Tarot Hunter’s Silver Bullets:

  • Take time to enjoy what is in your life right now
  • Appreciate family and the blessings you’ve been given
  • It’s our loved ones and our experiences that enrich our lives, not the things we acquire

I have a tendency of finding some people irritating for no apparent reason. They’ve never done anything to hurt me in any way. In fact, in many cases they are more than pleasant to me and some I would even describe as close acquaintances, maybe even friends. Yet there remains something that makes me grit my teeth when I’m in their general vicinity.
This bothers me. Disliking people is fine. That’s how the world works. There are people we will dislike and people who will dislike us in return. I’m the first to admit I’m an acquired taste and I’m sure I irritate some people like a speck of sand inside a clam. I understand that. What I’m referring to is when I can’t find any reason for this dislike. Why does this person set my back teeth on edge without even trying?

I have come to realize that sometimes there is no clear, rational explanation. It’s instinctual. I’ve heard theories that sometimes another person’s scent or pheromones trigger something in us that reacts with hostility. I suppose that’s possible – I honestly try not to go around sniffing other people. However, I realize that the majority of the time I’m reacting this way to a specific trait the person possesses and it invariably is one that I possess as well. Surprise!

Sometimes I am reacting to a trait that I share with the other person. Seeing my irritating traits in others is apparently just as irritating to me. I believe this is a common reaction. What surprised me more was when I realized that what I was reacting to was/is a trait that I enjoy about myself and feel the other person is “stealing”. For example, let’s say I’m the type of person who presents a boisterous, outgoing, sometimes outrageous persona to others (just an example clearly). I have moments where I will observe something doing something similar to my “schtick” and garnering positive responses and I feel a flash of jealousy followed by a flash of dislike. If this person takes my niche then where will that leave me? Wait a minute, what did I just write?

Yup, it turns out that in about half the instances I “dislike” someone, it’s really simply that I’m jealous of them on some level. I’m afraid if they can act the same way I do then I will become redundant. I want to be the center of attention; the Sun in my universe. I will fiercely defend my position (see my previous post about my 7 of Wands approach to relationships); guard my niche. Of course, now that I realize this is my proclivity, I try to catch myself before I say or do anything embarrassing or rude. Overall I’ve gotten pretty effective at it. Sometimes I feel like an observer watching my behavior and then catching myself before I make any major faux pas. It’s not easy and I still fail spectacularly on occasion but I’m trying. At the end of the day, I guess that’s the best any of us can do – make a genuine effort to change.

Just take the freakin’ compliment Part 2

So, as I thought about yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I didn’t actually offer any tips or ideas or insights that might help others dealing with similar issues. So this is just a few bullet points of what helped me. Your mileage may vary and believe me I’m not a professional so this is a very idiosyncratic list.

  • Train yourself to consciously accept compliments. This is both simpler and much more difficult than it seems. I think so many of us program ourselves (or are programmed) to consider compliments as dangerous because they draw attention to us. We’re afraid that being noticed will bring negative reactions from peers or rivals. It can lead to teasing and other less pleasant reactions. However I think we all need to say “Screw that!” in a loud, confident voice. We need to consciously stop those negative inner critics and allay our fears about the reactions of others and embrace those compliments for what they are – recognition of our efforts and hard work. They are verbal “Atta girls” and need to be treated as such – not as time bombs that might go off unexpectedly producing collateral damage.
  • Help others who suffer from the same issues. We all know people who respond in the same way to compliments – they deflect, self-deprecate and psychologically shuffle their feet. A nice, quiet, friendly reminder that they do deserve the “Atta girl” can go a long way towards healing that wound. Listen to what you tell them and then tell yourself the same thing the next time an occasion arises.
  • Remember that confidence is not the same as braggadocio. Next time you see a cocky, swaggering, bragging colleague or friend, look into their eyes or really listen to their voice. I’m betting you have someone who is just as fearful and mistrustful of compliments as you are they just process it differently. Try allaying their fears that no one will notice their hard work unless they draw attention to themselves. Help soothe the frightened beast that is convinced no one really appreciates them. Sometimes roaring is simply a way to gain attention. It’s a different approach to the same insecurities and self-doubts.
  • Considering that I use Tarot for so many things, naturally I work with them to address this issue too. There are a few ways to do this. One is a simple, straightforward reading on the topic focusing on what the roots of this insecurity are and how to heal it. Another technique that I’ve found useful is to use the cards to have conversations with yourself – your “inner child”, your inner fears, call them what you like. Sit down with a cuppa tea (or bottle of beer if that’s more your style) and ask questions. After each question pull a card and think about what the answer is. Treat it as though it’s an answer from the entity or part of yourself that you questioned. It’s amazing the results you can get from this technique because it bypasses many of our built in defenses and can reveal what we’ve been hiding from ourselves.
  • Friends and support networks are also invaluable in overcoming this. I’ve had amazing conversations with friends who will spontaneously volunteer compliments about my skills or knowledge. It’s gratifying and touching to realize that people whose opinions you value see you in such a valued way.

There are lots of other tools out there that can help with this issue. The self-help shelves in bookstores have lots of offerings (well the few brick & mortar bookstores that are left). I’m sure your local library will have some options or can borrow them for you through inter-library loan. Self-help groups and/or counseling can also provide beneficial insights and techniques if that’s your preference. The bottom line is to actively tackle the problem not let it continue to dominate your life. Yes, it can be a cheesy, over-used line in self-help circles but the bottom line is that you are worth it, you do have value. The trick is convincing yourself of that fact.

CotD – 3 of Cups (Arcus Arcanum Tarot)

Joy!  Overflowing!

Filling hearts and cleansing souls

Beloved, cherished friends

Readers’ Studio 2017 Wrap-up

So, it’s been almost a week since I returned from the fun-filled, eye-opening, networking event that is Readers Studio. As usual, there were some amazing moments and some sad moments, some silly moments and some profound moments.

I attended the Tarot & Psychology pre-conference this year. The presenters were Jayni Bloch, Katrina Wynne and Elinor Greenberg (Jenny Suzumoto was originally scheduled but became ill and could not attend). The sessions ranged from connecting Archetypal Portals (similar to the concept of chakras) to Trump Cards to Process Work and Dreamtime to Gestalt techniques and using Tarot for relationship work. I realized after attending several of the Tarot & Psychology pre-conferences that while I enjoy the workshops, they don’t always address what I would like covered. I usually do find useful tips & techniques in these workshops but I’ve realized that what I really want is techniques for crisis intervention (if needed) and practices that are more in line with life coaching than counseling. The truth is that if I had wanted to become a therapist I would have pursued my doctorate in counseling or psychology.

The main event of Readers Studio was three workshops – one led by Kooch & Victor Daniels that incorporated working with Tarot and chakras, one facilitated by Mitchell Osborn and one led by Ferol Humphrey. It can be very difficult to explain what one gets from these workshops so I’ll just provide a brief summary of my takeaway: the Daniels are very knowledgeable and have some interesting techniques to share; Mitchell Osborn is just awesome and Ferol Humphrey is a firecracker. Useful tips and techniques were taken away from all these sessions. The best part of the workshops for me was the foundation reading. My partner (the brilliant and dynamic Heatherleigh Navarre) was insightful and extremely helpful. I only hope I proved to be the same for her.

Now for the best parts of Readers Studio – the in-between stuff. One of my favorite moments was while I offered to help Joanna Powell Colbert set up her vendor table. She was already finished but as I looked over her art I felt drawn to purchase something. It was a very difficult choice between her Gaian Strength icon and her Elder of Fire icon done using an encaustic technique (I honestly have no idea what that entails but they were both beautiful). I ultimately chose the Strength icon because I love the image and the prayer included. I may still add the Elder of Fire to my collection. I’ve always found that image very powerful and moving.

My next vendor purchase was at Rachel Pollack’s table. I am inveterate collector/fan of Rachel’s necklaces. As soon as I saw her Sun necklace made of translucent Chinese amber I had to buy it. It looked like captured sunshine. As I was chatting with Rachel (I really don’t get to see her enough) she gave me a lovely necklace she made using the Samulet from Supernatural. The only thing I might be a bigger fan of than Rachel necklaces is that show. The acting skills of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester have kept me watching loyally for 12 seasons, even this one (which in my opinion has been mournfully disappointing). Rachel share my appreciation for this show and noticed my Samulet necklace last year (nothing special just the Samulet on a leather cord). She is such a generous and kind woman that she made me a spectacular version on a lovely Rachel necklace. It absolutely made my weekend. I think I actually glowed while showing it off to people. I wandered back towards Rachel’s table a few more times over the course the Readers Studio and her Lovers necklace kept catching my eye. The pendant was a reproduction of an ancient Greek coin with Aphrodite on it and a necklace with pink chalcedony and citrine beads. It was lovely, so of course I had to buy that too. What can I say – I’m addicted to Rachel necklaces.

I continued to roam vendor tables and found myself drawn to Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand. Despite my resolution not to purchase any more Lenormand decks, I couldn’t resist this one. The watercolor painting behind the images just called to me and I had to have a copy. Next I roamed by Patrick Valenza‘s table. I’m a long time fan of his Deviant Moon Tarot and found myself drawn to his latest deck – Trionfi della Luna. It’s a Deviant Moon take on Marseilles style decks. I tried to resist but his darkly quirky art just appeals to me and I added the Italian version of this deck to my collection. My final stop was at Rachel Paul’s table. I am a huge fan of her Dark Carnival and Sacred Bridges decks so it was great to catch up with her again. While looking at her wares a gorgeous necklace caught my eye – it had a RWS Empress pendant and a necklace of sandalwood beads. Naturally I had to add it to the stash.

Once my contributions to supporting Tarot artists were complete, I spent the rest of the event socializing and catching up. Diane Wilkes managed to make it up for the Tarot & Psych conference so we got to spend a bit of time together but not as much as either of us would have liked. I also got to see the lovely Sasha Graham for a few brief moments. My roommate this year was Gail Woods and I had a great time rooming with her. We both share an appreciation for tea and quiet time so there was some quiet bonding time. I made a few new friends – Mitchell Osborne, Al Jaurez and Bev Frable and reconnected with some old ones – Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells, Sally Rose Robinson, Jaymi Elford, Heatherleigh Navarre, Theresa Reed and Hilary Haggerty (who I didn’t recognize for almost a whole day because she is blonde now)

One of the things I realized this Readers Studio is that even when I don’t especially enjoy the workshop (and believe me I’ve been to all Readers Studios and there was only one workshop I walked out of ) I always take something new or interesting away from them. I’ve learned that whether one appreciates a workshop is very subjective. Certain presentation styles that I enjoy do not work for others and vice versa. Sometimes a topic might be very interesting but not something I like. Sometimes presenters have a lot of knowledge and information but just are not effective at presenting it others. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of courage to get up on the main stage and put yourself out there and anyone who has ever presented at a Readers Studio has my admiration for doing so.

One of the other takeaways I got from this Readers Studio is that whether or not I find the workshops especially useful, it’s the camaraderie, the in-between stuff and the bonding that keeps me coming back. Some of my favorite memories of this Readers Studio are:
Getting a beautiful Samulet Rachel Pollack necklace
Laughing myself sick during the banquet while Sally Rose shows me highly inappropriate toys on her cell phone
Singing “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles with James Wells and Ellen-Mary O’Brien and then clucking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Continuing to cluck various songs during the last goodie giveaway and certificate ceremony including a confusing moment when I thought I was clucking Pomp and Circumstance but instead was clucking Hail to the Chief
Winning a free 30 minute reading with Mitchell Osborn
The banquet show – which included some amazing performances by V and Jaymi. I’m impressed by V’s mastery of the hula hoop and Jaymi’s control of those light balls on cords.
Watching James Wells laugh as he watched Betty White’s “Muffin” skit on SNL
The absolutely wonderful and welcoming staff of the LaGuardia Marriott
Having Kooch Daniels come up to me and casually mention that I had been a witch in many past lifetimes.

I was very sorry to learn that this will be the last year at the LaGuardia Marriott. Apparently they’ve made some management changes and will be doing renovations so The Tarot School will need to find a new venue. I hope that happens soon because I’m already impatient to return to this marvelous event. If you can ever make it to a Readers Studio, I highly recommend you do so. If not, try to find a Tarot event in your immediate area, believe me the sense of connection and finding your tribe is more than worth the time, effort and cost.

Fear & Loathing in La TarotBroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildwood 5 of Stones

It’s another gray, rainy, gloomy day here in the lower Hudson Valley.  I decided to ask what I might learn from this grayness because we’ve had quite a bit of it lately.  Using the Wildwood Tarot I drew the 5 of Stone.  The card shows a child huddled in  cave tending a fire – alone and isolated.  Perhaps the child is engaged in a rite of passage; a vision quest.  That can be an empowering and deeply spiritual experience but I don’t believe that aspects applies to my question today.

The card’s reversed nature suggests that the answer to my question is the opposite of this.  Instead of isolation and solitude I need to reconnect with people.  I need to reach out and communicate with friends and loved ones.  It makes perfect sense because a rainy, grey, gloomy day is the perfect time to make a pot of tea and chat on the phone with someone.  I may not be able to leave the house but that doesn’t mean I need to suffer in solitude.

On another level this card may be reminding me that being solitary allows me to focus within myself and find the answers I seek.  I don’t need to leave house to engage in a spirit quest, I simply need to find a place in the house where I can carve out some alone time; some time to focus on me.  Of course that can be easier said than done but I do think it’s important to do in order to keep my spiritual fires burning.

Tarot of Prague Judgement

Sometimes I am amazed at the answers Tarot gives me to certain questions.  I decided to ask this one after watching a classic In Search Of episode about great lovers.  It focused on the fictional tale of Don Juan and the (possibly somewhat fictionalized) life of Giacomo Casanova.  In both cases these men are viewed as legendary lovers but when you listen to the tales of Don Juan’s conquests he seems more victimizer than lover.  He lies, cheats and steals to have his way with women.  No trick is too devious or to low.  When he is finished the women are often embittered and furious.  Casanova, on the other hand, seems to be a scoundrel and con artist in many ways but his lovers are left with fond memories and seem to bear him so ill-will.

Considering the very different styles and personalities of these two legendary lovers, I decided to ask Tarot what is love?  At it’s core, what does love truly mean?  Drawing Judgement in response to this question was surprising.  The card shows a winged angel with a determined expression in the foreground.  Behind him are several coffins that have been opened and their inhabits are beginning to emerge.  Three additional angels hover in the background offering their assistance.  Not exactly the visual I was expecting in response to a question about love.

Upon further reflection it started to make more sense.  Love, true love not the initial passion and attraction that we often claim is love, is about seeing our partners for who they really are and loving them anyway.  Real love is about constantly working to revive the relationship; to bring it back from the dead, and not lose sight of the fact that untended it will wither and die.  Real love may experience dormant periods but that doesn’t mean it’s dead, merely hibernating.  Real love is about accepting that sometimes we go through dark patches in our lives and when we emerge into the light we might need the support and love of a partner.

Romantic love is often portrayed as unconditional and never-changing.  In my experience real love is very conditional and constantly changing.  It morphs and expands and grows.  Sometimes we may think it has died but then something will reignite it and it comes roaring back in a wave of memory and joy.  I have found that sometimes those we love and who love us can be very judgemental, weighing and evaluating our behaviors and failure but loving us anyway.  Rather than wrapping relationships in rose-tinted gauze, real love accepts our flaws and screw ups.  Perhaps Shakespeare said it best – love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.  Real love is not perfect and flawless.  It is riddled with cracks and flaws but it endures; it is strong enough to face any judgments made of it.  In fact that may be part of the message here too – real love makes us strong enough to face Judgement together, powerful and enduring and not wilting under pressure.

There is a wonderful Twilight Zone episode called The Hunt about an elderly country man who loves hunting with his dog.  Before leaving he has a conversation with his wife, whom he clearly loves.  Their every interaction speaks of that love but they never say the words.  Instead they have this conversation:
Old Woman:  “Old man I never said this to you but we have endured powerful well over the years together.”
Old Man:  “Hmm? Nearly 50 years we’ve been married, eh? Come October 16.”
Old Woman:  “Long time to travel together.”
Old Man:  “Well, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
To me, that is real love.

Dark Carnival 5 of Duckets

This is the second time I’ve drawn this card this week.  I guess I need to listen to its message more closely.  Looking at the two “ghetto smurfs” (I love this phrase from the Gone in 60 Seconds movie) on this card the one thing that strikes me is that they’re together but not together.  They aren’t touching each other.  The girl has her arms wrapped around herself and the guy, with his foot wrapped in a bandage, is reading what appears to be an arrest warrant.  A 40-ounce bottle rests in the snow alone with other pieces of litter.  The girl seems to be glancing hopefully at a closed door nearby while the guy seems wrapped up in himself.  There is a loneliness and sadness to this card that goes beyond their apparent poverty.  They seem so isolated and disconnected from their world and from each other.  All one would need to do is reach and touch the other and offer comfort but their body language suggests that not going to happen.

It seems that as a society we are more disconnected and isolated.  Although we have perpetual access to each other via cell phones, text messaging and online social media sites, we rarely connect on a physical and human level.  How many people have hundreds of Facebook friends and yet would consider themselves lonely?  How many times do we yearn for a simple hug or comforting touch on the arm and instead we are offered a plethora of platitudes on Facebook?  I think this card serves as a reminder that all we really need to do is reach out and touch somebody’s hand (to quote the song).

I’ve recently found myself pondering this tendency in myself.  Over the years I’ve lost contact with many friends.  Some of this is simply the natural process we often go through as we grow and change, realizing we no longer share interests.  Some of if is because I feel as though I no longer have anything to offer in a relationship.  My world is so narrow that all I have to talk about is caring for the in-laws (okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement but not much).  I also have a tendency to feel as though I’m interrupted people’s lives when I call them. I think I need to make more of an effort to keep connected with friends and loved ones.  If they can’t talk to me then I have to hope they’ll feel comfortable enough to let me know.  Of course this says more about me than anything else.

On another level I think the reversed nature of this card is telling me that even though finances are tight and we are in a physically restrictive environment (we just don’t have the freedom to come and goes as we’d like), hubby and I do have each other.  We do support each other.  We try to give each other much needed breaks and work through our frustrations.  It’s not easy but we manage.  We may not be in the best shape financially but at least we are there for each other and care for each other.  Our shared experiences, even the miserable ones, have created a strong, enduring bond.  That’s the important thing right now.

Hidden Realm 6 of CupsHidden Realm 4 of Wands

The woman on the 6 of Cups is up to her breasts in dark blue water.  She seems calm and at ease.  She is obviously there by choice and in no danger of drowning.  Flowers float atop the water all around her.  She seems contemplative as though pondering deep issues.

The 4 of Wands shows a quartet of rather rag-tag musicians.  They seem to be engaged in an impromptu jam sessions for flute and violin.  I get a sense of untamed, enthusiasm.  They are channeling their creativity and in the process drawing us into this magical energy.

I was struck by two things as I looked at these cards.  The first is that the reversed 6 of Cups is reminding me not to get overwhelmed by the past; don’t let the negative emotions still lingering drown my dreams.  I need to gain some distance, the ability to view them as learning experiences but not let them still hurt me.  I need to be able to keep my head above the water and not feel like the water will soon be over my head.  What’s past is past and it’s time to move forward.

The 4 of Wands reminds me that I need to improve my networking skills.  The 4 musicians remind me that playing with others is always more fun than playing alone.  It’s a great way to improve my skills, trade ideas and build a support network.  In the past I’ve found it difficult to network.  It often required me to act more outgoing than I felt at the time.  I do love attending events such as Readers Studio but sometimes in smaller venues I have a hard time feeling comfortable.

My friend E-M has been hosting a gathering of like minded women at her house every few months.  The women share ideas, create vision boards and things like that.  They support each other and apparently have a lot of laughs.  I’ve manage to miss them so far.  Perhaps this is telling me that I need to cut it out and find ways to create this kind of energy for myself.

I think the difficulty is in letting my guard down and trusting.  In the past when I’ve created what I thought were support networks with friends (or at least friendly colleagues), I’ve learned that when the chips were down I could not count on them.  That hurt more than anything else about my firing from my last job.  I felt abandoned and as though once my usefulness to these folks ended so did our network.  That left a bad taste in my mouth.  I can use that experience as a lesson and find ways to be cautious without being cut off completely.  Otherwise I’m making things more difficult for myself than they need to be.

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