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

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

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

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

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

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.

Blue Rose Chariot

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: The Chariot symbolizes the active realization of those concepts by getting out there and participating in Life. And you begin with the basics; navigating through the world, getting to know the other players, learning how to fend for yourself, cloth yourself, educate yourself. Control yourself.

The Chariot card is all about mastery and control. And in most cases, when you first attempt to control a situation, you exert a lot of energy and concentration. It’s a kind of “brute force” attempt to navigate one’s way through a situation, issue, relationship, whatever. You rely upon great strength of will. You constantly employ the concept that every action results in an equal but opposite reaction.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: When I first looked at this card I didn’t see the monitor, I saw it as representing people heading to the “big city” to find success, money or themselves. It reminded me of the expression “all roads lead to Rome”; if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. All of which I though fit The Chariot card – the desire to steer your own course, follow your own destiny. The need to move beyond your starting point (home town) and move on to a bigger challenge. Then when I realized that it was representing the electronic age, the information superhighway – it added an additional layer to the meaning.

On the Internet there is a need to be focused on your goals and aims, to have an idea where you are heading and how to get there. Without this focus and aim you can find yourself spending hours doing absolutely nothing but roaming without direction. You may have a goal in front of you but it is very easy to get lost on a byway or side route. There is also, unfortunately, a serious need for cautious and taking steps to protect yourself. Some strange and dangerous people populate the Internet just waiting for someone to cross their path.

The Internet also demands a certain amount of self-control and discipline. Communicating with people online can be tricky. One misplaced word can lead to a flame war of immense proportions. So The Chariot can also represent the need for maturity and responsibility. It can be so easy to send off a letter shredding someone else’s opinion to bits without giving a second thought, something many of us would never do in person. But the anonymity of the Internet seems to release us from some of the controls we usually place on our tongues. The Blue Rose Chariot card is a reminder and a representation of all the potential and the lure of such freedom. The road lies gleaming ahead of us and it is up to us whether we steer through it following some of the basic rules of the road or being a road hog, leaving pockets of road rage in our wake.

Mansions of the Moon Chariot

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

The LWP says: The rise to higher realms.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: While not the traditional Charioteer guiding (or being guided by) horses, this image shows a lovely woman riding a pair of wings. She seems to be at one with the environment around her and comfortable with where she is going. As she rises up on the wings, there is no fear or worry on her face. She appears to be calm and enjoying the experience. This card suggests that she is in control of the situation and knows where the journey will take her, or is just not concerned with the destination. She does not need to physically control the situation or impose her will. She will allow the wings to take her where she needs to go, secure in the knowledge that she is as one with her surroundings. She moves along her spiritual path with a sense of calmness and serenity. There is no need to force things to her will. She understands that her connection to the Universe and to the Divine will carry her to the correct destination.

There is a sense of giving oneself up to the journey and trusting that you are heading in the right direction. It is almost like surrendering to fate but without any sense of fatalism. This card symbolizes the need to let go of the need to control the situation and trusting in our connection to the Divine to raise us up. It reminds me of the Steve Miller song “Fly Like an Eagle” – “I want to fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me”. The wings are her spirit carrying her to the next level of her journey. And she trusts in herself and her spirit enough to give up control and allow it to guide her.

Okay – I might have mentioned that I’ve become a fan of the show Supernatural (okay, full disclosure – I love the Impala and Dean). One of the aspect I’ve found fascinating is the portrayal of angels and demons on the show. The writers have chosen to make these creatures complex, multi-faceted characters. There is no simplistic belief that all angels are good and all demons are bad. There have been angels who commit atrocities in the righteous belief that they are doing God’s work. There have also been demons who help the shows’ two protagonists (monster hunting brothers Dean & Sam Winchester) due to enlightened self-interest. This is one of the most appealing aspects of the show for me (well after the two brothers).

Sam & Dean Winchester with Baby

Sam & Dean Winchester with Baby

In many New Age and modern traditions, angels are seen as winged guardians and helpers; beings who are there to protect and help humanity when possible. However when one explores more ancient Judeo-Christian tradition we see far different descriptions of angels and their responsibilities. They are God’s soldiers and police force. When humanity doesn’t toe the line and Yahweh has had enough of his recalcitrant, disobedient creations he sends his angels down to smite us. Let’s face it, Michael the Archangel could give Norman Schwarzkopf tips in the art of war. How many times has Yahweh punished humanity using the angels? Yahweh can be fairly unforgiving and rather vindictive. The angels are the ones who administer Yahweh’s justice.

There are angels who watch humanity, recording and remembering what we do. Apparently they do not interfere in humans’ lives unless instructed to do so. There are angels who support Yahweh’s throne and sing his praises. The archangels are often portrayed as Yahweh’s right hands, his lieutenants. There are the cherubim with their four different faces (ox, lion, human and eagle). None of these creatures seem to be the warm and fuzzy angelic beings so prevalent in New Age thought today.

Uriel

Uriel – an angel who has no use for humanity

Over the course of the several seasons since angels have appeared on Supernatural they have proven to be vindictive, violent, willing to maim, torture and brutalize in order to achieve their goals. They often cloak their actions with claims that they are God’s will or for the greater good but they are as violent and destructive as any demon. Their willingness to smite entire towns in order to achieve their goals is frightening and quite eye-opening. When the angels turn their wrath on each other, the havoc created is . . . cosmic.

Naomi

Naomi – angelic torturer

There are angels who willingly torture other angels during various battles for supremacy in Heaven. Angels who willingly ally with demons to achieve their goals. There are angels who happily sacrifice human lives and souls in pursuit of their agendas. Many of the angels in Supernatural are portrayed as looking down upon humans – referring to them as “mud monkeys” and “larva”. These angels are infuriated by Yahweh’s favoritism towards humanity. They may be forced to help us but they’re not happy about it. While the individual angels may not be based in ancient tradition, some of their actions are similar to those described in the Bible.

CastielSeason9

Castiel – a helpful angel (most of the time)

In the Supernatural universe, even demons have different levels. Some demons are humans whose souls were corrupted due to their behaviors and decisions while living. Some (like Lucifer and Azazel) are fallen angels who defied Yahweh and were punished. Others (like Lilith) were created by the fallen angels and never lived as humans. You also have such well-known demons as Cain and the Knights of Hell he helped create. Based on the description, the Knights of Hell sound like the demonic equivalent of archangels. Demons can possess humans and take over their bodies, forcing them to engage in horrific acts that often leave the hosts traumatized, assuming they survive the experience.

Spn510-0505

Meg the demon – a former enemy turned mistrusted ally.

Most of the demons behave in ways we might expect – seducing and corrupting humans to the dark side, committing acts of mayhem and violence and bartering for human souls. Some are more violent and aggressive than others. Crossroad demons are rather like persistent salespeople – the won’t pursue you but once you make a deal with one you can be sure she or he will collect.

Image row

Crowley – King of the Crossroads and King of Hell

Over the course of the series some demons have proven very helpful to the Winchester brothers – although their motivations were not always clear or benevolent. Ruby shows up at the start of Season 3 with a demon-slaying knife that aids the brothers in slaying some of the demons that escaped when the devil’s gate opened. Crowley, King of the Crossroads, has proven quite helpful to the brothers during their efforts to defeat Lucifer and short-circuit Armageddon. Even Meg, a demon who was quite an enemy of the brothers in Season 1, returns in later seasons and prove to be quite an asset. The Winchester brothers can never full trust these demons because each time their helpfulness has proven to mask a hidden agenda. Sometimes their aid is not worth the price that must be paid.

Angel or demon, in Supernatural all have the ability to prove dangerous to humanity. As Dean has noted numerous times “Angels are dicks” and if one is a believer in free will this certainly will seem to be the case. Angels appear to ensure we follow God’s cosmic plan for us. If we resist they tend to get aggressive in their efforts to bring us in line. Demons are corrupting influences and, as expected, quite detrimental to humanity’s spiritual health. However they also raise several valid points regarding humanity’s tendency towards self-destruction and the fact that we cause more damage to each other than any demons ever could. I find these portrayals both thought provoking and refreshing. Instead of falling into the simplistic approach that angels are good and have humanity’s best interests at heart and demons are bad, corrupting and evil influences, the writers have created a multitude of shades of gray. For better or worse, these are not your grandmother’s angels or demons.

I’m sure I’ve posted before about the current situation in my life – I am a stay at home caregiver for an elderly, ailing mother-in-law and a disabled brother-in-law. Had anyone told me 5 years ago this is what I’d be doing I would have insisted they were certifiable. I was determined that I would never, ever become a mother or caregiver to anything more needy and dependent than my dog. Fate had an ironic way of proving me wrong. After getting fired from my job and realizing that the in-laws couldn’t really live without a caregiver, I ended up stepping into that role. Hubby helps out when he can (which is often a lot) but he also has to take care of things like shopping and fixing things around the house so he is often not here. That means the care and feeding of the inmates falls to me. If I say I detest it with every fiber of my being that still wouldn’t be strong enough.

Don’t misunderstand – I chose to do this because I was unwilling to see them institutionalized. However I did not expect my mother-in-law to still be hanging in there after 6 years. It wearing me out body and soul. I am losing interesting in everything but junk food. I feel like the real me has left the building and what is left behind is someone I don’t know. It’s worse than any horror movie I can imagine.

So what can I do? Well one obvious solution is to throw in the towel, admit defeat and have them institutionalized. This would not be my first choice for a variety of reasons. Once I take that stand then I limit my other options. That means my ability to leave the house is severely limited. So I need to find other ways to express myself creatively, spiritually and emotionally. Having conversations with either in-law is not happening. Inviting friends or relatives over is another pointless endeavor. It’s impossible to give them any undivided attention and sitting here all day sucks.

So what can I do about this stagnation and stuckness? I don’t know. I’m trying several approaches to the problem and I’m not sure what will work yet. One path is journaling. Sometimes just writing all the anger, frustration, confusion and sadness on paper helps purge it from my system. Another option is to keep connection with my social network. This is a bit trickier now that I’m not on Facebook but I can still use emails, AIM and (believe it or not) the telephone. Sometimes just the sound of another human voice and the ability to have sensible conversations can be quite a relief. Another tool that I’ve woefully neglected is spirituality. I know I feel better when I do a daily devotional and yet I keep procrastinating. It’s time to kick my ass in gear and take a few minutes every day to sharpen this saw.

So far I’ve just taken some baby steps towards pulling myself out of this stagnating pool that is my life. I still need to motivate myself to keep taking these steps otherwise I’ll be in over my head. The last thing I need is to drown in my own misery. I’m tired of being miserable (of course I do say that a lot). If I want to change things then I need to take action. I know this. I know it very well. Now I have to do something about it.

Okay, I admit it. I came late to the game but I have become a full-fledged Supernatural freak. I watched the show when it first came on but it was scheduled on Thursday nights and I had classes so I usually missed it, then I just fell out of the habit. A friend was recently enthusing about the show and I decided to try again. I can’t believe I waited this long. It has everything I love in a show – great chemistry between the brothers, interesting plots and a kickass car! I was a huge fan of The Night Stalker TV show in the ’70s and this series picks up where it left off and takes it to a whole new level.

To be honest, I have also become obsessed with Dean Winchester the older brother. The actor, Jensen Ackles, is a good-looking piece of eye-candy but he also makes Dean likeable and sympathetic despite his jackass, bossy tendencies. I connect with Dean for a variety of reasons. As an older sibling I understand the desire to protect the younger ones. I get that smug superiority that the eldest can sometimes exude. At the same time Dean is filled with self-doubt, low self-esteem and a desire for his father’s approval. I identify with all of those things. I know I can project an air of confidence and disdain for the approval of others but deep inside I’m often craving that very thing.

I understand Dean’s “good son” persona. I don’t know if this is something all eldest children feel but as a child I felt a desperate need to live up to my parents’ expectations of me. I often felt like I was held to a different, higher standard than my siblings. It wasn’t until I was older that I was able to break this pattern.

I am also drawn to Dean’s dark side. That ability to enter Hell or Purgatory and survive. When in these situations Dean can seem amoral, willing to do whatever it takes to survive. I sometimes sense that if I didn’t keep a hold on myself I could easily slip into amorality. In fact when I was younger my mother used to tell me I was unmoralistic – I knew what morals were but felt no need to apply them to myself or convinced myself that I was but that my standards were different.

Watching Dean go through his trials and lessons has opened my eyes to certain character traits in my own personality that might benefit from some tweaking. It’s also convinced me that deep down inside I want desperately to be a badass! So here’s to yet another journey down the road in the ’67 Impala. Who knows what other lessons I might learn?

The Winchester Brothers and Baby

Transformational Tarot Magus

The Magus
Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

This Magus is true magic man.  He reminds me of a DJ spinning a spell with each record he plays.  He weaves a tapestry of truth and fiction, of reality and fantasy with a deft hand sweeping his listeners along for the ride.  He uses the songs available introduce us to all the amazing possibilities of human experience.

This Magus doesn’t play the music for anyone else; she does it for herself.  Her primary goal is creating the musical magic that is an expression of her heart and soul.  She is also a trickster who breaks down walls that divide us through the songs she plays.  She channels her powers through the music and out into the world helping to create the reality she desires.

How can I embody this Magus’ energy?  Surrounding myself with sights and sounds that express who I am and who I want to be,  Music is one powerful tool to do this.  So is drawing, writing and dancing.  I can use them to channel my energies in ways that will help me manifest my desired reality.  What magic is more powerful than that?

Hidden Realm 8 of Pentacles Hidden Realm Faery Stallion

It took me some pondering but eventually I decided the 8 of Pentacles R shows me that instead of focusing on external products and stuff (toys), focusing on what I’m manifesting internally is one antidote.  It can help me get out of the mindset that I don’t have enough money.  I am what I’m minting right now.  I am the golden coin that will be produced at the end of my labors.  Instead of losing sight of that getting distracted by things, I need to stay focused and keep my eyes on the end goal.

The Faery Stallion reversed is a reminder that I have little control over what goes on in the outside world.  If I want to steer the course of my life then I need to worry about how I interact with the outside world; how I play that game.  If I decide not to play it that’s fine as long as it’s a conscious decision and not apathy.  Looking at it I was reminded of the old 70s song Wildfire.  If I want to ride off into the unknown on my stallion I can do that.  I just need to set my mind towards that goal.

To ward off despair, I think these cards are telling me I don’t need to play the money game or be part of the system.  I can find my own path that might be less traveled but no less successful for me..  They both tell me that the antidote to despair is not becoming distracted by other people’s definitions of success, achievement, etc.  I need to work on myself and plot my own course regardless of what “the world” thinks.

It is my choice if I give in to despair.  I may not have control over various situations in my environment but that doesn’t mean I need to let them beat my spirit.  In reality the only thing that can defeat me is me.  Despair can only claim me if I allow it to do so.  If I want to live a happy, joyous and fulfilled life then it’s a matter of priorities and focus.  I can choose to focus on what I don’t have and what isn’t there or I can celebrate and embrace what is.  I may occasionally give in to bouts of bleak despair but I think my nature is such that I refused to let it defeat me for long.

Dark Goddess 4 of Air Dark Goddess 3 of Earth

Looking at the reversed figure of Nut on the 4 of Air I get the sense of being consumed; entering through the red circle she holds in her hands and emerging through the one at her loins.  It’s almost as though she is diving towards me, ready to subsume me whether I’m ready for it or not.  She does not seem fearsome, her blue, star-filled body and calm expression preclude that.  However she does seem determined, almost like a mother who is determined to give you medicine whether you like it or not.  She knows what is best.

How tempting that seems – to rest myself in the body of the night sky and allow her to heal and succor my spirit.  Just writing that makes me tear up.  It’s seems as though it’s been so long since I’ve had a true rest; a healing, soul-restoring rest.  My life is filled with cat naps and exhausted sleep.  I awake feeling as tired as I was when I fell asleep.  In many respects caring for my in-laws is similar to having toddlers – you have to sleep with one ear open because you just don’t know when one might awake and what they might decide to do.  Even when I’m not sleeping at their house I find it difficult to relax and fall into a restorative sleep.

This card reminds me to the ancient healing temples that used sleep and dreams as part of the treatment.  It’s a reminder that sleep is necessary to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health.  I’ve read several books on dreaming and one of the concepts that grabbed me is that when humans do not have enough deep sleep, dream sleep, they suffer mental breakdowns and other health issues.  I think Nut is reminding me that I must make time to drop my defenses and responsibilities and get that deep, dream sleep.  The repercussions of not doing this may be more devastating than I realize.

The 3 of  Earth shows the Norns sitting at the roots of the world tree, Yggdrassil, weaving fates.  One of the things that has always appealed to me about the Norse concept of fate (or at least my limited understanding of it) is that rather than Past, Present and Future it is viewed as “That Which Was”, “That Which Is” and “That Which is Becoming”.  On the surface they are the same but in practice the Norse saw time as circular.  Actions today can not only change “that will is becoming” but can also changed “that which was”.  Certain aspects of our wyrd were predetermined but others could be changed by our current actions.  That seems more hopeful to me than a predetermined fate which cannot be changed or modified.

On a personal level, The Norns remind me that I do have the ability to change my future.  I’m not the plaything of an indifferent Universe but a full participant in my own life.  That is something I occasionally forget.  Perhaps the lack of true rest is also distracting me from focusing on creating the destiny I desire.  It’s time to carve out some time and space for myself and focus my energies on manifesting the future I deserve.

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