TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Kali’s dance of death is inevitable. You can’t avoid it or postpone it, only accept it. Stubbornly refusing to accept change can create stagnation and prevent skills from growing. Face Kali and absorb her message so you can begin growing and manifesting your future.
  • Perhaps you enjoy the status quo. You feel on top and in control and don’t want that to change. Unfortunately, that’s an illusion. No matter how hard we cling to now, it always slips from our grasp. Enjoy it while it’s here but prepare yourself for future changes as well. Being King of the World is never permanent.
  • Kali will eventually dance on all our bones, that is the nature of life – things die so new life can grow. We try to outrace her; to create an oasis hidden from her influence, but it’s futile. On the positive side, things we hate right now will eventually fall to Kali’s dance too. As Bowie sang “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange.”

Blue Rose Moon

Blue Rose Moon

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The book says: And the Fool understands at last what he has been seeking as he traveled these many, many pathways.

Not just the ability to know – and not just the ability to dream. But the ability to understand the difference combined with the intuition to know how, where and when the two should come together.

And the power to make it happen.

As needed.

As wanted.

The true pearl of all existence.

Wisdom.

Just the mental visualization of the word causes the Universe to move once again. And the great Moon overhead casts down her golden beams of luminous light upon the dark water. And slowly, rhythmically, those waters begin to move. Very slowly at first, this ebb and flow of water, until at last, the growing walls of water begin to crash against the rocks, spewing their foam into the air. Crashing violently against those enormous columns of stone. The solid reality of rock. The ever-changing ebb and tide of water. The shifting interplay of light and shadow. A rhythm of movement both ancient…And eternal.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card speaks of darkness and mystery, of shadows and secrets.  Who is this figure and what does she (he) want?  Why is the figure standing at the shoreline and what does she hope to see?  Is the full moon friend or foe? Guardian or watcher?

Obviously the answers to these questions will depend upon your perspective but for me I see the figure as a guide to the mysteries of the moon.  She will help you examine the truths which we keep hidden even from ourselves; those deep, dark emotions we may prefer to avoid or to embrace so heartily that we lose sight of all else.  She is the guardian of our shadow side, our deep inner nature.  She can help us find the way back to shore after we have visited those stones in the middle of our soul, but she won’t save us if we chose to drown.  She understands that the darker, more intuitive side of our nature can be frightening and overwhelming but she cannot overcome that fear, we must do it on our own. She can help us learn to accept and embrace that side of ourselves but she cannot do it for us. She is also a sentinel watching to make sure that nothing too frightening overwhelms us until we are ready to deal with it.

In some ways this card reminds me of the role Dr. Wilbur, the psychiatrist, takes in the movie Sybil about a woman with multiple personality disorder. She cannot protect Sybil from the truth of her past with all its pain and torment but she can help her take it one step at a time until she is ready to embrace all of her selves and face the truth about her childhood. It can no longer physically hurt Sybil but dredging up those hidden memories almost causes her to hurt herself. Dr. Wilbur is there to guide her past those rocky points and let Sybil learn how to integrate her many selves into a healthy whole.

Discipline and the shallow stream

I have come to realize that I resist any form of discipline – even when it’s one I believe I want. When I try to keep a journal, I find I’ll stick with it for a few days and then I grow resentful and stubborn and decide that no one is going to tell me what to do (not even me) and I stop. It’s ridiculous, immature and self-defeating. I know this. Hell, I’m calling myself on it and yet I can’t stop it.

DruidCraft 4 of Cups

This has recently forced me to ask myself why? I tend to avoid being overly introspective because . . . well read the preceding paragraph. This time I forced myself to really think about why I’m so resistant to this stuff. After a few uncomfortable fits and starts it finally clicked for me. I avoid journaling, introspection and other exercises which might force me to take a deep look at myself because I’m afraid of what I might find. I may joke about being as “deep as a shallow stream” but the reality is that I like to believe I have some depth; that there is an introspective side to me. I have a feeling that I avoid exercises that might help prove this theory because I’m equally terrified that it will disprove it. What if I am truly shallow? What if the things I consider signs of depth and introspection are simply going through the motions? There are times when I am convinced that I lack the capacity for human compassion and empathy; when I don’t understand the emotional undercurrents that drive people’s behaviors. There are times when I actually believe I have sociopathic tendencies. I wonder if my preference for well-defined boundaries and strict adherence to rules (well most rules anyway) are an effort to enforce an ethical code because I’m afraid relying on my conscience won’t cut it.

Touchstone 7 of Wands

Of course I also realize that a large amount of this fear is due to my father. I loved my father but learned early on that there was a huge screw missing. He often did things he knew were “wrong” or unethical and he did them anyway. His lack of understanding and compassion were frightening to child, especially one who was so often told how much she was like him. As I grew older as realized I didn’t quite fit in with others in the sense that I just didn’t understand their reasoning and motivations for things, I panicked a bit. I thought I was defective somehow. So I learned to compensate and hide this – or at least I tried to, I can’t say I did a very good job. Even now I just don’t understand what drives people in certain areas. I will never understand what pushes women to submit to increasingly invasive procedures in order to have a child. It’s not in my psyche because I’ve never, ever wanted children. Now at least I realize there’s nothing wrong with me or them – we just differ in this area.

Tarot of the Crone Ace of Cups

Now as this post draws to a close I’ll reveal my big discovery (which readers may have figured out already), I’m not shallow. As I was reviewing this post I realized that if I was shallow I wouldn’t worry about it. If I truly had no depth or talent for introspection then this blog wouldn’t exist. Whew! I really had myself worried for a minute there.

Wheel of Change Tower

Wheel of Change Tower

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
ISBN #0-89281-609-0

The Book Says: In a reading, this card represents a loss of structure – perhaps a straight-forward physical loss, such as losing one’s job or home, or a more complex emotional loss, such as feeling of being misplaced or terribly wrong. It can represent a world in which you feel out of control, a world where others determine your future with no regard for your needs. A worst-case scenario is a world of war. The Tower can represent ineffective communication, either by yourself or by others towards you, perhaps in the context of an important relationship. This may leave you feeling isolated and remote, as if you were physically ensconced within an ivory tower. Your only way out is to break the spell of the distance you feel and to admit your pride and arrogance in order to resolve the impasse. The appearance of the Tower in your reading indicates that while the world may seem to crumble around you, perhaps this is the way that balance and harmony will be restored. The feelings you experience during a true titanic crisis will strip you to your soul, and through this kind of experience you may undergo a purification that will help you to find the creativity to go on.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card is one of almost absolute destruction. The tower is full of smoke and fire and not likely to survive. The volcanic eruption is filling the streets with lava, smoke and ash. It reminds me of what Pompeii must’ve looked like when Mt. Vesuvius spewed molten lava and ash across its streets. The searing heat of the lava must’ve felt unbearably suffocating. The lightning bolts shooting through the sky are threatening and frightening.  This image reminds me of a scene from an Irwin Allen disaster movie. The entire world seems to be destroying itself.

I have to admit that there doesn’t seem to be much hope in this card. And with things standing the way they are right now if almost seems prophetic. It certainly seems to bring to mind the current situation in the Middle East, especially Syria; explosions, eruptions, fire and devastation. Everything will be razed to the ground, with nothing left standing.  The only hope is that people are escaping. They manage to free themselves from the destruction and devastation and hold the hope of rebuilding and restoring some sense of structure and order. It brings to mind the Stephen King book The Stand which describes what happens to the survivors of a deadly, lab created virus which escapes a military installation. Civilization and life as they know it no longer exists. And the survivors must struggle to rebuild while at the same time, hopefully, avoided the same traps that condemned their civilization to destruction. The one hope the Tower holds is that we can learn from the destruction and devastation and take steps to prevent such things from happening again.

Fearing the “Others”

Dance of Life 6 of Relationships

 

The other day I drew the 6 of Relationships from the Dance of Life Tarot. The key phrase on the card is Mirror of Myself. In the companion book the author writes about expecting the reflection in mirror to match ours and for our reflection to look out on a face similar to ours. It’s when we realize that there are “Others” who do not share our reflection that we become fearful and threatened.

This seemed especially appropriate to me right now in light of the conversations and debates that have sprung up in the wake of the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair cover. It made me think about the reactions of the residents in that Texas town who called the police to stop a teenage pool party because some of the attendees were “other”. It reminded me of Trayvon Martin who was followed and ultimately killed because he was “other”, unfamiliar, unknown or Brandon Teena who was killed for being a transgendered person

Why are we so frightened by people or things that are different? I can speak for anyone else but can only work from my own experiences. I tend to initially respond to changes or anything different in my life with hostility. I do not like change, it makes me twitchy. I do not consider myself nor have I ever been accused of being racist or bigoted or prejudiced, although I certainly have prejudices. I try to respond to people as individuals and take them at face value; the way they present themselves to me. However I’m like most people and do have my pet peeves that can trigger prejudiced responses (don’t get me started on hipsters or transplants!).

I think the biggest difference in my reactions to people that trigger my prejudice button is that they make me feel endangered or threatened. I’m not worried about groups of black teens or “scary” looking people on the subway. It’s not that I don’t realize there is a potential danger there it’s that in my experience they don’t threaten me. Hipsters and transplants do because they have and continue to change my hometown, my city. They have transformed it into an unrecognizable playland for the wealthy and tourists. The shredded remains of my childhood, my memories are buried beneath an avalanche of new high rise apartment buildings and trendy eateries. I lived here in the bad times and in the worst times. For these people to whitewash all that and try to tell me what it means to be a New Yorker is insulting and triggers my prejudice buttons (accompanied by colorful and vituperative rants).

To be fair, I don’t know these people individually and the people I am friendly with who moved to NYC years ago don’t trigger any negative response. Perhaps if I got to know some of these newer transplants I’d be less hostile to them too. I believe that is the key to reducing racism, prejudice and hatred. We’re threatened by what is unfamiliar to us. If we become familiar with what threatens us we may find that they aren’t any different than we are. I grew up in a neighborhood that was very ethnically diverse. The common denominator between us was that we were all working class or poor. If we felt threatened by anything is was folks from outside our neighborhood “invading” for any reason. When I went to high school and started meeting students from other parts of the city it helped expand my horizons and learn more about the world outside my neighborhood. I think more diversity will help us learn not to fear the “other”.

This situation is further complicated by media coverage that tries to convince us that the “others’ out there want to take things away from us. Gays want to destroy traditional marriage. Blacks want to destroy white communities. Women want to invade bastions of male privilege and ruin it for the “boys”. Poor people want to suck away at public resources and force the 1% to share their wealth. I could go on for pages like this and what it comes down to is that we have something and “they” (whoever they are) want to take it from us. That triggers fear and anger and results in the violence and hostility we’re seeing.

Sensitivity training will only go so far. In fact I often wonder if it doesn’t just cause people to hide their true feelings and act in a socially acceptable manner without changing the underlying dynamic. It seems to me that getting to know “others” is the best way to lower these fears and reduce prejudice. How do we do that? I’m not sure because humans do tend to group in herds of a like mind. We surround ourselves with folks who share our viewpoints and so reinforce our fears. Perhaps we’re hard-wired to gather in tribes and protect our tribe from any perceived threat. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to expand who we see as part of our tribe. Maybe that’s the key – adopt some “others” into our tribe. Of course it helps if they’re open to our invitation and don’t try to force the tribe to dramatically change to suit their perceptions and worldview. Oh well, clearly this offers no life-altering or brilliant insight to the problem, I’m sure this idea has been presented many times before in many ways, but perhaps it will help just a few folks see things in a different light or open up a dialogue or two. Even baby steps are better than remaining in stasis.

How appropriate that I’ve been revisiting the Hanged Man from a few different decks these last few weeks.  It reminds me that every so often we need to stand the status quo on its head so we can see things differently; get a different perspective.  Perhaps that what needs to happen now.

Greenwood Hermit

 

For some reason today I’ve found myself pondering the energy of The Hermit. I can certainly see the challenge of forging ahead and searching through the unknown to find a path. However recently I’ve begun to see a shadow aspect of The Hermit – the madness of solitude. I’ve come to realize that solitude can provide one with an opportunity for deep insight and self-discovery, or it can push you past the breaking point. It can produce a situation where madness licks at the edges of your mind because the solitude has become unbearable. There have been times recently where that kind of madness has brushed against my mind.

Secret Forest Hermit

It has made me appreciate the sense of isolation and aloneness felt by caregivers of various stripes from stay-at-home parents to those caring for ailing family members. When the circumstances are such that socializing or time alone are just not in the cards, that’s when the wings of madness flutter close. Social networking can help relieve some of this sense of isolation and aloneness but it really is not substitute for human interaction.

Thoth Hermit

Of course I speak from personal experience. My life over the past few years has been a long example of the madness of isolation. In caring for my in-laws, a situation has been created in which I am usually alone with no adult interaction (as much as I may love my in-laws they are not capable of adult conversation at this point). I rely on phone calls and instant messaging to keep in touch with friends but sometimes it’s just not enough. Even when I’m talking or texting with friends I’m still in the same crazy-making environment.

Wildwood Hermit

Perhaps madness caused by isolation is also initiates creativity. I have certainly had moments when I become very creative trying to find ways to alleviate the solitude. History is littered with tales of creative geniuses who isolated themselves in pursuit of their goals. There can clearly be times when isolation and solitude produce a positive result but when it is the result of external forces I have a feeling that is when madness comes to call. The relentless, oppressiveness of forced isolation can push us over the edge. We might indeed be exploring uncharted territory and forging a new path but eventually all our efforts at distracting ourselves and alleviating the aloneness fail and we’re left lost in the woods with no recourse. Howling at the moon may be fun with a pack but when you’re alone in those woods you can feel a prickle of fear as worries of impending madness assail you.

09

 

Hermit reversed as dementia

Today, while working with my Dark Goddess and Deviant Moon Tarot decks, I had an insight into how dementia might feel from the inside. I pulled my card of the day from the Dark Goddess Tarot. It was Persephone/Judgement. Using this card as a guide, I asked the Deviant Moon Tarot “How can I integrate what is dying in my life with what is living and growing?” I drew The Hermit reversed and The Star in response.

At first I rather shrugged it off thinking that the Hermit reflected my current social isolation. However the longer I looked at this card the more convinced I became that it was about my mother-in-law. The expression on this Hermit’s face and her body posture suggest fear if not outright terror. The more I looked at this pathetic figure hunched in on herself the more I became convinced this card is a visual depiction of how my mother-in-law feels every day.

My mother-in-law is suffering from some type of dementia. She is not always able to connect with us when we speak to her. She often speaks to inanimate objects or people who are not there. She has forgotten how to care of the basics such as bathing or feeding herself. And yet every so often we get a glimpse of the woman she used to be. She will often cry softly to herself because she realizes this is not how it’s supposed to be. We are convinced that a part of the woman she once was is trapped inside her mind and horrified by what is happening to her. That is what I see conveyed on the Deviant Moon’s Hermit card, especially reversed.

The Hermit reversed reminds me that my mother-in-law is traveling a road that I cannot fathom and she’s doing it alone. No one, regardless of how well intentioned, can help her with this. It is an internal journey that can only end with death. All I can do for her right now is be there and help her where I can. It breaks my heart to see her deterioration. She still recognizes me even if she has no cognitive idea who I am. She will hug me or tell me she loves me but cannot tell you my name. It’s awful to witness but it must be so much worse to experience. Whenever I become frustrated or angry with her I’ll remember the expression of fear and confusion on this Hermit’s face and hopefully it will help me be more compassionate.

Introspection – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Introspection

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

The Book says: The need to withdraw from the busy, outer world in order to find peace, to evaluate one’s beliefs and to replenish. Inner vision quest. Time for soul searching. It is a good time to get in touch with the creative self, to keep a dream journal, work wight the Tarot or tools for meditation and self-awareness. One who cares little for the approval for others, who is independent, introspective and on the path of individuation. The reversed meaning of this card warn could warn of excessive isolation, inactivity, “antisocial” tendencies or even deep depression. It could stand for loneliness or an inability to ask for outside assistance.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I see this card as representing our quest deep within ourselves to find wisdom and understanding. It is the need to shine light on those dark sides of our nature which seem so frightening and horrible until we look at them clearly. The Hermit holds his lantern high in the air. He is surrounded by darkness and “scary” things. A skull rests on his chest; a snake across his shoulders and a bat flies above his head. Typically these are things that would scare people. Many of us shudder at the mere thought of a snake or a bat. And skulls elicit a similar reaction. And the polar bear, while beautiful, can be quite deadly and terrifying if met under normal conditions. But The Hermit has no fear of these creatures. He has learned how to communicate with them and incorporate them into his live. He is at home with man’s darker side as with his light.

The Hermit understands that life is more than just black and white. A rainbow of colors and shades of gray exists as well. If life were that simple then we would always know right from wrong. But nothing in life is that simple. We may all understand that murder is wrong. But we can also acknowledge that in certain circumstances we might find ourselves capable of killing someone. The Hermit has tread these paths of the human psyche and is comfortable roaming there. But at the same time he must be careful not to become lost among these pathways and to lose sight of the light side.

There is a glamour and attraction to the dark side of human nature and if we stay there too long we risk losing contact with the light all together. Andrew Vachss, a fairly well-known advocate for the right of abused children, writes a series of books about a character named Burke. Burke is the Hermit, with a twist. He roams the roads among the dark and evil things that men do and tries to save potential victims. But at various points in his career Burke has lost himself in these dark pathways and has to struggle to come back. But sometimes it’s easier to lose yourself – just as pessimism can seem safer than optimism. But the Hermit offers us a light to find our way back and he is waiting there for us to help us process what we’ve learned and not get lost in the dark.

Actually today is more of a Thoughtful Thor’s Day.  It’s rather gloomy, gray and chilly outside which means I’m limited to inside stuff today.  I can’t say that really excites me much but then again I don’t do a whole lot when it’s sunny out either.  I realize that part of the problem is my own focus and initiative.  It’s difficult to become excited about anything when I feel like such a prisoner.  The situation is getting worse and I don’t know what to do about it.  Maw Maw (the mom-in-law) becomes so agitated sometimes that it’s impossible to sleep.  Very often we’re almost asleep and she wakes up.  Then one of us has to get up with her because she starts touching things like the stove or trying to open the front door.  This results in both the hubby and I being sleep deprived and exceedingly cranky.  Putting her in an institution is a last resort to both of us but I’m afraid we might be reaching that point soon.

This entire situation makes me wonder at caring for the aging in this country.  So many of the resources available are limited and/or difficult to access.  In many cases we’ve been told that because she is not on Medicaid she’s not eligible for free services and she doesn’t have enough income to afford the paid ones.  I’ve seen this time and time again with friends whose parents are in similar situations.  Nursing homes or senior facilities are costly (ranging from $1500 per month to $6000 per month in this area) and also tend to be few and far between.  this means if we want to visit her it would take an hour drive to get to most of these places.  We’re also very hesitant to place her anywhere because her mental condition means she has no ability to communicate if someone is hurting her.

I’ve never been under the illusion that life is fair.  However many recent experiences have made me question our societal obsession with staving off death as long as possible regardless of the consequences.  I’ve seen many people caring for elderly parents who take them to the doctor or hospital for a variety of reasons.  The hospital is able to stabilize the parent but not actually heal or cure them.  As a result the parent is often either back in the hospital again in a few months or given another batch of medicine to “help” whatever condition the doctor believes he or she has now.  Maw Maw would probably be taking 10 pills a day if her doctor had his way.  He means well but he doesn’t truly know what is wrong with her and seems to believe that if he keeps giving her medications she’ll eventually find one that works.  It seems to be an all to common approach to healthcare in the US.

I’ve had several friends and neighbors battling various forms of cancer over the past few years.  It amazes me how painful and ultimately unsuccessful this process appears to be.  So often they believe they caught the initial cancer only to have it spread to a new area a few years later.  It’s almost as though the treatment actually accelerates the grown of the tumors.  I know the professionals state this is not what happens but from a layman’s perspective this is how it appears.  I think some of the miscommunication stems from the fact that for a doctor prolonging the patient’s life for another 5 years is a victory.  To the patient it just seems to be a long and painful battle that they ultimately lose.  I know some people do live for over 10 years after treatment for cancer.  In fact Maw Maw was diagnosed with uterine cancer back in 1981 and beat it, remaining cancer-free for over 30 years.  I would also never try to influence someone else’s choice for treatment.  That is a personal decision and something that needs to be left to the patient and her/his doctor.  However it makes me wonder what I would do if the situation ever arises (although I hope it never, ever does).

Wow a gloomy day really seems to bring up gloomy thoughts.  Of course my current situation doesn’t help matters any either.  It’s hard to be cheerful when your life has become a relentless deathwatch with no end in sight.  It also points out to me how much I rely on external distractions to keep me from focusing on negative things in my life.  In the past, my salary allowed me to buy books, Tarot decks and dolls (among other things) to keep me from realizing how unhappy I was with my job and other aspects of my life.  I’ve been rather slow to develop other coping skills.  I’d prefer to avoid the matter entirely and just zone out in front of the television or read a book.  I can tell that’s not going to work much long either.

To gain so clarity about this situation I asked the Tarot “How can I deal with this situation in a more healthy manner?”  I used the Dark Carnival Tarot and drew The Moon.

Dark Carnival Moon

The companion book offers a very contemporary and urban interpretation of this card, referring to blood moons, treacherous paths and ready to put a garden claw in the face of a foe.  This resonates with me right now.  Things do feel bleak and desolate (although I don’t feel threatened enough to need a garden claw),  It is an unsettling landscape that lies ahead of me.  It’s unfamiliar terrain and if I can’t trust myself then who can I trust?  I think The Moon is telling me that I need to stop fooling myself and see things for what they really are.  I also need to acknowledge that while things are bleak and desolate right now, they will eventually improve.  I just have to make it through this dark and scary night.  It’s not an especially pleasant image but it does offer some hope.

Blue Rose Fool

The Fool
Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance, 2001

Looking at this card gives me a sense of exhilaration and freedom.  It reminds me of the sensation I get when rising up the first hill on a rollercoaster.  The excitement builds and I’m eager to start the journey down but at the same time there is a hint of fear – what if something goes wrong?  Even the safest amusement park ride has the potential to derail and so does life.  This card reminds me that if we never take chances and let ourselves jump headlong into new experiences, we might live a safe life but how unexciting it will be.

This Fool seems confident that everything will be just fine.  In fact he seems to be taking that “foolish” leap to extreme levels.  Even if he crashes he will walk away having learned something valuable; a lesson that will take him to his next great experience.  How often have I taken the safe path in life?  Even in my career choices I favored jobs at which I was skilled rather than passionate.  Passion and excitement can be wonderful things but they may not always pay the bills.  It is often said that if you do what you love the money will follow.  I’ve seen many people who have managed to achieve that goal in their lives and yet I’ve been afraid to take the leap.

One of my biggest obstacles is my own fear and self-doubt.  If I can’t do something very well I prefer not to do it at all.  How I’m to learn whether I’m good at something if I never try it is something I’ve not quite determined.  Ironically as I get older I’m becoming more accepting of risk.  In fact I’m embracing it.  I think the experiences of my childhood made me crave stability and avoid risk.  Now that I realize you can never truly avoid risk and that nothing in life is ever stable, I’m more open to embracing change and taking that leap of faith.  I don’t know where I will land but from the expression on this skateboarder’s face the journey will provide quite a thrill.

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