Incurred obligations & reciprocity

Gebo

Today as part of my personal rune studies I was considering the rune Gebo/Gyfu. This rune represents gifts given and obligations incurred. Among other things, it can symbolize the reciprocal nature of gifts. It seems the Norse believed that a gift calls for a gift. So if one is given a gift or done a favor then you are expected to gift something of similar value or return the favor in some way (similar to the Northwest Native peoples tradition of potlatch). Thinking about the nature of reciprocity and gifts made me wonder about past gifts and how they obligate me as an adult.

I’m not referring exclusively to presents given for special occasions such as birthdays. I’m talking about other, sometimes more intangible, gifts. For example I had a teacher for third and fourth grade, Sister Esther, who made a huge impact on me. She forced to try harder as a student. I was (and still am) a lazy student. I do what I need to in order to pass the course. I regularly wait until the last minute to complete assignments (unless I’m working with partners). Luckily for me this behavior had little impact on my grades. Even when I half-assed it I received good grades. However Sister Esther refused to accept any half-assing from me. She would push me and prod me to dig deeper for answers. It’s as if she knew the I had a lazy streak and would be satisfied with doing just enough work to get by. As a result of Sister Esther’s prodding, I developed skills that allowed me to half-half-ass it. I developed note taking techniques and study techniques that allowed me to remember facts and information so that I didn’t have to study very hard in order to pass tests. I learned how to read reference papers with an eye towards ignoring extraneous and non-essential (to me anyway) data. As a results I am still able to wait until the last minute to complete assignments but they’re still well done.

Hidden Realm 6 of Pentacles

Another teacher who influenced me was a religion teacher I had in high school. His name was Mr. McCommiskey and I truly believe I made his life miserable. I had his religion in my freshman year and it was right after lunch. I was often sleepy and would nod off. To avoid nodding off I took to reading during class. This frustrated the poor man and he would regularly confiscate my books. He finally asked me why I continued to read during his class and I explained that reading kept me awake. If I wasn’t reading then I would fall asleep. As long as I wasn’t disrupting and participated in class discussions, he never bothered me about this again. I mention Mr. McCommiskey because despite our rocky moments, he taught me so much about spirituality and not accepting the “official” version of events. He was a liberation theologist (this was the early 1980s and as I look back I am truly amazed at how blessed I was by my Catholic high school education). He often pointed out facts left out of the official version of events such as that women used to officiate at early Christian masses. He once led us in replicating what an early Christian mass might have included, along with making unleavened honey oat cakes for us to try. He tried to enlighten our remarkably uninterested teenage minds to the hypocrisy and inequality in the world (he had spend a few years in El Salvador). I truly believe this man is one of the reasons my spiritual path has explored so many areas. When I met him again at a recent high school reunion I made a point to seek him out and than him. I think he might have been touched by my appreciation (even though I admitted I was no long Catholic).

Victorian Trade Card 6 of Pentacles

On a deeper and different level I thought about my parents and the gifts they gave me. Despite their dysfunction, my parents did give me the gift of life and as a result dramatically changed their own lives. They taught me to think for myself (which I’m sure they had many occasions to regret) and to fight for what I believed. They taught me that family is important (something I did not appreciate during my teen years) and should be defended. They taught me that no matter how difficult and challenging things become we shouldn’t give up. From my mother’s side of the family I learned that family doesn’t walk away when things get bad. I watched as my grandmother, her eldest brother and visiting siblings cared for their mother (my great-grandmother) who was senile and unable to care for herself. They all worked together to keep her home and cared for until she passed away. My maternal grandmother survived burying two husbands (the first when she was only about 18), her 6 month old son (also when she was 18) and raising her only daughter by herself. She refused to break. She might have bent under the weight of her responsibilities on occasion but she didn’t give up. She was stubborn and strong-willed and I adored her.

So how can I honor and reciprocate such intangible gifts? The best way I can see is paying it forward. I now tend my ailing mother-in-law because of the gift my grandmother and her family gave me about understanding family obligations and responsibilities. Did they struggle? Of course they did, but they didn’t give up. Even though I was able to thank both the teachers I mentioned that doesn’t mean I can’t pay those gifts forward too. I have nieces and nephews. By teaching them to question and seek answers I hope that I am gifting them with a lifelong curiosity that will pay back the teachers who gifted it to me. There are many more instances I could mention but I think the point has been made. In so many ways we are all blessed in our lives; we are given many tangible and intangible gifts. We should be sure not to take them for granted and to reciprocate in kind in whatever way possible, or at least that what I’m going to try.

Blankness and Joy

Have you ever felt completely blank; uninspired, uninteresting and unintelligible? I feel that way today. I want to write an amazing blog post that will explode minds, expand horizons and elevate consciousness. Instead I’m drawing a blank. This is one of the rare moments in my life when I have nothing to say, or at least nothing I’m willing to write on a public blog. So in desperation, I am going to turn to the Tarot and pull a card to inspire me. I drew the Page of Cups reversed!

Legacy of the Divine Page of Cups

My first reaction was “Oh great, a freakin’ court card!” Court cards can be something of a pain in the butt to interpret on occasion. Then I thought about it a bit more and laughed. I got the sense the Tarot was telling me to stop being such a crybaby and grow up! Of course you have things to write about, just look into your heart! So I did.

At first I was still drawing a blank. Then I realized there are a few things lurking around in there that I can share. I’ve been doing some work lately about determining my heart’s desire, my deepest, truest heart’s desire. Like a lot of folks, I’ve been acculturated to think that my heart’s desire rests in possessions, wealth or status. It doesn’t. For years I rode that horse and it finally died of exhaustion. My life experiences over the past six years have shown me that money may help relieve some stresses in life but it genuinely does not bring happiness.

Instead of yearning for things I cannot possess (especially right now), I’m looking deep within to learn more about myself and what truly makes me happy. For too long I allowed myself to be distracted or convinced myself that I wasn’t really interested in things that truly nurtured my soul. What the hell happened to me? The same thing that happens to so many of us – we think that growing up means giving up all the things we loved as children. Well I say to hell with that! It’s time for me to revisit those childhood things that brought me joy like coloring, writing poetry and talking with gods! I want to find new things that fill my heart with joy too like learning a new skill or refining an old one. I can do it! So can you! So what if people tell you to grow up, nothing says we have to listen. Let’s embrace that inner child everyone talks about so much. Let’s find ways to reconnect with that child-like sense of wonder and whimsy we had when we were young. Let’s play Kick the Can (for those of you who don’t get the connection, this was the title of a classic Twilight Zone episode)! Who knows what benefits we’ll uncover!

Dealing with The Dreads

Have you ever had a feeling of dread creep over you – non-specific and unfocused but powerful dread? For the last two weeks or so I’ve had this feeling. As the day goes on I feel it coalescing into a knot in my stomach. It just sits there throbbing and I have no idea why. I also had one of my zombie dreams the other night. I haven’t had one of them in a few years. The dreams are similar (I’m one of a group of zombie apocalypse survivors) with different scenarios. Usually what changes are the locales. What is the same is that we get overwhelmed by a horde of zombies and I’m the only one left. I am eventually buried under a pile of zombies and just then I wake up in a panic. I have no idea if I survive or die. It seems to be irrelevant. The terror leaves me breathless and shaky.

I pulled a few Tarot cards to get some insight into this feeling of dread. So I asked what was causing these feelings and drew (from the Gilded Tarot Royale} The Magician reversed.

Gilded Magician

I continued on asking how I can deal with them and drew the 8 of Cups and 4 of Pentacles.

Gilded 8 of CupsGilded 4 of Pentacles

Then I drew Death, The Tower reversed and 4 of Cups reversed.

Gilded DeathGilded TowerGilded 4 of Cups

The overall sense I got from these cards is that the dread comes from a feeling of powerlessness, lack of control and the fact that I can’t walk away. I’m stuck in this situation until something dramatic, earth-shaking and transformative finally happens. I don’t know if this is a personal upheaval or a more global one. I guess time will tell. In the meantime I need to figure out how to deal with these feelings.

I can feel my imagination running away with me. I keep thinking it’s a health issue. I’m convinced I have tumors or something but then my more logical, realistic side calms me down. Having a very practical friend who asked simple questions about certain things also clarified that (say it with me in an Ahnold voice now) “It’s not a tumor!” My same practical, Virgo to the nth degree friend then pointed out that I am of Irish descent and we do sometimes like to over-dramatize things. Immediately the pains subsided a bit.

So the only thing I can conclude is that perhaps it is some type of prophetic warning but it’s more likely stress related. It’s the holiday season – which even when I’m trying to be on my best behavior can be stress inducing, added to the responsibilities I’m handling making me anxious. That’s probably all it is. However, if something major & earth-shaking does go down, now I’ve documented my prophecy! (Kidding, just kidding).

Why did I share this? Not because I felt some need to unburden myself to the handful of folks who read this blog. It’s because there might be others out there who are stressed, anxious and feeling as though giant boulders have nested in their stomachs. Once you’ve eliminated any potential physical causes, consider that all you have to do to change these sensations is look at them objectively. Don’t let your fears overwhelm you. Talk to friends and loved ones or if they’re not available or helpful, try finding an online support network. I always find it fascinating when I realize that my mind can sometimes be my own worst enemy. I can easily allow my inner demons and fears and stresses to amp up into gigantic proportions and all it takes to cut them down to size is some practical words of encouragement and support. Don’t let whatever bats may reside in your belfry shift their base of operations to your stomach and nerves. It helps nothing and makes you miserable.

Blue Rose Temperance

Blue Rose Temperance

 

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: It is a new dawn for our Fool, who, reborn, emerges from liquid depths, hampered no longer by the mundane veil of the ego. Here is our magnificent butterfly, our magical bird, arising like a phoenix from liquid made into gold by the alchemy of fire and water, heat and cold, spiritual and material – the magical fusion of dreams, hopes and goals.

The Fool greets the new dawn with magnificent wings aglow with new color and with the full beauty of the soul exposed for the first time since before the journey began. The landscape is molten, fresh and new. Elemental. Untraveled. Untraveled because the last half of the Hero’s Journey is through the soul’s inner landscape, where no one else has trod. For each Fool travels along final pathways uniquely created especially for that singular and individual being.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: For some reason the imagery on this card reminds me of a 70s Christmas cartoon, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Two of the characters in it are the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser. Both stubbornly insist that their climate is the best and refuse to acknowledge anything positive about the other’s environs. Eventually they come to appreciate each other and realize that both are necessary and beneficial to the world.  That is what I see in this card – the cold and the hot unite to form a beautiful and diverse unity.

In the northeastern USA we also see this as the seasons cycle and change. The snow and chill of winter eventually gives way to the warmth and green of spring. But that does not mean one is better than the other. Without the water from the melting snows we might not have the water needed for the plants to sprout forth. At the same time the melting water can become a torrent and sweep away the weaker, less hardy plants just popping forth. And in the beginning of spring the warmth and light of the sun is a welcome break after the brittle cold of winter. But by the time Summer rolls around the heat can become oppressive and overwhelming, and we eagerly await the cool breezes of autumn.

Temperance reminds us that moderation and the middle path is what helps us survive the extremes life can throw our way. If we can learn to walk the path between these two extremes and not let ourselves become lost on either side, we can find the inner peace and healing offered by Temperance.

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 – 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.

Tsonokwa

 

Somehow, like a lot of people, I behave as though receiving help from others is a sign of weakness or failure. The current circumstances in my life have forced me to become better at accepting and asking for assistance from others. It’s still a struggle but one I think I’m starting to win. That isn’t my focus today. What has struck me when pondering this card and her message is that the one person I am lousy at giving to is myself. Oh don’t get me wrong – I can indulge myself with things like books, music and other possessions as fast as anyone else in our consumerist society. What I’m not good at giving to myself are the things I really need – time to myself, time to focus on my spirituality and health, and time to relax. It’s as though taking time off from my responsibilities is slacking. How the hell did this happen?

I used to be one of the more selfish people I knew. I had no responsibilities other than those to myself, my hubby and family, and maybe to my job. Not having kids left me a lot more free time than most to do whatever the hell I wanted. Of course I usually filled that free time with brain-draining TV binges and frequent nights out after work with co-workers. Mindless, enjoyable and ultimately unsatisfying pursuits to be sure. I was busy, sometimes frantic and stressed but I would have told you I was having fun. In retrospect I think I was trying to numb myself. What I needed wasn’t more things it was a sense of meaning and fulfillment in my life. That is what I was not giving to myself.

I have drawn Tsonokwa several times since working with the Dark Goddess Tarot. Clearly she is trying to give me a message which I haven’t been hearing – at least not clearly. Then yesterday I finally realized why she kept pushing me. Thanks to a wonderful mother who agreed to elder-sit for the in-laws, I was able to get away for a while and spend some time socializing with a friend. We didn’t do anything special – had lunch, chatted, shopped a bit, but I came home feeling rejuvenated and relaxed for the first time in a long time. It was wonderfully refreshing. Of course my mother was exhausted but she can head home and relax.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been free of this vise that squeezes me on a daily basis that I didn’t really how much pressure it was putting on me. I thought I was doing okay but in reality I was draining the battery almost beyond repair. It took Tsonokwa appearing to me several times before the message finally sank in. Next tie I won’t wait so long before finding activities to help relieve the pressure and help me revive and rejuvenate myself. It’s not taking anything away from my in-law’s and it’s giving me the break I need to let me come back with a more positive attitude. Otherwise we’re all miserable.

This made me wonder why we do this to ourselves. I am under no illusions that I am the only person who deprives herself this way. Nor am I a saint or martyr. I am a cranky, stressed out, caring, occasionally deranged person who wants to do what’s right for my in-laws. Somehow what is right for me never came into the equation. It’s as though I just don’t matter and that’s certainly not the way I have ever seen myself. Clearly this is an issue that requires more than a blog post to resolve. I just wanted to put it out there for others who find themselves in a similar boat. It’s important for all of us, but especially for caretakers, to realize that caring for ourselvs is just as important as caring for loved ones. Otherwise we wake up one day and realize our head is in a vice and about to pop like a pimple. Let’s have no more of that!  We deserve better for ourselves.

Transformational Tarot – Justice

Transformational Tarot Justice

Transformational Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Book Says: The need to weigh decisions, judgments, and find rational solutions. The need for a balanced mind. In this instance, reason and thought should override emotions, although sometimes justice needs to be tempered with compassion and empathy. It can also mean standing up for one’s rights and beliefs. Poetic justice. In it’s reverse this card can denote the seeker dealing with issues of injustice, bigotry, inequality, vengeance, or intolerance.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card deliberately evokes the Statue of Liberty and all she idealistically represents. She is the hope of peace, of freedom – to be whatever one desires and believe whatever one wants. This Justice is the dream we all share of having the opportunity to be treated equally regardless of race, religion or socio-economic level. And it is an ideal. We are bombarded on a daily basis by times when justice seems to have been thwarted or perverted but Justice can never be. Justice is the ideal, the goal. She holds out the dove as a sign of hope and promise – we can reach this goal if that is our desire. And as the people behind her represent, all people are offered the same opportunity.

The brilliant white sun is almost blinding in its radiance. A reminder that it has the ability to burn away all the falseness and illusions we surround ourselves with, and get down to the core of the matter. Justice forces us to look at ourselves and see if we are as just, compassionate and empathic as we like to claim. She forces us to face our inner prejudices and bring them out into the light of day so they can be revealed and rendered powerless. I would love to send this card to politicians right now and see if they can recognize the message.

Blue Rose – Justice

Blue Rose Justice

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Author says: The Fool stands, takes a deep breath and reaches one of the items he has carried for so long. Familiar, safe. He hates the very idea of letting any of them go. He turns toward the golden scale encased in its bubble of crystal. He gazes one more time at this treasure that he has carried for so long. And then he closes his eyes. In response, he feels the soft gossamer wings of the white butterfly settle upon his lids and discovers that he can see things with a clarity and “crystality” of vision he has never before experienced. It is enough…the crystal bubble yields to the pressure of his hand as he places his treasure upon the scale.

He watches the tilting of the scale, balancing his cargo again a counterweight manufactured out of his sense of spirituality, inner purpose and his assessment of the obstacles and ultimate goals that lie ahead. He reaches behind him and clasps his hand around the heavy crystal hilt of the Great Sword of Justice. The sword of discernment and discrimination…the sword which severs the wheat from the chaff. He sees what he wants to keep…and what he wants to let go. Taking careful aim, he raises that great sword high above his head. And brings it flashing down.

So, what does the Fool decide to keep and what does he cut away? What does it matter to you, oh fellow Fool? For such determinations and assessments are different for every Fool. Each of us is a unique being. At this time, it is wise to remember a few lines from the discussion of the High Priestess; namely, that there are many paths to spiritual evolution. As many as are needed.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This is the blind yet all-seeing eye of justice which looks at us, weighs our lives and uses the gold sword to cut away the dross that we need to release. She is pitiless and compassionate, harsh and loving. She knows that if we don’t impartially review our lives at this point and rid ourselves of what is useless, then we won’t be open to new growth and new opportunities. She also forces us to accept that we have now reached a point in our lives where can handle this type of process and learn from it.

The checkerboard pattern on the floor reminds me that now matter how we like to rationalize things, life is sometimes black and white, right and wrong. This is what Justice forces us to see and confront. As we get older it becomes easier to lose ourselves in shades of gray, justifying what we do and how we behave. We lose the clarity and pristineness of youth, the ability to see life in simplistic terms. Justice helps us regain connection with that simplicity but to do in more mature terms and learn how to apply it in our lives in a way that will help us move forward along our path.

Mansions of the Moon – Justice

Mansions of the Moon Justice

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

Traditional Meaning:  Balance, harmony and equilibrium; finding your path through clear-sightedness and being objective rather than relying on emotions and instinct

TarotBroad’s Buzz: The youth of the Bird Girl and her blindfold reminds me of the clearness of youth, that time when we see no gray – everything is black and white, right or wrong. There is no in-between. The scales are currently balanced but the rug with the Celtic knotwork pattern reminds us that things will get complicated soon enough. We manage to become lost in a maze where the line between right and wrong, black and white blur and become less distinct. Perhaps this is part of maturing – everything becomes less clear and simple. But the Bird Girl still watches and measures our motives and our behaviors. The sword nearby is available when she needs to cut through to the heart of the matter. The Sun and Moon in the sky are reminders that sometimes our motivations will stand up to the scrutiny of the harsh light of day and sometimes we prefer the gentler more forgiving light of the Moon.

But Justice is a reminder that either way we must face the ramifications of our choices and our decisions and that sometimes even the best of intentions do not excuse the actions we may take. And that sometimes our actions have repercussions we had not originally planned. The concept of Justice is not easy and it is not always fair. This is something we deal with daily when we watch court cases and see how the legal maneuvering of lawyers sometimes cause guilty people to go free or innocent people to go to jail. Is this just? Is it fair? If we work with someone we know is “evil” for a positive benefit is that just? If we take steps we believe are right but which have negative ramifications, is that just? There are no easy answers. And trying to figure our answers makes me yearn for the simple black and white approach of youth.

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