As the holiday spending season shifts into overdrive, I find myself once again almost devoid of “Christmas spirit”. Watching the chaos and greed at Black Friday events all over the country I am struck by how truly soulless this season has become for some people. Don’t misunderstand me, I like getting goodies as much as the next person, I’m just not willing to trample over folks to get them at a discount. This is truly nothing new. Even in the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street characters are heard lamenting about how commercial Christmas has become. Kris Kringle is seen as crazy and dangerous because he wants to help people. What does that say about us as a society? I suppose what it really says is that we’ve always been this way. The primary difference is that now the chaotic madness is televised.
At one point I decided to make gifts for folks on my list – personalized colognes, shower gels etc. That went over like a lead balloon with most of them. I also got tired of receiving gifts that were clearly choices made from convenience with no real insight into what I might like. Once again, not that I wasn’t appreciative but if it’s the thought that counts then what does it say when no thought was behind the gift at all? It can really suck all the joy out of the holiday season. Add to that the friggin’ political correctness bug that has infected us all. Happy Holidays is really not the same as Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Yule. Aren’t we grown up enough that if someone wishes us a happy holiday that isn’t our own we can simply smile and thank them or thank them and politely correct them? That certainly seems easier and less stressful than stepping on eggshells while trying to wish someone a happy holiday season.
I think the biggest issue that can suck the joy out of the season for me is its lack of spiritual focus. I may not celebrate it anymore but Christmas is supposed to be about honoring the birth of Jesus Christ the Christian savior not deciding what kind of video game the kid wants. I would even consider a family focusing on what kinds of cookies to leave out for Santa to be something of a triumph compared to the current topics of conversation – where the best bargains can be found. As if that isn’t sad enough, many of the crazed mob charging stores on Black Friday are primarily buying stuff for themselves.
In addition to all the seasonal madness that can quickly sour one on this time of year, the family responsibilities that limit me can become especially onerous right about now. I can’t even stroll through a shopping center or along the main street of the village without it requiring some major planning beforehand. Who would have thought that simply viewing Christmas windows would become practically impossible. Sometimes this entire situation leaves me drowning in self-pity and depression at this time of year. On the positive side, at least I have a choice. I can focus on what makes me miserable and sad or I can focus on what makes me feel happy and fully of joy. It’s all about where I focus my intentions and attentions.
So I have decided that in order to increase the sense of wonder and joy I feel at this time of year, I plan to savor holiday movies – from classics to some of the rather cheesy newer entries. Even when I know they’re unrealistic, happy ending holiday movies make me cheery. The fact is that I do believe in Santa Claus and always have. I enjoy the feeling of Christmas cheer that sprinkles over many of us at this time of year. I have signed up for a 30 Days of Yule ecourse with Joanna Powell Colbert. I will focus on the happiness I feel when I give someone a gift they will truly enjoy (rather than just a gift card or money). I will lose myself in the happiness I feel simply looking at twinkling Christmas lights. Rather than sink into the dark morass so easily accessible at this time of year, I’ll try to steer my course towards shores filled with tidings of comfort and joy. Oh and I’ll drink tea – lots and lots of warming, comforting tea! I hope others find themselves willing and able to do the same to keep their joy and cheer levels up this Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa or whatever seasonally appropriate holiday they choose to celebrate (or even if you celebrate none at all).
Starting today I am beginning my Dark Goddess labyrinth work with The Sun aka Sekmet. I have to admit to an enduring fondness for The Sun’s energy. Even from my earliest childhood I felt a much stronger connection to the Sun and daylight than I did to the Moon and nighttime. This is ironic considering I am a confirmed night owl but what can I say, I’m nothing if not inconsistent about some things. I have also long felt an affinity for Sekhmet’s energy. She is assertive, aggressive and energetic; roaring out her anger and affection with equal measure. This confident lioness could only be stopped in her destruction by blood colored beer. I gotta love a goddess who can only be slowed down by an alcoholic beverage.
To start off our relationship, I asked Sekhmet for a message and she sent me Blue Dakini/3 of Air. This goddess reminds me that in order for something new to bloom, I must excise what is dead and outworn. This is often a difficult process because there are times when what is apparently outdated and work out can carry great sentimental value. Although as I am learning, clinging to the past can often blind us to what promise lies ahead.
The appearance of the Blue Dakini also reminded me of another aspect of The Sun’s energy can be overlooked – the sun’s light is a purifier. It bleaches away stains and destroys bacteria. It’s a powerful source of energy, light and warmth. It is what allows life to exist on Earth. All of these are amazing gifts but they can also have harsher aspects. Too much light or heat can blind or dehydrate. Too much energy can be exhausting. If we destroy all bacteria then we risk killing off the good ones too. So it is clearly a question of balance. The destructive aspects of the Sun are essential and necessary but they certainly should not overshadowing its more beneficent ones. During the journey ahead I’m sure I will find harsh light shed on areas of my life I’ve preferred to avoid and at the same time once I clear away those hidden, shadowy areas I’ll be making room for more creative projects and radiant energy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Somehow, like a lot of people, I behave as though receiving help from others is a sign of weakness or failure. The current circumstances in my life have forced me to become better at accepting and asking for assistance from others. It’s still a struggle but one I think I’m starting to win. That isn’t my focus today. What has struck me when pondering this card and her message is that the one person I am lousy at giving to is myself. Oh don’t get me wrong – I can indulge myself with things like books, music and other possessions as fast as anyone else in our consumerist society. What I’m not good at giving to myself are the things I really need – time to myself, time to focus on my spirituality and health, and time to relax. It’s as though taking time off from my responsibilities is slacking. How the hell did this happen?
I used to be one of the more selfish people I knew. I had no responsibilities other than those to myself, my hubby and family, and maybe to my job. Not having kids left me a lot more free time than most to do whatever the hell I wanted. Of course I usually filled that free time with brain-draining TV binges and frequent nights out after work with co-workers. Mindless, enjoyable and ultimately unsatisfying pursuits to be sure. I was busy, sometimes frantic and stressed but I would have told you I was having fun. In retrospect I think I was trying to numb myself. What I needed wasn’t more things it was a sense of meaning and fulfillment in my life. That is what I was not giving to myself.
I have drawn Tsonokwa several times since working with the Dark Goddess Tarot. Clearly she is trying to give me a message which I haven’t been hearing – at least not clearly. Then yesterday I finally realized why she kept pushing me. Thanks to a wonderful mother who agreed to elder-sit for the in-laws, I was able to get away for a while and spend some time socializing with a friend. We didn’t do anything special – had lunch, chatted, shopped a bit, but I came home feeling rejuvenated and relaxed for the first time in a long time. It was wonderfully refreshing. Of course my mother was exhausted but she can head home and relax.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve been free of this vise that squeezes me on a daily basis that I didn’t really how much pressure it was putting on me. I thought I was doing okay but in reality I was draining the battery almost beyond repair. It took Tsonokwa appearing to me several times before the message finally sank in. Next tie I won’t wait so long before finding activities to help relieve the pressure and help me revive and rejuvenate myself. It’s not taking anything away from my in-law’s and it’s giving me the break I need to let me come back with a more positive attitude. Otherwise we’re all miserable.
This made me wonder why we do this to ourselves. I am under no illusions that I am the only person who deprives herself this way. Nor am I a saint or martyr. I am a cranky, stressed out, caring, occasionally deranged person who wants to do what’s right for my in-laws. Somehow what is right for me never came into the equation. It’s as though I just don’t matter and that’s certainly not the way I have ever seen myself. Clearly this is an issue that requires more than a blog post to resolve. I just wanted to put it out there for others who find themselves in a similar boat. It’s important for all of us, but especially for caretakers, to realize that caring for ourselvs is just as important as caring for loved ones. Otherwise we wake up one day and realize our head is in a vice and about to pop like a pimple. Let’s have no more of that! We deserve better for ourselves.
Thoughtful Thor’s Day: Where in my life am I frustrated? 9 of Cups, 4 of Swords + Prince of Pentacles R (DruidCraft)Author: TarotHunter
Today I drew the fid Ceirt. Erynn Rowan Laurie writes this: Ceirt, along with h-Úath, is one of the most challenging ogam feda. Its meaning of a rag or a shrub links it in my mind with the practice of tying rags to clootie trees in Ireland and Scotland as an appeal for healing (McManus uses the “shrub” or “bush” definition, while Meroney suggested that the word was translated as “a rag”. I found the connections between both of these suggested meanings useful enough that I have chosen to use both, though Meroney’s definition is probably not correct.). These trees are often found at sacred wells or on fairy mounds, and are significant for being very much associated with Otherworldly beings and energies that can be fickle and unpredictable.
The apple, on the other hand, is often associated with the Otherworld in its most positive aspects. In fact, one of the Irish Otherworlds was named Eamhain Ablach, the Realm of Apples. It is one of the favored mythological foods throughout the Celtic islands, not unlike hazelnuts. Found on magical branches and eaten in Otherworldly feasts, the apple looms large in insular Celtic myth.
The complex of meanings surrounding this fid often point to intense frustration and even self-destructive activity. When it comes up in a reading, be careful of sudden changes in fortune or capricious individuals. It’s associated with bad luck and with psychological problems, but because of its linked association with clootie trees, there can also be an element of hope to this fid that h-Úath lacks. In divination, it can point to a situation of poverty or illness that is temporary, or to setbacks in a person’s life or situation.
Misfortune, frustration, poverty, illness, and bad luck are part and parcel of Ceirt’s chthonic current. A need for caution or retreat may manifest here, reflecting difficult physical or emotional circumstances. You may be approaching a situation with timidity, damaging yourself in the process. Look to the surrounding feda for clarification of your situation. When dealing with difficult people, malice may be involved; be sure it is not your own. Be very careful that you are not acting as your own worst enemy.
Linked Concepts: Poverty, illness, fleeing, retreat, madness, insanity, ill luck without total loss, psychological issues and problems, the hope for healing from illness or madness.
So I asked Tarot: Where in my life am I frustrated? 9 of Cups, 4 of Swords + Prince of Pentacles R (DruidCraft)
So let’s see, I’m frustrated in having my wishes granted, getting some true rest and moving forward to manifest my goals and desires. Gee, isn’t that just grand! Okay I’m being facetious but the reality is that this is a pretty accurate description.
My wishes are fairly simply right not but not very likely to happen because I want my life back. That is just not in the cards right now. How appropriate that this fid is associated with frustration, misfortune and even madness because those words are an accurate description of how I feel right now. The lordly figure on this card seems to be celebrating his good fortune, surveying his wealth and gifts. I can’t do that right now. Not that I don’t have blessings (I do and I’m grateful for them). It’s simply that I can’t focus on them. It’s hard to appreciate the good things in your life when the frustrating, exhausting ones are more assertive.
The 4 of Swords points out that I’m frustrated because I feel as though I get no rest; not time to myself just to think. Meditation, study, even simply pondering life are difficult right now. I suppose it isn’t fair to say it’s impossible but it’s extremely challenging. I wish I had time to sit in the lea of a tree and think important thoughts.
The Prince of Pentacles reversed is reminding me that I’m frustrated by my own lack of progress. It’s one thing to be cautious and practical in one’s pursuits and endeavors. It’s another to be stuck in place and never move forward. I can’t shield or protect myself from what is going on in my life but that doesn’t meed things should stay at a standstill. That might be the most frustrating aspect of all.
I can’t say these frustrations are surprising. They reinforce what I already know. Assessing these frustrations with an impartial eye might help me figure out how to change them. I realize that won’t happen all at once but taking even a baby step will help change this dynamic and perhaps lessen some of this frustration.
These cards have also reinforced something that’s been bothering me lately – my tendency to avoid. I am starting to believe I’ve raised avoidance to an art form. I’ve always been a procrastinator. In fact throughout high school and college I was notorious for waiting until the last minute to complete assignments (unless I was working as part of a team). I always received good grades so the incentive to change this behavior just wasn’t there. My hubby used to joke that if I actually applied myself I’d have a 4.0 GPA. I just wasn’t that motivated to try any harder. AT my core, I think I’m rather lazy.
This laziness is a rut, a defense mechanism. If I don’t actually try anything then I can’t actually fail at it. It’s a ridiculous response to this situation but at the same time there is a certain logic to it. The problem with is that I still end up feeling like a failure. I am a smart, accomplished, caring and loving person. I can be funny and generous and I can be harsh and judgmental (in other words I’m perfectly human like everyone else). I need to find ways to motivate and inspire myself so that I break free of this rut and manifest the changes of which I know I’m capable.
I asked that Tarot one last question about this issue “How can I change this pattern?” and I drew the Prince of Swords. I need to harness my energies, make a plan and stick with it. Planning and follow through are going to be the keys to changing these frustrations. At the same time I need to embrace the messages I’ve received over the past few days about healing. I still have healing work to do on myself and I need to be careful not to beat myself up if things don’t change as quickly as I think they should. It’s a fine balancing act and one that will take effort and focus to achieve.
Oh brother – this is quite a positive message isn’t it? I’m not sure what’s going on with this deck but the messages it’s been giving me are not exactly encouraging. Of course I suppose it’s in the way that you view things too.
The 3 of Swords might refer to a sense of betrayal or feeling as though you’ve been stabbed in the back. Or perhaps what’s it reminding me is that even when I feel that sense of betrayal and pain it is my choice to wallow in it. It is my choice to decide to let it go and move forward with my life. This has been a continual theme in my life and Tarot readings over the last few years.
In this instance I think it refers to the fact that I feel betrayed by my in-laws. Hubby and I are caring for the mom-in-law and brother-in-law with no assistance from anyone else in the family. There is another brother and two nephews/grandsons who spent their childhood with the family every summer for years (their dad died in the late 70s). I don’t expect them to help in caring for the mom- and brother-in-law but it would be nice if they visited or even called once in a while to see that we’re all alive. My hubby carries a deep and abiding anger towards them that will never go away. To him what they’ve done is unforgivable. I’m simply disgusted with them and can see no time in the future when I will want them to be part of my life.
The 10 of Rods is the burden I carry. It’s the responsibility I feel to family and the obligation I feel to ensure they are cared for at home as long as possible. In addition I still have a number of other burdens that need tending: bills to pay and home repairs to make. It’s almost impossible to work outside the home and care for the in-laws. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I think the cards are trying to tell me that obsessing about these worries won’t make them go away and it won’t lighten them. Instead I need to find other interests and activities that will help me focus on more fun and positive things. Not easy but it’s worth a try.
Interesting that embracing clarity does not involve an overabundance of intellect, wits or communication skills. Instead it would appear that those needs to be become something of a non-priority for me. I don’t need to be in charge. I don’t need to be leading the class. I don’t need to be goal oriented and focused right now.
Instead, like the relaxed woman on the 3 of Wands, I need to take time for tea and self-care. Even if I can only dedicate 10 minutes to myself every day that’s better than nothing. I need to stop and enjoy those little moments I can steal for myself. It’s not about becoming king of the world, it’s about being happy in mine.
This past few readings have pointed out that even in my current situation I tend to be very achievement oriented. I’m so busy looking at the map and plotting out the destination that I never look up and see the passing scenery. These cards are telling me that it’s time to knock it off and enjoy the scenery.
There is season for everything. I know that in my heart but sometimes mine mind shouts it out. It thinks it can control things if only it can figure out the pattern. I may be intelligent and quick witted about certain things but those skills aren’t very useful to me right now. Now it’s times for me to start fully embracing and exploring my more heart-centered, emotional and nurturing side. Even after several years caring for the in-laws I’m not comfortable with that side of myself. I’ve tried distancing myself from it and using my intellect to build barriers. I guess it’s time for the barriers to come down and face some truths. That’s the only way I’ll truly be clear and not confused.
How can I more fully embrace who I am meant to become? The Wheel of the Year + Ostara R (BoS As Above)Author: TarotHunter
I was blown away to see these two cards appear in response to my question. I have the feeling that this particular line of inquiry is going to yield life altering results (assuming I actually implement the recommendations). Right now I’m up to my armpits in snow so the only exploring I can do is within myself. Sometimes that’s not the most exciting terrain to hike alone but I must say it does often produce surprising results.
Both these cards speak to me on two levels, one is the external “real world” level and the other is my internal landscape. The Wheel of the Year serves as a reminder that life is change. This cold, snowy weather will eventually give way to the warmer, rainy days of Spring. My life will eventually turn and I will find myself in a different place with different responsibilities. Right now I feel as though I’m at the lowest point I’ve been since childhood – broke and not really sure what to do next. The difference is that this situation is my responsibility. In childhood I had very little control over much of what occurred in my life. That isn’t the case right now. If I want to feel in control of things then I need to take responsibility for those things I can change. I think the Wheel is reminding me that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be changed – at least not at this time.
That is one of the challenges I’m facing with the hubby. He is a fix-it kind of guy. He truly believes that if we can figure out the right formula or actions we can change this situation. I know that isn’t the case. We’ve done what we can to make the mom-in-law and brother-in-law comfortable. I’m exploring external resources the might be available. We can’t change the physical realities of this situation. My brother-in-law is deaf and developmentally disabled. My mother-in-law is either suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s or something that looks so similar as to make no difference. She will not recover from this. The only release is death. I know that’s extremely difficult for the hubby to accept (hell, it’s not so easy for me to accept either). What makes it more difficult is that on a deep level we both realize that the most likely change to this situation will be mom-in-law dying. Not a pleasant truth to face. The Wheel of the Year is a reminder that “to everything there is a season”.
The Wheel of the Year also reminds me that if I want to fully embrace who I am meant to become I need to learn to embrace and work with change. I’ve been focusing on time management lately because my skills (never the greatest) have slipped so much they are nonexistent. Procrastination has always seemed so much easier to me because there were little consequences to letting go until the last minute. Even in school my grades were good with the amount of effort I put into it. What would be the point of spending more time on assignments when I was already getting great grades? I’m sure there reality is that I would have gained even more insight from the lessons had I done the work but sometimes my reasons for pursuing advanced degrees were convoluted and didn’t always involve acquiring insight. Sometimes I did it just to prove that I could. Not the most enlightened reason for doing things but often at the core of my motivation.
In my career I often had the same experience. With some minor bursts of effort and energy just prior to the deadline I was able to complete assignments that proved more than satisfactory to my supervisors. Spreading that energy and effort out over a longer period of time just seemed silly to me. Now I’m finding those patterns are holding me back. With no external pressure to force me to finish, I just keep procrastinating. I think The Wheel is telling me this behavior needs to change too.
Ostara (Temperance) is connected to the Pagan Sabbat celebrating the Spring Equinox; the time when light and dark are in perfect balance. Light will soon emerge triumphant, increasing slightly more each day after the Equinox but for this moment they are perfectly balanced. However this balance is hard won. The cold and darkness of the winter months does not give up without a fight. There will still be times when the cold is numbing and the darkness seems never-ending. However the light and warmth just keeps taking baby steps until the tide has turned.
I’ve read that Spring is not for the weak and that is true. Thinking of the rains and upheaval that precedes the shoots of new life bursting forth, it’s rather amazing that we survive it. This creates a crucible when all life is weighed and the necrotic parts are sloughed off. Having Ostara show up reversed for me makes me realize I need to take a hard look at where I’m resisting sloughing off necrotic cells. One example is my doll collection. For years I was an avid collector of Barbie and Fashion Royalty dolls. I found relaxation in redressing them, taking photos, making up backstories. Over the last few years I have found myself less enthralled with them. There are still many I will keep but I know it’s time to release some and yet I resist. I’m convinced that once I let them go I’ll rediscover my love for them. This indecisiveness paralyzes me. I need to stick with my decision and take the steps necessary to make it happen.
I have the sense that this ability to clear away the dead wood – old records, dolls, books, etc. is essential. Before I can embrace the light and welcome it back into my life I need to let go of these things so that I can actually see the light. Right now I’m so block in and weighed down by things that I can’t see anything else.
On an inner, spiritual level, I think Ostara is telling me that I’m not taking time for myself. Yes, my life is hectic and chaotic and much of my decisions are based on how my in-laws are behaving at the moment but I’m completely ignoring that I might need time alone. How can I weed through all these things I need to sort out if I never make the time? It won’t magically happen. I’m not Samantha from Bewitched; twitching my nose won’t organize and weed things out. This ties in with my need to get better at time management.
I think these cards are telling me that before I can embrace the person I am meant to become, first I need to make some room for that person in my life. I need to eliminate the old versions of me that are no longer necessary. New growth can’t happen until the underbrush is cleared away. Right now I need to focus on clearing out the underbrush, the overgrown weeds that are choking the vitality out of my life. Once I can take steps towards accomplishing this, I believe I’ll find a new life blooming forth for me. Right now my life is a badly cluttered room – there are lots of things lying around but I can’t see what I have anymore. It’s time to change that. Before I can pour magical rainbow energy on the eggs in my basket I need to be able to find the eggs.
What experience or feeling do I yearn for today? Queen of Swords R + 4 of Pentacles R (Hidden Realm)Author: TarotHunter
Protection and solitude seem to be my keywords today. The Queen of Swords reversed suggests that its time for me to sheath the sword a bit. Intellect and objectivity are useful tools to a point but they aren’t helpful right now. I think the weather. the situation and the sense of isolation are all wearing down on me. I just don’t have the ability to take a walk and get away for a bit. The snow has become a huge blanket coating the world and wrapping me in white oppression. I feel as isolated as the Queen of Swords is often portrayed.
Looking at Mama Badger on the 4 of Pentacles I get the sense of being sheltered, protected and secure. In many ways I’ve been playing Mama Badger and now I think I want someone to embody that energy for me. Her young are hidden beneath the earth’s protective layer. She guards them and tends to their needs because they are too defensive to care for themselves yet. If I have to be isolated and alone I’d love to be babied too (for a little while at least).
This reading also reminded me that I’ve never really been mothered in that way. It’s not my mother’s fault – she was hoping to find simple, unconditional love from her children. Instead she had me with my angles, attitude and vague air of judgment. I think my mother always felt that I found her wanting in some way; that she disappointed me. As a child this was likely true. The younger I was, the more certain I was of my correctness and more judgmental I was.
I’m sure I was something of a trail for my mother. I have often said that I have always known she loves me but sometimes she doesn’t like me very much and she doesn’t truly understand me. So there were often times I wanted to be nurtured but didn’t know how to ask and she didn’t know how to offer. The Mama Badger on the 4 of Pentacles brings this back to mind. I may yearn for nurturing, but like a badger I can be dangerous and off-putting if approached. So even if I wanted to feel protected and nurtured, I often resented the restrictions that came along with that.