I’m being deliberately provocative with the title of this blog post. I am a female and, as such, I was a girl when I was younger. However, I was not raised to think of myself as “just a girl”. I decided to write this post after reading an article a woman wrote about gender expectations and American Gods. This got me to thinking, pondering if you will. Why have I never felt the weight of gender expectations? In fact, I clearly remember a very vehement argument I once had with a former friend about sexism and gender in the workplace. It’s entirely possible that I have been denied promotions or suffered a lower salary because I am female, but if that’s the case I was as oblivious to it as I was to the Stations of the Cross in my childhood church. I simply plowed forward and did my job. If my behaviors upset or offended supervisors because I didn’t act in a typically female way, I either addressed it head on, was oblivious to it, or ignored it.

I have never been told that I could not achieve something because I’m “a girl”. I was never discouraged from trying or accomplishing something because “girls don’t do that”. Sure my parents tried to civilize me and teach me to behave but they also encouraged me to be independent and strong-willed. They regularly gave me the “would you (fill in the blank) just because everyone else does?” speech. I was never encouraged to downplay my intelligence because boys don’t like smart girls. I was never told I was too aggressive for a girl and should tone it down (in fact my father preferred to teach me the correct way to throw a punch). When boys touched me in ways I did not want, I punched them or kicked them in the balls. My nickname as an adolescent was “the Nutcracker”. At the same time, I accepted that if I was going to hit others I might get hit back. I couldn’t use the “I’m a girl” excuse. I was fine with this. Looking back, I was truly blessed to have two parents who never, ever fell victim to gender roles and stereotypes – at least not when it came to me. I remember one Easter my grandmother bought my sister and me matching outfits – they were royal blue pantsuits (think polyester button-down shirts and pants) with T-shirts that proclaimed “Anything boys can do, girls can do better” and a graphic of a girl in a baseball outfit getting ready to swing her bat. We LOVED those shirts and proudly wore them every chance we got. In fact, that saying became our unofficial motto throughout childhood.

I was also influenced by Greco-Roman and Norse mythology as a child. I identified with Athena, the wise virgin who owed nothing to a man (okay, I’m oversimplifying because that’s what I believed as a child). I loved Freya who was the leader of the Valkyries and free to sleep with whom she chose, even if they were dwarves. It wasn’t just independent female goddesses that appealed to me – they had to have a fierceness to them, a martial aspect as well. I loved goddesses who bowed down to no man or god. As I grew older and learned about Irish goddesses I felt a strong connection to many of them too. Once again, fierce feminine figures who were not bound to a male.

Looking back, I am also a product of my generation. I grew up in the 70s and clearly remember the hoopla that following the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. I remember how excited I was when Charlie’s Angels premiered! Yes, in retrospect it was a T&A show but as a young girl, all I saw were these tough, independent women who took on bad guys every week and triumphed. I was a fan of both Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, Isis, and Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. I read Wonder Woman and Supergirl comic books. I remember being vaguely disappointed when the ERA was defeated. I didn’t fully understand what it was or why I wanted it but I knew that its failure was not a good thing for me. I remember having an epiphany during a religious class in Catholic high school when our teacher while conducting a cakes & wine ritual, informed us that ancient frescoes showed that women administered the sacraments in the early Christian church. I was floored! It never occurred to me that women could serve as priests. I often think that this was the pivotal moment that ultimately led me to pursue Paganism.

So, it occurs to me that if we don’t want to raise our daughters to be “just girls” we need to reinforce that message. We need to support them when they show interest in traditionally “ungirly” things or behave in non-girly ways. We also need to let them know that if they choose to pursue traditionally feminine pursuits, that is wonderful too. It’s so easy to denigrate traditional feminine pursuits, interests, and behaviors but that’s just as damaging as only allowing them to pursue these things. Some girls want to be fairy princesses and some want to be G.I. Joe. Some want to play with dolls and some want to play with toy guns. Some will do both and all of that is great and should be encouraged. For that matter, we should use the same approach with boys. I guess the important thing is to focus on what the child wants and needs and make sure to nurture and support them. Sounds easy and yet somehow we make it so complicated.

The Hermit – After having our world turned upside down we might find ourselves in need of a retreat; to regroup. Instead of considering what we need to do to conquer the world, we ponder what will allow us to fulfill ourselves. We are still searching the darkness and trying to forge our own path through the darkness but now it’s the darkness within ourselves. We’re working towards finding truths in our soul that will allow us to lead a more fulfilling life moving ahead.

Strength reminds us that enacting these types of changes in our lives requires fortitude and inner strength; the need to stick with it especially when the going gets rough. This card reminds me of people who, after some dramatic shift in their career or life, manage to pick themselves back up and move forward again. It symbolizes those who find the inner fortitude to add a second act to their lives. The divorced woman who finds her passion in life again. The middle-aged man who discovers that he still has a lot to offer. Instead of letting themselves become defeated and miserable, they pull themselves up and find new meaning in their lives. They fight to find fulfillment and satisfaction.

The Chariot is our mode of transportation to get to that new place of fulfillment and satisfaction. Once we’ve made the decision and set the intention to find new meaning in our lives in Strength, we need to find the way to make it happen. We need to pick up the reins, grab the steering wheel and drive ourselves towards our new destination. We need to determine what route will serve us best and what speed we intend to travel. Do we want to take our time and enjoy some rest stops or do we want to get there as fast as we can? Either way, the decision and the choices are all on us. Do we believe this part of our lives has been fated? Is it our destiny to make this journey? Only you can decide that for yourself.

The Lovers reflect all the choices that still remain in our journey through life. I often like to view fate or destiny as a series of points on a map that we must experience – how we get there and how long the journey takes is up to us. I like to think it’s the combination of destined experiences and personal preferences that are reflected by the two different horses in this card. How & where we choose to steer them is on us.

The Hierophant shows us as we step into our role as mentors, lore keepers, historians. We have now reached a point in our lives when we can teach and guide others. We can show them the options available to them; share our stories. We can help open their eyes to the traditions and history that preceded them and allow them to determine who they might wish to incorporate this knowledge and wisdom into their own lives.

The Emperor is our journey to self-sovereignty. We no longer need to build an external empire, instead, we need to feel as though we are finally in charge of our own lives. We are the masters of our fate; the lords of all we survey. We no longer see success as an external measure but rather an internal one of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s not about money and possessions, it’s about feelings of accomplishment and pride.

The Empress is when we finally learn how to nurture and embrace our true selves. We finally allow ourselves to explore our internal creative energy. Instead of feeling the need to focus on external objects or people, we aim it at ourselves. We tend and care for our own secret gardens and learn to feed our inner needs and desires. It doesn’t make us selfish but rather self-centered in the best possible way. Tending to ourselves allows us to replenish our resources and be there for others when the need arises.

The High Priestess guards the veil behind her. It is not something she parts lightly because one what awaits behind it is revealed, it can never be unknown again. When she pulls it aside we realize that what it hides is our true selves. We are finally ready to learn, accept and embrace who we truly are and were meant to be. We realize that we need to do things for ourselves; to nurture our souls not because they meet someone else’s need. In my experience, when the veil parted I was faced with my feral thirteen year old self – the part of me I’d tried (and failed) to civilize over the years. I was able to reconnect with that energy and unleash her into my life today. It was quite an amazing experience.

The Magician allows us to realize that (much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz), the power to make things happen in our lives was in our hands the entire time. We are not dependent upon others to grant us power; we merely need to accept and grasp it. We often hear people talk about helping to empower others but the truth is we cannot do that. We can only help them understand that the power lies within them and only they can use it. That is what The Magician shows us at this point in our journey. Perhaps it’s near the end of the road but the message is no less valuable.

The Fool is our final stop. This is when we embrace all our foolish qualities and trust in the world again as we prepare to take that leap and move beyond this life into something new and unexpected. We are still leaping into the unknown but now all our knowledge and wisdom has combined to make us realize that we truly know nothing and the journey is always about the experiences and the learning. We have to believe that what awaits beyond is something new and exciting. Perhaps this is why so many of us believe in an afterlife – we want to believe we are leaping into something,  not just nothingness.

Speaking with the Dead

I had a very strange experience last week. I’m not sure why I should be so surprised by it but I was. I had arranged for a Tarot reading with the wonderfully talented Mitchell Osborn. My reading with Mitchell was very different to they type of Tarot reading I’m used to giving and receiving. His style reminded me of a session with John Edwards. It was more as if he was channeling messages from the spirit world than interpreting cards.

Over the course of our reading, Mitchell described receiving messages pertaining to my hubby from someone he felt might be associated with show business or a comedian. Now my hubby had an uncle who worked as a teamster in the film industry but that didn’t feel right. Mitchell once again said he was getting a strong feeling of a comedian. I mentioned my brother Tom who has been dead since 1986 but was well know in my family as a clown. The 31st anniversary of his death was two days after the reading. As soon as I mentioned him Mitchell almost shouted “Yes!” I explained that Tom had died when he was 15 but gave no more details. I just shared how Tom had been a practical joker and one statement that Mitchell had offered from the spirit world sounded exactly like something Tom would have said.

For the rest of the reading, Mitchell gave me messages from Tom that I didn’t even know I needed to hear. He explained that Tom was showing him his head hitting the ground as a way to explain that he died instantly and felt no pain. What I did not know at this point is that my brother’s skull had been fractured in seven places by the attack on him. Mitchell also shared that Tom was showing his spirit standing next to his body in shock – he didn’t realize he was dead, and that he stared at his attacker wondering what had made him so angry and full of pain. This sounds so much like something Tom would think that it brought tears to my eyes. Any skepticism I felt immediately drained away.

A few things Mitchell mentioned didn’t make any sense at the time. He asked if my brother ever drove a car or liked cars because he kept seeing a red Mustang. Now, I assume my brother Tom like cars as much as any teen boy but living in NYC meant very few people we knew owned cars. My hubby was one of the few and although Tom like riding in them he showed no special attachment to them. Of course, the odds are that the longer he spent with my hubby the more likely that would change. Mitchell also asked if Tom had a girlfriend. I explained that as far as I knew he didn’t, at least not when he was killed. Mitchell said he kept mentioning “the girls that wasn’t included” but I had no idea who that might be. Once our reading concluded I immediately called my mother and shared that portion with her. We both cried at the confirmation that Tom hadn’t suffered. I think we’ve carried that burden for 31 years and never realized how heavy it was.

Now here comes the part where I got messages from Tom. I kept thinking about the “girl who wasn’t included”. It bothered me. So as I laid in bed thinking things over it hit me – Tom meant my sister-in-law Tracey who had died last year. She wasn’t included because she was not yet part of our family when Tom was killed. I became convinced that was who Tom meant. I believe he was trying to let us know he was watching over Tracey in the afterlife. I mentioned this to my family and got non-committal responses. They didn’t want to disagree but didn’t really agree either. So I went to my default divination tool, my Tarot deck, and simply asked Tom for clarification. I asked, “Who was the girl who wasn’t included?” I drew Death. That seemed pretty clear to me but I wanted additional confirmation. So I asked Tom “I want to be sure, we’re talking about Tracey, right?” I drew The Hierophant upright. This is significant because I indicated that an upright card would be a positive response and The Hierophant is my birth card. So Tom was clearly saying “Yes, you are right”. I once again shared this with my family and we all agreed this was Tom’s way of reassuring us. Even my brother Billy (Tracey’s husband) said he felt a little better after receiving that message.

To add even more layers to this, I began thinking about the car connection. Now, as I mentioned, Tom certainly enjoyed spending time around my hubby’s cars but wasn’t a “car guy” per se. Then I remembered something. Tom was scheduled to start high school the September. The high school was called Automotive High School! Then, while driving up from NYC, my hubby passed a spot where he has noticed people place cars that are for sale. This time as he passed by he saw a red Mustang! We took that as another sign Tom was around and wanted us to know it.

This was a very powerful and mind-altering experience for me. I’ve always wanted to believe that we can communicate with loved ones who have passed on but I’ve also always been skeptical. This has definitely eradicated that. It occurs to me that perhaps our loved ones on the other side are often trying to communicate with us but we don’t pay enough attention or understand the signs and messages. Going forward I am definitely planning to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to future signs. I already know my father is good at finding us parking spots when none seem available so simply being more aware would probably help this process.

Have you ever considered that perhaps our journey through life is better reflected in a reverse journey through the Major Arcana? I know we are often shown the Fool’s journey from innocence and naiveté through understanding and wisdom but what if we can acquire those same qualities and experiences by journeying through the Major Arcana from The World to The Fool?

I’ll admit this is not a fully fleshed out theory but one day while looking at the cards it occurred to me that The World could reflect our soul’s experience prior to birth; it’s existence wherever souls go when not inhabiting a body. It is perfect, fully integrated and surrounded by the divine. Judgment is the birth itself – our emergence through a dark passage into the light. The Sun is our infancy and early childhood – when we are the center of the universe and everything we say or do is amazing and spectacular. Then we get a bit older and learn that we cannot stay the center of the universe. Perhaps more children come along or our parents need to return to work and daily reality. We yearn for the moon – that time when everything stopped for us, but that is no longer possible. The Stars are the hope we cling to as we get a bit older; as we realize that mommy does not exist just to satisfy our every whim. We also learn about school. Depending upon whether we have older siblings or friends who enjoy school we may feel existing about this upcoming adventure. We’re frightened but excited too. Then we begin school and have a Tower moment. Our reality crashes down around our feet. Not only is school not the fun experience we anticipate, but we are one of many children in the room. We do not receive the teacher’s undivided attention. We don’t get to do or play with everything we desire. We decide we hate school and cling even tighter to our parents. Like The Devil, we want to be chained to them so we feel safe and secure. We believe this will allow us to remain the center of their attention but in reality we risk becoming a burden.

When we reach Temperance we are starting to learn there is a balance, a midpoint, a blending of our needs and the needs of others. We learn ways to meet our own needs while accepting their as well. We realize our classmates are almost as important as we are; that our parents have other areas of focus. We struggle to find the way to incorporate our need to be individuals with our need to be part of a group or family. We learn there is a give and take to this dance – if we want others to satisfy our needs then we must help satisfy theirs too.

Death, well Death is almost surprisingly easy (at least to my mind). In this context, Death is the upheaval of graduating from one class to the next. Each year brings a minor death for us – we’ve finally figured out how this stuff all works. We know the teacher and have established connections with peers (hopefully) and now we have to start all over again. Graduation from junior high to high school and high school to college is even more traumatic. We go from “ruling the school”, being the big people on campus to peon. Everything we knew is now gone and we must find our way anew. I don’t know about anyone reading this but I must say the first day of high school, first day at a new school and my first day at college were all traumatic and devastating in different ways.

By the time we’ve managed to finish our academic career (if indeed we ever do), we move on to The Hanged Man. Oh, isn’t this fun?!! We finally get the hang of school, it may be stressful and somewhat overwhelming but there are clear rules and instructions along the way, and now we’re thrown into the “real world”. We have no idea what the rules are or what our role is. We’ve been completely turned on our heads and are now seeing things through a different lens. We have no safety net anymore. If we’re truly adults then we need to figure out how to do this on our own and not rely on family to bail us out. We may indeed find ourselves turned all around but sometimes that’s the only way to see a new path or find a new life lesson. I know once I completed my masters in forensic psychology I knew that I had no desire to work in the criminal justice field. My degree was useless (or so I thought). By looking at things from a different perspective I realized I could put those same skills to use in a population that might have a propensity towards interactions with the criminal justice system but were not incarcerated – “at risk” youth. So I found a job as a recreation therapist in a recreation center in the “inner city” (geez, I hate these buzz words so much!) My point is that I was able to put my degree and skill to use in a totally unexpected way and that gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Had I not looked at things from a completely different perspective and allowed myself the time and patience to explore options, I might have ended up taking a job in a field to which I was not well suited.

Justice represents when we finally feel that we’ve regained our balance. We’ve found the way to balance our needs for income and a job and a social life, with our desire to achieve, to be “somebody”. We believe we’ve taken the right steps on that road and now feel more confident that things are going to flow our way. We’ve made the sacrifices and now it’s time for us to receive our rewards. As long as we perceive those scales as balanced, we’re content. We feel that we’ve matured and can now view things from a less emotional, more rational and logical perspective. We’ve learned to weigh the pros and cons of our choices to reach an intelligent decision. We convince ourselves that we are doing the “right” thing, the just thing, the sensible, logical thing. Is that true?

Finally, at the halfway point in our journey we face the Wheel of Fortune. That fickle and every changing wheel that mocks our efforts and forces change upon us. Let’s consider it the quarter-life (it’s a thing, I swear) and mid-life crisis. It reflects that point in our journey where we realize that our path needs to dramatically shift. It’s when we start to question everything we’ve achieved in our lives and wonder if it was all worth it. It’s become immortalized in films such as The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. In fact it’s become something of a cliché because we often dismiss it as an excuse for middle-aged men to buy a new hot rod or hook up with some younger, sexier partner. Perhaps those things are distractions from the real issue – feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled by where we are in our lives. Perhaps we can no longer ignore that we’re unhappy with the choices we’ve made; the things we’ve sacrificed. This may be when parents and spouses realize their career has consumed them and they’ve lost touch with their loved ones. The difference between this experience and the Tower is that we are more mature and thoughtful (usually) and can steer the course of our journey. We can lay in a new path and right what we feel is wrong without completely destroying all that went before. We also have the ability to understand that even though we may be feeling pretty down right now, that can and will eventually shift. That is the nature of life and of our journey.

I’m going to stop here for now. I’ll continue next week. I hope you found this interesting or insightful or it at least made you pause for a moment and think about it.

Bohemian Gothic DevilBohemian Gothic 6 of Cups

The other day I pulled these two cards as my cards of the day. I found myself looking at them from a different perspective because of past readings and exercises. It suddenly struck me that my antipathy for change has an almost addictive quality to it. I’m addicted to the past because of the memories (both real and rose-colored) I have. The “good old day” were never always good but time has washed them in a patina of gold and rose.

The truth is who the hell wants to sit around and remember lousy times? Who wants to dredge up unhappy, painful memories? That’s what therapy is for not reminiscing. Unfortunately reminiscing can also become problematic when it becomes a crutch, an addictive behavior that allows us to avoid facing current realities. Of course this also creates problems down the road because if I’m so focused on the past then I ignore the present and in the future will have fewer good memories from which to reminisce. It’s a vicious cycle! It’s like plowing and sowing seeds in the same field because they’ve proven fertile in the past but not giving them time to rest and regenerate. Eventually your harvest will become smaller and smaller before the field becomes barren. I don’t want my life to become barren.

So, how can I combat this? It’s not easy simply because I am in a nice rut and feel so little motivation to get out of it. However I have noticed that taking the time to consider the things I’m grateful for in my life can help. I did keep a gratitude journal at one point but it just became one more thing I had to do so I let it lapse. However that doesn’t mean I can’t take a few minutes every day and focus on areas of my life that are good. My life doesn’t suck. It may have sucky moments but overall it truly does not suck. What I need to do is find ways to keep this uppermost in my mind, especially when things really do seem pretty sucky.

Hobbies, friends, books and escapist television programming all help but at the end of the day it’s my choice, my decision to focus on the positive. I know it’s not easy because I seem to go through this cycle every few months but I like to think I’m getting closer to shortening my “life sucks” cycles. Coloring, Tarot cards and music help me de-stress too and that definitely helps elevate my spirits. I know I can do it, I just have to keep trying and not give up. I will not be defeated even by me and my inner demons and self-doubts and moments of wallowing in self-pity. I’m stronger than that. I just need to remind myself of this fact sometimes.

When Othala is reversed

I’ve been working with the runes lately to try to gain a deeper, more personal understanding of them (so don’t have to keep referring to the books). In the past week I’ve drawn Othala reversed three times. The first time it was paired with Perthro so I focused on how the lots cast at one’s birth, one’s orlog, worked with ancestral inheritance and home. The second two times Othala reversed was paired with Elhaz/Algiz. This puzzled me because clearly I wasn’t understanding how their energy worked together. Then as I was watching a movie it clicked – in this instance Othala reversed represents having an unsafe, dysfunctional home life and upbringing. Elhaz is often described as representing self-protection, shielding or sheltering oneself. That’s when it clicked! Elhaz and Othala reversed were telling me that when one’s childhood or home life felt unsafe then the need to feel protected and shielded grow even stronger.

In my own life I’ve seen this come into play quite clearly. My parents might have loved me but for a variety of reasons my childhood left me feeling unsafe and unprotected. This has resulted in the adult me creating very strict rules and boundaries for myself. I cannot abide hypocrisy or lying. If I find that a friend has lied about something (even if it wasn’t to me) it makes me question their integrity. For many years I viewed marital infidelity as the ultimate betrayal and tended to avoid anyone I knew who had cheated on a long-term partner (I’ve managed to become less judgmental about this but not much). I find it very difficult to separate unethical behavior from my feelings and judgments about someone. For example, if I learn that a Hollywood actor, director, etc. has engaged in a behavior that I find unethical (such as Elia Kazan betraying his friends and colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee), I cannot enjoy their work anymore. I will not knowingly watch an Elia Kazan movie because I find his behavior in that instance so reprehensible that I believe he deserves to be stripped of any accolades he has received. I cannot separate his work from his behavior. I have the same problem with Roman Polanski, although the woman he raped as a teen has forgiven him.

I believe I develop such an unyielding approach to these matters because ethics and morals were so malleable and porous in my childhood. I felt so unprotected and at-risk (Othala reversed) that I developed a personal security that would allow me to feel a measure of security and protection (Elhaz). Realizing how this trait developed can now enable me to relax it a bit. I’m no longer that at-risk child. I don’t need such strongly defended shield walls anymore. I’m much better able to defend myself. Seeing this pattern will hopefully help me change it where necessary moving forward and allow me to recognize similar patterns in others. I may not be able to change this behavior in others (in fact there are certainly going to be occasions where it would be dangerous to do so) but at least it helps me understand what type of situation I’m addressing.

Our own mythic journeys

I was pondering stuff the other day (okay I had time on my hands and my brain was just rambling on) after thinking about some of the masks I wear and the burlesque act I can put on for company.  That made me think about how I see myself as the star of my own life.  Don’t we all see ourselves as the center of our own universe; the star of our own reality show?  I’ve seen a lot of books that focus on discovering our “mythic journey” but I realize that I stumbled across living mine quite by accident.

Even as a child I associated my experiences with myths and legends. I used to read Greek and Norse mythology the way some kids read Dr. Seuss (although I read him too). I connected on a deep level to Persephone and her tale of kidnapping, rape and eventually rise to become Queen of Hades. Oddly enough I never felt sorry for Demeter who was inconsolable as she sought her missing daughter. I always saw it as Persephone’s act of rebellion. In my mind she deliberately ate those pomegranate seeds to get away from her mother. Maybe she felt this was her chance at autonomy, independence and maturity. How often do we see parent-child relationships that are so co-dependant that they can only be separated by something like this? I fully understand the desire to get away from one’s parents and be independent and the ruler of your own life. It resonated with me on a deep level. Although I connect with and understand Athena too, Persephone still remains my favorite Greek goddess.
Celtic Wisdom Queen of BattleCeltic Wisdom Combat of Knowledge

When I discovered Irish mythology it was the Morrigan who claimed my heart. She was strong, determined, powerful and even a little scary. She didn’t take shit from anyone – not Cuchulainn, not the Daghda, not anyone. She’s fierce! I was drawn to Macha too. I know she’s often considered an aspect of the Morrigan but her individual tales are compelling and full of independent spirit and power. I mean she cursed an entire Irish province so the men would be struck by pains in the face of impending battle and be incapable of fighting for several days. How kickass is that?!! I honor and admire other Irish deities like Brighid and Airmid but my heart belongs to The Morrigan. She inhabits those dark places that so many prefer to avoid. I find myself drawn to and captured by those dark places. I may not want to inhabit them all the time but I know they exist and can embrace the insight and wisdom they offer.

There are moments when I envision my relationship with my husband as a slightly more committed & traditional variation of what the Morrigan and the Daghda share. In fact I believe my husband shares certain traits with both the Daghda and Thor. He enjoys his beer and food. He has quite a sense of humor and laughs at his own screw ups. He is usually fair minded and willing to help out the underdog. It’s also quite easy to underestimate his intelligence and see him are more brawn than brains.

I have no idea if this approach would help others. I suppose that’s for each individual to determine. However I realize that sometimes finding connections between myths and my own life helps put things in context. It helps to know I’m not the only person in the world dealing with these types of experiences; I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. Seeing it as part of a bigger picture comforts me. At the end of the day I suppose that’s the most beneficial aspect of this exercise for anyone.

Fear & Loathing in La TarotBroad

I am a huge fan of the TV show Supernatural (I might have mentioned this before) and while watching a recent episode it occurred to me that even after 11 years of taking on all matter of supernatural creatures (including angels and demons) and emerging victorious, the two main characters (the Winchester brothers) still see themselves as worthless. They willingly sacrifice themselves for the greater good because they truly believe their only value is in their ability to save people. It’s heart-breaking and tragic to watch them fight their inner demons and try to convince each other they have value and worth.

Of course as I watched it I realized that I have the same tendency (as do many others I know). We all seem to willing to believe the worst about ourselves; to see ourselves are petty, venal and rather pathetic. We incorporate all the criticism, self-doubt and negativity aimed at us by the world but neglect the positive traits we possess, the good we do for others and benefits we bring to those in our lives. Why? Why do we all seem so willing to wallow in a trough of self-loathing? I have no idea. I’m sure psychologist and healers have been trying to answer that question for decades if not centuries. Sometimes it seems to me that the more free time we have, the more ways we find to fill our minds with negative attitudes and self-loathing. The human capacity for self-doubt and self-hatred is mind blowing.

So, if I can’t tell you why we’re like this then why am I writing this post? Because I am determined to wage a battle to stop or at least reduce this behavior in my own life & mind. How? Well, I do not have any clear answers to that so I decided to ask the Tarot. Using Arnell Ando’s wonderful Transformational Tarot, I asked “How can I release the self-doubt, self-loathing and inner demons that populate my psyche?”

I drew the 6 of Swords R, 3 of Cups + 4 of Wands.

The 6 of Swords tells me no one else can save me, this is something I must do for myself. No knight in shining armor will sweep me up and carry me away. This is a only I can steer my way through.

The 3 of Cups tells me that friendship, camaraderie and joy will help in this endeavor. Finding emotional support and people who can serve as sounding boards when things get bad; caring people who can counteract those negative voices we all hear inside our own heads.

The 4 of Wands suggests that I need to find stable and exiting creative outlets and support networks. Just as knitters love to talk to others knitters, we may all find our creative juices enhanced by interacting with folks of a like mind. It also helps to have a support network to guide and advise us when something gets screwed up.

So it would seem that the key to overcoming and releasing all those self-doubts and self-loathing; to slaying those inner demons is accepting responsibility for yourself and then making sure you surround yourself with supporting nurturing people who appreciate you for who you are and who enhance and appreciate your creative endeavors rather than tearing them down. We also need to make sure that we offer this same support and appreciation to friends and loved ones. I speak from experience – “positive criticism” can often come across as an effort to shred someone’s confidence and to sound superior. No one likes a know-it-all (trust me on this, I know of what I speak). It sounds so simple and yet I know so many who still allow this energy into their lives and continue to behave this way towards others. My goal is to call myself on this behavior when I am exposed to it and when I subject others to it. (Did that come off sounding know-it-all-ish and superior? I hope not!)

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!

Oolong with Odin

I have recently begun re-acquainting myself with Runes. I have dabbled in them at various points in time. I know some of the basics of working with them but I want to explore them in more depth. I’ve begun connecting with the energy of the Rune aligned with each half-month (each Rune is assigned a two-week period over the course the year, in order). I have no idea who created this system but it seems a good place to start. I then pull another Rune each day to see what energies might impact me and how they connect to the energies of the Rune associated with the half-month. Based upon the message I get from the joined energies of the two Runes, I then draw two Tarot cards for further insights or clarification. So far it has worked  well. This process is allowing me to begin working with the Runes on a deeper level. However I kept feeling blocked; as though there was more to be gained but I could not access it. After pondering this for a while I realized that my problem is I was avoiding connecting with Odin, the Norse god of magic, runes, war and a plethora of other areas who also happens to rule the Aesir. That’s like learning to drive a car via computer simulation. You may grasp the concepts but you’ll be limited in true understanding.

I’ve been wary of working with Odin for a loooong time now. In the myths, he is often portrayed as quite the trickster. He has his own agenda and we may not fit with it the way one anticipated. I have always felt more drawn to Thor and Tyr for their more plain-spoken and honorable approach to matters. For the most part Thor is not very straight-forward and Tyr’s word is his bond. Odin take a more diplomatic approach to matters in that he doesn’t lie but may not reveal the full truth either. His connection to Loki has also worries me a bit. I can understand the benefits Loki brought to Asgard but his tricksy, sometimes malevolent nature does not appeal to me. All that has become a moot point because I realize that if I want to truly understand the Runes then I need to work with Odin.

Legacy of the Divine 9 of Coins

So yesterday I sat down and had a chat with Odin. I asked if he would find a daily cuppa tea an acceptable offering for picking his brain. In response I drew the 9 of Coins (being more familiar with Tarot I used them for this conversation) which I’m taking as a resounding yes! So I made up each a cuppa oolong tea (Flower of Asia to be exact) and pulled a Rune – Othala, to go along with the Rune of the half-month Eihwaz. I then proceeded to ask Odin questions about the connections between these two Runes and how their energies work together and complement each other. It was a very interesting process. After each question I would pull a Tarot card. If I didn’t understand the response I could pull another card for additional insight but that didn’t happen. Each response I got from Odin made complete sense to me. It was exhilarating! I’m very excited to see where this journey will lead me. For now I’m taking baby steps but very much like a toddler I’m feeling quite a sense of accomplishment already.

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