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.

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 Tower

16

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The creator says: The struggle within the Fool has triggered all three of those “laws that we have just discussed”. In that tiny flicker of a moment, the Fool has opened a space within himself. A space ready for change and open for filling. He has appealed to the Universe for help. That tiny flicker of internal light radiating outward like a beacon in this absolute darkness, is immediately detected by the Universe. And lastly, the indecision within himself and his own inability to decide his fate creates an imbalance . . . And still the Fool soars upward. Frightened yes, but there is a strange exhilaration, a reckless abandon which now pervades his senses. He sees something – an opening – a gateway that wasn’t there before. The opening that was created by the Universe to gain access to the Fool and snatch him away. As he speedily makes his way to that gateway, its aperture crackling with the same electrical energy that encases him, he sees something else. Something so beautiful, miraculous and magical that he is overcome with emotion and gladness – the tears springing from his eyes and rolling down his flushed face. And as our Fool explodes like a lightning bolt through that sizzling gateway, leaving the womb behind him, he weeps with joy and whispers a thank you to the Great Creator of the Universe who has interceded for him and allowed him to see what his eyes now behold.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This is one of the more intense and frightening Tower cards I’ve seen. Is the head exploding out of the top of the building? Is the hand opening it for him?  Or is trying to trap the man forever?  Either way it is a disturbing image but it reminds me that Tower experiences are painful and traumatic even if they are ultimately liberating.  We have climbed to the top of the building and now we have to make a choice – do we quietly walk back down the stairs, stay stuck at the top forever or break free and start over again?

The expression on the man’s face reminds me of that painful moment of self-awareness we sometimes experience; that flash of insight that makes us realize just how beneficial or pointless our life has been. It reminds me of the addict who, when sober, realizes just how much of a mess has been made of his/her life. Once we accept this realization, then we are faced with a challenging choice. We can either accept this self awareness, learn from the experience and make our lives better. Or we can try to avoid the truth, remain in the dark and subsume our pain and knowledge under something else – alcohol and drugs, work, false illusions.

This is an intense card but the Tower is an intense experience. What we get out of it and how we use this knowledge is entirely our choice.

Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz

Lammas NightLammas Night by Katherine Kurtz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This alternative history novel focuses on the myths and legends associated with the sacrificial Divine King combined with tales of magic workings being performed to protect Britain during World War II. It is an amazing read! In fact when I was done I researched just to be sure these weren’t real historical figures.The novel explores themes of sacrifice for the greaer good, witchcraft and the Old Religion and even reincarnation. The characters are well-written and come across as people you wish you could meet in reality – noble and flawed. I can’t recommend this book enough! It gave me chills.

View all my reviews

Celebrating Joy

Ghosts & Spirits Tarot Devil/Chains (Jacob Marley)

As the holiday spending season shifts into overdrive, I find myself once again almost devoid of “Christmas spirit”. Watching the chaos and greed at Black Friday events all over the country I am struck by how truly soulless this season has become for some people. Don’t misunderstand me, I like getting goodies as much as the next person, I’m just not willing to trample over folks to get them at a discount. This is truly nothing new. Even in the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street characters are heard lamenting about how commercial Christmas has become. Kris Kringle is seen as crazy and dangerous because he wants to help people. What does that say about us as a society? I suppose what it really says is that we’ve always been this way. The primary difference is that now the chaotic madness is televised.

Whimsical Queen of Swords

At one point I decided to make gifts for folks on my list – personalized colognes, shower gels etc. That went over like a lead balloon with most of them. I also got tired of receiving gifts that were clearly choices made from convenience with no real insight into what I might like. Once again, not that I wasn’t appreciative but if it’s the thought that counts then what does it say when no thought was behind the gift at all? It can really suck all the joy out of the holiday season. Add to that the friggin’ political correctness bug that has infected us all. Happy Holidays is really not the same as Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Yule. Aren’t we grown up enough that if someone wishes us a happy holiday that isn’t our own we can simply smile and thank them or thank them and politely correct them? That certainly seems easier and less stressful than stepping on eggshells while trying to wish someone a happy holiday season.

BoS As Above Yule

I think the biggest issue that can suck the joy out of the season for me is its lack of spiritual focus. I may not celebrate it anymore but Christmas is supposed to be about honoring the birth of Jesus Christ the Christian savior not deciding what kind of video game the kid wants. I would even consider a family focusing on what kinds of cookies to leave out for Santa to be something of a triumph compared to the current topics of conversation – where the best bargains can be found. As if that isn’t sad enough, many of the crazed mob charging stores on Black Friday are primarily buying stuff for themselves.

In addition to all the seasonal madness that can quickly sour one on this time of year, the family responsibilities that limit me can become especially onerous right about now. I can’t even stroll through a shopping center or along the main street of the village without it requiring some major planning beforehand. Who would have thought that simply viewing Christmas windows would become practically impossible. Sometimes this entire situation leaves me drowning in self-pity and depression at this time of year. On the positive side, at least I have a choice. I can focus on what makes me miserable and sad or I can focus on what makes me feel happy and fully of joy. It’s all about where I focus my intentions and attentions.

Whimsical Emperor

So I have decided that in order to increase the sense of wonder and joy I feel at this time of year, I plan to savor holiday movies – from classics to some of the rather cheesy newer entries. Even when I know they’re unrealistic, happy ending holiday movies make me cheery. The fact is that I do believe in Santa Claus and always have. I enjoy the feeling of Christmas cheer that sprinkles over many of us at this time of year. I have signed up for a 30 Days of Yule ecourse with Joanna Powell Colbert. I will focus on the happiness I feel when I give someone a gift they will truly enjoy (rather than just a gift card or money). I will lose myself in the happiness I feel simply looking at twinkling Christmas lights. Rather than sink into the dark morass so easily accessible at this time of year, I’ll try to steer my course towards shores filled with tidings of comfort and joy. Oh and I’ll drink tea – lots and lots of warming, comforting tea! I hope others find themselves willing and able to do the same to keep their joy and cheer levels up this Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa or whatever seasonally appropriate holiday they choose to celebrate (or even if you celebrate none at all).

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