Now that I’ve completed the Comparative Tarot essays for the Major Arcana, I’ve decided to try some different Tarot focused blog posts before attacking the Minors (if I decided to do that). I’ve been inspired by James Ricklef’s wonderful KnightHawk readings that focused on 3 card readings for fictional characters. I hope I can do this technique justice.

Three card reading for Mary Winchester of Supernatural

Dear Tarot Hunter,

I have recently reconnected with my two grown sons after a 30 + year absence. I have no idea how to communicate with them; how to interact with them. They don’t need me they way they did the last time I saw them. What would be my best way to repair this broken bond?

Mary, thank you so much for entrusting me to do a reading for you on such a sensitive topic. I cannot provide any insight into your sons’ thoughts or feelings but perhaps we can look at the current state of this relationship and see if it can be healed. I will pull three cards and see what the universe has to say.

The current state of this relationship? Page of Cup Rx – Your sons are still those broken-hearted boys devastated by the loss of their mother. You are a mother devastated at what you missed in your sons’ lives. All three of you are relative neophytes when it comes to expressing and dealing with your emotions. I get the sense that none of you are especially comfortable with introspection and examining your motivations.  This reluctance for addressing emotional issues underpins this relationship even if you never acknowledge it.

Issues that fester or harm this relationship? 10 of Wands – There are a lot of burdens still being carried by members of this family. Considering that you mention not having seen your sons in over 30 years, I’ll guess that guilt is part of this burden – you missed their childhoods. How did they cope? Perhaps there are things in their past that haunt and weigh them down too. 30 years is a lot of history – both good and bad.

How can this relationship start to heal? 7 of Pentacles Rx – Upon seeing this card the first thing that popped into my head is you all need to stop revisiting the past, harvesting that guilt, and instead work to build a new future together. Although the past will always impact your lives, if that’s all you focus on then it will taint your future together. I’m not saying to ignore the past, perhaps discussing it will bring some closure, but don’t allow it to linger between you. It could create a toxic environment that will prevent anything new and healthy from growing.

The overall message from this reading seems to be that you can repair this relationship but it will be a slow process and will require understanding and honesty. You will need to look within yourself and be honest about the emotions this situation brings up for you as well as trying to understand what it brings up for your sons. You’re almost strangers to each other but a willingness to stick it out may go a long way towards repair this fractured relationship.

As fans of Supernatural know, Mary Winchester not only disappeared from the boys lives 34 years ago, she died. Her death became the catalyst for the story arc for the first five years of the show. The boy’s father, John, devastated by the death of his beloved wife, becomes a hunter to discover what killed Mary and cursed their youngest son, Sam. John Winchester trains and raises his sons to be hunters, sometimes acting more as a drill sergeant than a father.

Mary Winchester is brought back from the dead at the end of season 11 by Amara, God’s sister, as a gift for Dean Winchester. Over the course of season 12, we watch as Mary, unsure how to deal with her rebirth and her adult sons, distances herself from the boys, but this reading takes place early in the season before any of those conflicts have arisen. It’s interesting to interpret this reading knowing both the backstory and its ultimate resolution.

If you’d like to learn more about the show visit the Supernatural Wiki

You can also watch all 12 seasons of the show on Netflix.  

Sheila O’Malley also offers some amazing recaps on episodes from the first three seasons (well she’s working on Season 3).  I highly recommend reading them!!.

 

Misjudging Relationships

Have you ever observed relationships of people and initially perceived them one way but then had your eyes opened and realized you were totally off base?  I have.  It’s been quite an interesting experience too and one that has reinforced the concept of not judging books by their covers.

It usually happens when I come across what I would describe as a solar/lunar (or almost stereotypical male-dominated relationship).  You know the type I mean – the male/yang/alpha partner appears to be the dominant one while the female/yin/beta partner seems to cater, kowtow and reflect the alpha partner’s glory.  Now, I also have to admit that my life experiences have primed me to recognize these types of relationships because they’re the ones with which I’m most familiar.  They were the type most common in the blue collar neighborhood in which I grew up.  Unfortunately, they were also the ones I saw become abusive (although let me be clear, I’m not saying all of these types of relationships become abusive).  It is the kind of relationship I was determined to avoid,

Of course, one’s perceptions as a child and those as an adult are quite different.  Watching these types of relationships now I have come to realize that the power dynamic is not as imbalanced as I once believed.  I have learned that a more yin/beta partner can be just as controlling and domineering as a yang/alpha partner. They just use different techniques to ensure their goals are met. For example, I’ve watched the “passive” partner use subtle and sometimes not so subtle behaviors to influence their partners. The most frequent one I’ve noticed is almost a temper tantrum. The more passive partner will become upset because something is not to their liking (for example their food is not prepared correctly). Instead of addressing it with the wait staff, the beta partner will complain to the alpha partner. This will cause the more assertive partner to take up the banner and charge into the fray to ensure things are corrected to the beta partner’s liking. Or the passive/beta partner will push buttons that will result in the outcomes they desire but allow them to look blameless. Things turned out this way because of the alpha/assertive partner’s insistence. It can be fascinating to watch.

It’s an interesting dynamic and requires a subtly of which I’m not capable. I can admire it and acknowledge its effectiveness while accepting that it’s beyond my capabilities. The major realization I’ve taken away from these observations is that I’ve misread these relationships. Due to my own blinders and prejudices, I didn’t realize that just because the passive/beta partner is assertively challenging situations or fighting whenever their partner did something insulting, domineering or just not to their liking, that doesn’t mean they’re not handling it. They simply use a less confrontational (and possibly more effective) approach.

 

Handling a 7 of Wands relationship style

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

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

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

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

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

Vision Tarot - 7 of Wands

Have you ever done a burlesque act? You know what I mean, done a song and dance number to hide the truth about yourself from someone else? It’s probably a defense mechanism you’ve developed to protect yourself after feeling hurt of victimized at various points in your life. I do it all the time. I joke about the pain and difficult experiences I’ve gone through to deflect questions I’m uncomfortable answering. I don my “tough broad” armor to repel any attempts to breach my defenses and get to the heart of me.

I realize this can be counter-productive simply because it’s creates situations in which I’m isolated and feel abandoned but that’s my own doing. I create self-fulfilling prophecies in which I don’t let people in because I’m afraid to trust them but then when I need them no one is there because I pushed them away. In my script, however, I’ve been “abandoned”. It’s screwy and I own it but I’m also taking steps to change this pattern. Quite frankly I didn’t even realize how often I do this until I was reading several blog posts by Sheila O’Malley about this tendency in the Dean Winchester character on Supernatural. As I was reading her analysis something clicked in my brain and I realized how often I do exactly the same thing. I think Dean and I might both be like Charles Durning’s character in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas – dancing my little side step.

Druidcraft 7 of Wands

This can be diverting and a very useful survival tool for brief periods of time. Over the long haul it can eventually create more problems than it solves. As I mentioned, when you are constantly burlesquing people don’t know when to take you seriously. They aren’t sure what is a true issue versus a humorous skit. I’ve done this myself, I make my pain into a comedy routine so people are never sure how serious the pain is. Hell, sometimes neither am I. Don’t misunderstand, I’ll never completely give up the burlesque act because it also serves as a filter – people who are repelled by the burlesque act probably aren’t folks I want to incorporate into my life anyway. Those that are willing to stick around will eventually see the more serious me. In fact they may quickly grow to regret that. Either way the point is that there isn’t anything wrong with putting on a burlesque act. I think it can be healthy and a powerful survival tool. It only becomes problematic when you can’t stop the act; you can’t allow anyone beyond those defenses. It might seem safer but I imagine it’s a lot lonelier too.

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.

You always hate the one you love

I have been watching (well okay, binge watching) the Brit TV show Midsomer Murders and I’ve noticed a pattern that made me wonder about relationships. In each show there seems to be at least one couple in which one partner is continually putting the other down; the wife who scorns the husband’s lack of ambition or the husband show scorns the wife lack of sophistication. I have seen this in real life relationships as well. It seems as if the very traits that attract us to a mate in the first place begin to grate on our nerves over time. This is not always the case but it is common enough that it made me wonder why we sometimes start to hate the ones we love. What goes on in our minds that changes what were once endearing and attractive qualities into ones we despite and loathe.

Vampire Lovers

I am far from a relationship counselor but I do occasionally find myself struck by insights into human nature. For example I find it sadly amusing when couples who spend an inordinate amount of time planning a wedding end the marriage within a year. It’s as if they were (well, let’s be honest here, it’s usually the bride) so wrapped up in the ceremony they gave little thought to the actual relationship. Taking that theory to the next level, how often do partners in a relationship see their significant other as clay to be molded rather than as a fully formed independent human being? Based on the number of divorces out there, I’d have to say quite a few.

DruidCraft 6 of Cups

I’ve often heard the comment “he’ll change once the children come” or “once you’re married she’ll settle down”. I wonder what these folks are thinking. Why would the arrival of children change someone’s true self? It might change their behaviors but I’ve found that this often leads to resentment. For example, I know a man who held a part-time job he loved making okay money. He was not the primary bread winner in his relationship and he was okay with that. His job left him with free time to do what he enjoyed. Then his partner announced she was pregnant. They got married, he changed jobs to one with a better salary but that he hated. He stuck with it as the second, third and fourth child arrived. Then one day he left the wife and kids and began having an affair with an old girlfriend. He did return to the wife and kids but the story made me wonder why his wife thought having children would eventually grow on him, despite his protests that he wasn’t ready to be a father at that time. In forcing the issue did she create a pattern that inevitably lead to that outcome? I’m not sure but I doubt it helped the situation.

DruidCraft 3 of Cups

I’ve seen a number of people (usually women) marry partners who enjoy hanging out and partying with their friends (indulging or even over-indulging in alcohol among other things). They seem to believe the partner will stop indulging once their married and will settle into quiet domesticity once the children are born. Why? Clearly that is often an erroneous belief that often results in embittered divorced people. Could it have been avoided if the partners took each other at fact value and accepted the statements each made about themselves?

For that matter why do people not believe you when you state you do not want children? And why don’t more potential spouses discuss this with each other? I’ve come across quite a few wives who cannot believe it when they learn their husband does not want children or vice versa. When asked for details it is often revealed that they never discussed the issue before they were married because she assumed he wanted children or they did and she assumed he’d change his mind. When I was younger and told people I didn’t want children (never have, never will), I often got a patronizing ‘oh you’ll change your mind once you’re a mother” type responses. Thank the gods I met a man who felt the same way about the issue that I did and we discussed it once we realized our relationship would be long term. I don’t understand this assumption that everyone should want children and having them will be the greatest thing since sliced bread. In fact I can thing of few things more guaranteed to kill a troubled relationship than parenthood.

Once again, I have few answers and lots of questions. I can only believe that clear communication (and accepting what your partner tells you) can help matters but I doubt it’s a perfect solution. I suppose the reality is that sometimes one partner changes and the other doesn’t. Sometimes we delude ourselves about who our partner is and what personality traits he/she possesses. We lie to ourselves and we lie to the people in our lives. It may not always be intentional but it can definitely harm our relationships.

DruidCraft 4 of Cups

Okay, first things first. I may have hinted at or even mentioned it before but my childhood was messy. I suffered from physical, psychological/emotional and sexual abuse at the hand of a family member. I’m not going into details because the reality is they’re not important. They’re not necessary for the point I’m trying to make. Suffice it to say that my family put the fun in dysfunctional.

Dark Carnival Strength

I have often made light and joked about these experiences in an effort to make them less important. I refuse to be defined by them and when I was growing up it was much too easy to be labeled “the girls who was raped” or “the girl from that white trash family”. As it was my family was a bit notorious because my parents were very young (Mom was 16 and Dad had just turned 17) when I was born. As a result many of the neighborhood busybodies watched me for years waiting for the demon horns they just knew existed to sprout from my forehead. Rather than becoming a statistic I married a man I love and not because I was pregnant. I managed to complete two master degrees in different majors and for many years was a successful career woman. I showed them! ;D

Norse Tarot 3 of Cups

One day while joking about some of my family dysfunction with some newly acquired friends, one of them suggested that it wasn’t healthy to joke about the pain I experienced. At the time I felt shamed and embarrassed, as though I wasn’t handling it correctly. Now my response would be a more colorful variation of “Screw you”. Joking was the healthy way for me to handle it – then and now. I recently realized that J.K. Rowling even offered a spell for just this type of situation in the Harry Potter series – Riddikulus!

Baubo Siren of Earth Dark Goddess Tarot

By joking about the abuse and demons that tormented my childhood I was making light of them; making them ridiculous and less dangerous. Sometimes when you can’t face and defeat the monsters attacking you then the only option is to make fun of them and drain off their power. Laughter is powerful magic. In fact in ancient Ireland the mockery of a bard was seen as damaging and harmful, especially if one is a king who has been mocked. It could reveal your unworthiness to the world.  Laughing at what scares us can help release some of the paralysis that chains us in place. It can help us get moving again; to find our way to a better, safer place. Thank all the gods for laughter!  It can help cleanse the most tormented soul.

I find it interesting when I’ve come across folks in life who seem to have no sense of humor. They see themselves as sober, “God-fearing”, practical folks. In reality I think they are the sickest among us. They have no ability to access the magical healing power of laughter. In the movie Dogma, Salma Hayek, playing a Muse, states that Catholics don’t celebrate their faith they mourn it.  It’s an interesting point. People who seem to have no sense of humor about their faith suck all the joy out of it. Who wouldn’t want to have joy and laughter in their spiritual celebrations.  Some of the most powerful rituals in which I’ve ever participated had moments of silliness, laughter and a touch of chaos.

45

So from personal experience let me offer this one piece of advice – no matter how dark and desperate things may seem, find a way to laugh. If you can’t find a way to joke about your own experiences then at least find a comedian or movie that makes you laugh and watch it. Laugh until you cry; until you are purged of those poisons and toxins that are building up in your system. Believe me, I can take life much too seriously but I was blessed to find a man who taught me how to laugh at myself. He gifted me with the healing magic of laughter and for that I will always be grateful.

I have a well-known propensity for laughing hysterically at farts and/or fart-jokes.  In fact my mother purchased me a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “You’re never to old to laugh at fart jokes”.  For a long time I felt guilty about this habit – as though it revealed a tacky, low-class side to my personality.  Now I embrace it because I realize that if I can laugh at one of nature’s smelliest, most embarrassing and humiliating moments, then I can laugh at anything life throws my way. My wish for anyone reading this is that you are learn to laugh at farts; that you are able to laugh at whatever craziness life throw your way.  That you learn to tap into the powerful magic of laughter for yourself.

Changeling syndrome

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

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

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

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

Dark Goddess Sekhmet Deark Goddess Tarot Hag of Air

 

Yesterday, while working on my Dark Goddess labyrinth journey, I drew the Hag of Air/Dhumavati in response to my request to Sekhmet for a message. Looking at these two cards together, I asked: “How can I transform the ugliness of my childhood into something healing and radiant?” Using the Pearls of Wisdom tarot, I drew The Star reversed and The Hierophant reversed. Despite their reversal, the vibrancy and the positive energy I sensed from these cards made it impossible to interpret them in a negative way. So I spent some time with the cards and read their entries in Roxi Sim’s companion book. Looking at the entry for The Star the phrase “unconditional love” jumped out at me. This was it! This was the message of this spread!

Pearls of Wisdom Star Pearls of Wisdom Hierophant

When I look back over some of the blog entries I’ve written, it occurs to me that I still carry a lot of damaged baggage from my dysfunctional childhood. Don’t we all? My family’s dysfunction might have been different than what others experienced, but to a child does it really matter?  What’s more important is how it leaves you feeling –  vulnerable, hurt, damaged, weak and ashamed (among other things). I’ve met many adults who find it difficult to accept that the childhood chaos and dysfunction was out of their control; that it wasn’t their fault and there was nothing they could do to stop or change it. As a result they sometimes convince themselves that they wanted the situation to play out the way it did or they resort to various methods of self-abuse such as addiction or bulimia because it gave them the illusion of control. I remember how awful and terrifying it was as a child to be awash in the craziness and unpredictability of my family’s dysfunction. I couldn’t see it coming and could do nothing to change the events that unfolded. At least if I was drinking too much that was my choice (or so I tried to convince myself).

The one thing that I took away from this dysfunctional and damaging childhood was that I was somehow not good enough. If I were good enough and met expectations then I would not have been punished. Those outer punishments took the form of some viciously malevolent inner demons whose talons still pierce my soul. Seeing The Star shining brightly like a beacon from this card made me realize that the one thing I’ve never received in my childhood, and so found difficult to give to others, was unconditional love. Love with no strings attached; no expectations. Just a pure, healing balm that soothes the shredded soul. The Hierophant reversed is letting me know that I still have some learning to do before I can begin trying to teach others. It’s funny, I resist my Hierophantic nature all the time and yet I consistently get messages that part of my journey is to teach. Perhaps this will ultimately be what guides me down that path.

Rebel

I thought about the unconditional love I’ve experienced in my life. It’s most pure and joyful expression was from my German shepherd Rebel. No matter how angry I might have been with him for some petty reason or other, his excitement and happiness when I got home every day was bliss. He greeted me, jumping and wagging his tail so much his whole body wriggled with it. He was unconditional love personified. Even the cats I’ve owned have been generous with their affection. If they did withhold it for some reason, it was clearly due to their feline nature rather than do to any emotional manipulation towards me. I’m sure anyone sharing their lives with animals has experienced numerous expressions of unconditional love. They model it for us all the time and we are able to return it to them because we trust they will never hurt us. We can be vulnerable and exposed with them because they won’t betray us.

So I have decided that my next experiment/project will be to emulate my German shepherd Rebel and just allow myself to feel the joy at a friend’s return; to offer unconditional love to myself and those around me. I know this won’t be easy – I am by nature a judgmental, occasionally vindictive bitch. However I know I can do this. I have experienced moments of transcendent bliss when I am able to love everything and everyone around me. I just have to try to create or recognize more of those moments in my life.

At the same time, I realize that not everyone out there is deserving of our love, conditional or otherwise. There are many predators who view this kind of attitude as naive, gullible and ripe for targeting. I am not gullible or naive. I’m not interested in embracing the world and teaching it to sing in perfect harmony (although if that every happens I’ll join my voice in too). What I”m talking about is loving those in my life unconditionally, without judgment or restriction. I’m not seeking a plethora of new friends, I simply want to be more loving, understanding and supportive of the ones I’ve got. My love is valuable and should not be wasted on those seeking to take advantage.

So TarotBroad fans, if I am able to give you nothing else today, let me offer you the healing balm of unconditional love and acceptance.  You are perfect.  You are worthy of love.  Your love has value.  You are an amazing being and have a lot to offer this world.  You just need to find that place within yourself where you can embrace and embody these truths.  For that matter so do I.  I have no doubts this journey will prove long, challenging, and very interesting but every journey starts somewhere.

Spiraling into the dark pit that is shame

 

The other day I had a dark and demoralizing battle with shame. I was surprised at how deeply and quickly I sank into the much and mire that is shame. The journey began innocently enough – browsing Facebook and chatting with a friend. By it’s end I was a babbling mess who was convinced she had irreparably damaged several valued relationships.

Without going into too many extraneous details, while not in full control of my faculties I managed to carry on a number of Facebook chats as well as one phone conversation with little memory of any of them. When I logged onto Facebook the next day and realized what I had done, I was horrified. I felt my soul shrivel up inside because I was afraid I had said something that might offend or insult one of my friends. Upon reviewing the messages I will say there were some that were completely nonsensical, a few that were moronic and some that were perfectly fine I didn’t notice any of the victims of my idiocy unfriending me. I received no infuriated messages insisting that I never bother the or darken their doorway again. Unfortunately this knowledge did nothing to alleviate my shame. Instead I spent the next three days in solitude and isolation, avoiding Facebook on the off chance that my appearance might remind one of my victims that they preferred a life without exposure to me and my immature shenanigans.

Coincidentally I had a stomach problem over the weekend. I felt nauseous, dizzy and an awful pain in my stomach. I couldn’t figure out the cause. My hubby insisted it was some shrimp I had eaten. I thought maybe it was the lingering effects of what had caused my obnoxious behavior the night before. I’ve experienced lingering after-effects of both these things before but they usually clear up in a few hours and after a dose or two of antacids. This time it lasted for days. In fact as I’m writing this I can feel the knot starting up in my stomach again. It’s a physical pain but I’ve finally realized it’s cause is not.

It wasn’t until I compared the pain to the knots I used to get in my stomach as a child awaiting punishment for some misdeed. My father was a harsh, unyielding disciplinarian so even the most minor infraction usually resulted in corporal punishment. So there is an element of fear twined through this pain as well as shame. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop; for the punishment to be delivered. I broke a rule, violated an implied contract and I felt I deserved to be punished. As no one was taking me to task (my friends were either ignoring my faux pas, understanding of my flaws or tolerant of my screw-ups – or perhaps a combination), I was doing it to myself.

I have never experienced such a powerful, clear connection between my inner critic and physical ramifications. In fact had someone told me about something like this, I would have dismissed it as New Age claptrap. Feeling those inner demons roiling around in my stomach has been quite a wake-up call. I never would have believed that I could internalize shame, fear and criticism in such a visceral way. It’s eye-opening and infuriating. I like to see myself as invincible; not permanently scarred by the dysfunction that was my childhood. Clearly I’ve been fooling myself.

Dark Goddess 2 of Air

To help me move forward, I asked Sekhmet for some assistance in being less harsh and unforgiving of myself. She sent me Athena – the goddess of wisdom and strategy, clear-sightedness and rational thought. Her advice to me (as channeled through the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot) is 7 of Swords Rx and 7 of Cups. At first their message was confusing to me. Upon further reflection and exploring the images more, I began to see a clearer message.

Pearls of Wisdom 7 of Swords Pearls of Wisdom 7 of Cups

The 7 of Swords was reminding me that I’m out on a bridge fighting an internal battle against attackers that are not real – they are inner demons; ephemera that are no less deadly despite their incorporeal nature. The face in the clouds blows wind against the figures back suggesting the winds of fate are pushing him against his will. Two green, feminine faces occupy opposite corners of the card. Their eyes may be closed or may be crystalline – either way they seem somewhat inhuman and unsympathetic. They have no interest in the fate of the man on the bridge. Being reversed, this card suggests that this is all being done within my on psyche; by me and to me. The truth is that people do care but many are probably unaware of this internal battle to defeat these devastating inner demons.

The 7 of Cups is showing me that I can choose; I can let the healing energy of love and inner joy pour over me and wash away all those inner demons. There is a centeredness and sense of peace and calm about the figure in the center of the 7 Cups. Her eyes are closed and she is undistracted by the cups surrounding her. The Sun swirling brightly above her head suggests that she is blessed by its radiance and warming rays. The rainbow above the sun connects the energies of this card to Temperance and suggests that the powerful energies of the Sun and Temperance can be tapped to aid in the healing process. All of these options are available to me, all I have to do is reach out and accept their help.

I might not be the complete cure but it’s certainly a good start. The best option is to reduce the opportunities for situations in which I am not in control of my faculties. If such a situation does occur, then I need to be more diligent about avoiding making phone calls or browsing Facebook. The most important thing for me to do is accept that I will screw up. With or without external aids, I will manage to say and do things that will offend. These actions are rarely intentional but that doesn’t make them any less embarrassing. From now on if I realize I’ve insulted or offended a friend, I will apologize for my behavior and move forward. If that person chooses to disassociate with me, I will respect that decision.

So here’s the truth folks – we all screw up. We all have times when we offend and insult friends and loved ones. We can only hope that they care for us and are tolerant of our quirks and embarrassing moments. We can take steps to reduce the amount of times such incidences occur. The most important facet of getting through these types of situations, as I have learned from painful experience, is to slay those damned inner demons that keep beating you up about your mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities and approaching them that way can help alleviate the anxiety, shame and fear. Of course, one should probably try to avoid making a recurring habit of such mistakes but I would hope that our friends can forgive our foibles and not hold them against us.

 

 

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