a new level, begin our lives on a new path, as long as we learn from the lessons of the past and don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. We can let it go, start anew and allow ourselves to forgive ourselves and release ourselves from our own negative energy. And once we can forgive ourselves, we open ourselves up to a new world of possibilities.

CotD – 3 of Wands (Arcus Arcanum)

Your hand upon mine

Concentrating energy

Creatively joined

I turned 50 back in July.  I have to say it’s been more of a shock than I expected.  I figured all the hype about becoming a Crone or 50 being a big transition age was just that – hype.  Once again I have been proven wrong.

The biggest shock I had upon turning 50 is the realization that I have somehow manage to shed almost 30+ years of civilizing.  I joke that the women in my family don’t domesticate well but it’s kind of true.  None of us has ever been a “traditional” female.  Quite possibly because most of us have had the unluck to marry men who have proven to be abysmal partners for one reason or other.  Clearly this is some type of familial pattern; a cycle that needs to be addressed and changed.  Anyway, I’ve gotten off point here.  The point is that apparently 50 year old me has a lot in common with 13 year old me.  Now that I no longer need to “dress for success” or anyone else’s approval, I have gone back to my favorite look – jeans, boots and plaid shirts.  How ironic that I loved this look long before Supernatural became popular.

I’ve also experienced a shift in attitude.  Not that I was ever shy about expressing my opinions but I did occasionally manage to tone things down depending upon the company.  Now I just don’t give a shit.  It’s as though that poor, weak, fragile filter that prevented me from being completely unrated was demolished, destroyed, damaged beyond repair.  Don’t misunderstand, I rarely intend to be insulting, rude or obnoxious but somehow I’m sure I come off that way when my mouth gets ahead of my brain.  At the same time I realize this is the result of not having to worry that I’ll offend someone who good opinion I might need later on.  The truth is I am a lousy diplomat.

For many years I felt as though I identified most with the energies of the Queen of Swords and Queen of Wands.  Now I realize that Queen of Swords persona was exactly that – a mask I donned when the occasion called for it.  Now I fully embrace my Queen of Wands energy but it means that sometimes I bash people into submission (or as my mother likes to say, I use “truth” as a weapon).  What I have also discovered is my connection to the Queen of Pentacles.  I can be a caregiver.  I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not my favorite role but when I have to make a choice between doing what might be sensible and/or more convenient or doing what I believe is right, then I’m willing and able to make sacrifices.

 

So, turning 50 has proven to be quite a mind-blowing experience all around.  I’ve realized that I don’t need things to be happy (in fact, much to my shock, I’ve realized too many things just makes me feel overwhelmed).  I’ve learned that I don’t want to bend to the wills of others.  I want to run my own life and follow my own passions.  I’ve learned that I’m tired of letting the perfect get in the way of the good.  I’m sure there are lots more things I’ve learned but this was a good starting point.

Just to make it interesting for any readers out there I decided to ask the Tarot what message I can offer to any others going through a similar experience.  I drew the Page of Swords from the Tarot of the Secret Forest.  At first I thought the youth was playing a cello or similar instrument but looking closer I realized he is holding a sword and shield.  The minute I saw this card I heard the phrase “relearn your own mind; stay true to your inner music”.  I’m interpreting this to mean that turning 50 gives us a chance to reconnect to who we really are without the obligations of motherhood, career, marriage and societal expectations.  We’ve been able to moved beyond all that and now we can pick up our instruments and learn how to dance and sing our true songs, our soul songs, again.
 

Readers’ Studio 2017 Wrap-up

So, it’s been almost a week since I returned from the fun-filled, eye-opening, networking event that is Readers Studio. As usual, there were some amazing moments and some sad moments, some silly moments and some profound moments.

I attended the Tarot & Psychology pre-conference this year. The presenters were Jayni Bloch, Katrina Wynne and Elinor Greenberg (Jenny Suzumoto was originally scheduled but became ill and could not attend). The sessions ranged from connecting Archetypal Portals (similar to the concept of chakras) to Trump Cards to Process Work and Dreamtime to Gestalt techniques and using Tarot for relationship work. I realized after attending several of the Tarot & Psychology pre-conferences that while I enjoy the workshops, they don’t always address what I would like covered. I usually do find useful tips & techniques in these workshops but I’ve realized that what I really want is techniques for crisis intervention (if needed) and practices that are more in line with life coaching than counseling. The truth is that if I had wanted to become a therapist I would have pursued my doctorate in counseling or psychology.

The main event of Readers Studio was three workshops – one led by Kooch & Victor Daniels that incorporated working with Tarot and chakras, one facilitated by Mitchell Osborn and one led by Ferol Humphrey. It can be very difficult to explain what one gets from these workshops so I’ll just provide a brief summary of my takeaway: the Daniels are very knowledgeable and have some interesting techniques to share; Mitchell Osborn is just awesome and Ferol Humphrey is a firecracker. Useful tips and techniques were taken away from all these sessions. The best part of the workshops for me was the foundation reading. My partner (the brilliant and dynamic Heatherleigh Navarre) was insightful and extremely helpful. I only hope I proved to be the same for her.

Now for the best parts of Readers Studio – the in-between stuff. One of my favorite moments was while I offered to help Joanna Powell Colbert set up her vendor table. She was already finished but as I looked over her art I felt drawn to purchase something. It was a very difficult choice between her Gaian Strength icon and her Elder of Fire icon done using an encaustic technique (I honestly have no idea what that entails but they were both beautiful). I ultimately chose the Strength icon because I love the image and the prayer included. I may still add the Elder of Fire to my collection. I’ve always found that image very powerful and moving.

My next vendor purchase was at Rachel Pollack’s table. I am inveterate collector/fan of Rachel’s necklaces. As soon as I saw her Sun necklace made of translucent Chinese amber I had to buy it. It looked like captured sunshine. As I was chatting with Rachel (I really don’t get to see her enough) she gave me a lovely necklace she made using the Samulet from Supernatural. The only thing I might be a bigger fan of than Rachel necklaces is that show. The acting skills of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester have kept me watching loyally for 12 seasons, even this one (which in my opinion has been mournfully disappointing). Rachel share my appreciation for this show and noticed my Samulet necklace last year (nothing special just the Samulet on a leather cord). She is such a generous and kind woman that she made me a spectacular version on a lovely Rachel necklace. It absolutely made my weekend. I think I actually glowed while showing it off to people. I wandered back towards Rachel’s table a few more times over the course the Readers Studio and her Lovers necklace kept catching my eye. The pendant was a reproduction of an ancient Greek coin with Aphrodite on it and a necklace with pink chalcedony and citrine beads. It was lovely, so of course I had to buy that too. What can I say – I’m addicted to Rachel necklaces.

I continued to roam vendor tables and found myself drawn to Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand. Despite my resolution not to purchase any more Lenormand decks, I couldn’t resist this one. The watercolor painting behind the images just called to me and I had to have a copy. Next I roamed by Patrick Valenza‘s table. I’m a long time fan of his Deviant Moon Tarot and found myself drawn to his latest deck – Trionfi della Luna. It’s a Deviant Moon take on Marseilles style decks. I tried to resist but his darkly quirky art just appeals to me and I added the Italian version of this deck to my collection. My final stop was at Rachel Paul’s table. I am a huge fan of her Dark Carnival and Sacred Bridges decks so it was great to catch up with her again. While looking at her wares a gorgeous necklace caught my eye – it had a RWS Empress pendant and a necklace of sandalwood beads. Naturally I had to add it to the stash.

Once my contributions to supporting Tarot artists were complete, I spent the rest of the event socializing and catching up. Diane Wilkes managed to make it up for the Tarot & Psych conference so we got to spend a bit of time together but not as much as either of us would have liked. I also got to see the lovely Sasha Graham for a few brief moments. My roommate this year was Gail Woods and I had a great time rooming with her. We both share an appreciation for tea and quiet time so there was some quiet bonding time. I made a few new friends – Mitchell Osborne, Al Jaurez and Bev Frable and reconnected with some old ones – Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells, Sally Rose Robinson, Jaymi Elford, Heatherleigh Navarre, Theresa Reed and Hilary Haggerty (who I didn’t recognize for almost a whole day because she is blonde now)

One of the things I realized this Readers Studio is that even when I don’t especially enjoy the workshop (and believe me I’ve been to all Readers Studios and there was only one workshop I walked out of ) I always take something new or interesting away from them. I’ve learned that whether one appreciates a workshop is very subjective. Certain presentation styles that I enjoy do not work for others and vice versa. Sometimes a topic might be very interesting but not something I like. Sometimes presenters have a lot of knowledge and information but just are not effective at presenting it others. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of courage to get up on the main stage and put yourself out there and anyone who has ever presented at a Readers Studio has my admiration for doing so.

One of the other takeaways I got from this Readers Studio is that whether or not I find the workshops especially useful, it’s the camaraderie, the in-between stuff and the bonding that keeps me coming back. Some of my favorite memories of this Readers Studio are:
Getting a beautiful Samulet Rachel Pollack necklace
Laughing myself sick during the banquet while Sally Rose shows me highly inappropriate toys on her cell phone
Singing “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles with James Wells and Ellen-Mary O’Brien and then clucking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Continuing to cluck various songs during the last goodie giveaway and certificate ceremony including a confusing moment when I thought I was clucking Pomp and Circumstance but instead was clucking Hail to the Chief
Winning a free 30 minute reading with Mitchell Osborn
The banquet show – which included some amazing performances by V and Jaymi. I’m impressed by V’s mastery of the hula hoop and Jaymi’s control of those light balls on cords.
Watching James Wells laugh as he watched Betty White’s “Muffin” skit on SNL
The absolutely wonderful and welcoming staff of the LaGuardia Marriott
Having Kooch Daniels come up to me and casually mention that I had been a witch in many past lifetimes.

I was very sorry to learn that this will be the last year at the LaGuardia Marriott. Apparently they’ve made some management changes and will be doing renovations so The Tarot School will need to find a new venue. I hope that happens soon because I’m already impatient to return to this marvelous event. If you can ever make it to a Readers Studio, I highly recommend you do so. If not, try to find a Tarot event in your immediate area, believe me the sense of connection and finding your tribe is more than worth the time, effort and cost.

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

 

The Book says: Transformation; bringing matters to resolution; releasing or forgiving; freedom to act with full power or resources; a new lease of life; recovery of essential focus.
Reversed: Denial of imminent change; inability to admit faults or allow changes; procrastination; reproach for wasted opportunities; stubborn self-justification; little chance of cure; failure to focus.

TarotHunter’s Theories: Traditionally the Gundestrup Cauldron is connected to transformation and rebirth. Legends connect the Gundestrup Cauldron with reviving warriors killed in battle. But when they come back they are mute; unable to describe this experience to anyone. One of the panels on the Cauldron shows a large figure, possibly a deity, shoving warriors into the Cauldron. They emerge beneath the Cauldron, alive but changed. The three spirits and the elder sprig are connected with healing and renewal. These images suggest that sometimes we need to be forced into making changes but they will ultimately prove healing and transformative. The experience will allow us to release the burdens of the past and move forward into a future that remains unwritten.

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