TarotHunter’s Silver Bullets:

  • Branching out, exploring different options and trusting your instincts can aid you in your journey to your final destination – being able to manifest your goals into reality.
  • The journey is important and offers valuable lessons but remember that the end of one journey is also the beginning of the next.
  • You’ve achieved this set of goals, now where will your journey take you? Is your journey linear or a spiral that occasionally revisits certain lessons? Mastery of one lesson may not mean you’re finished. Refresher courses can be beneficial.

TarotHunter’s Silver Bullets:

  • To unleash new creativity & inspiration sometimes you have to clear the decks.
  • The destruction of outdated and unhealthy elements in our lives can unleash new energies and revitalize our lives. Once we tear down the distractions, we see everything differently.
  • You fire and passion in life might serve to ignite dramatic changes in others. Sometimes living our truth shakes up others’ world views and reveals a reality or truth they’ve avoided.

In defense of The Hierophant

I had a bit of an epiphany about The Hierophant the other day (I love when that happens). As I was looking at the card it suddenly struck me that perhaps many of the traditionally negative attributes associated with The Hierophant are because of our own expectations of spiritual authority figures.

Pearls of Wisdom Hierophant

When one considers the spiritual leader most often associated with this card is The Pope and when one looks at the history of the papacy and its abuses, it’s very easy to get a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not limited to the papacy; it seems to me that powerful high priests in ancient pagan religions created the same kind of negative attitudes. Whenever spiritual leaders acquire power (and mix in politics) we seem to see similar patterns develop. Consider this however, what came first the chicken or the egg? Is it that the types of people drawn to positions of authority (whether spiritual or political) possess character traits that cause them to abuse this power? Or that the demands put upon them by their followers force them to become that way?

I remember reading James Michener’s book The Source and one point he makes is that people get the gods they demand. Perhaps the same is true of spiritual leaders. When one gets passed the hype, at his core Jesus appears to have been a teacher. He used parables and personal examples to get his message through to his followers. He was not trying to force them to submit. He was just showing them a new way of relating to Yahweh and each other. Clearly that has mutated as his spiritual successors have acquired more prominence and power but did it have to be that way? What happened that allowed the papacy to claim such power over people’s lives?

I believe the sad but true fact is that many (of not most) people out there want to be told what to do with their lives. They desire a rule book, a set of instructions telling them what is good and what is bad; how to live their lives so that they will go to heaven. They want a clear map to help them find their way through this confusing, sometimes dark and often chaotic thing we call life. Lest it seem that I am picking on Catholicism (it’s just the Christian religion with which I’m most familiar), I see the same trend in various Pagan sects. How many high priestesses and high priests become de facto parent figures for their coven? How many find themselves besieged by followers (not coven mates) pleading “tell me what to do?” It drains them and in my opinion is the reason that paid clergy has become such a hot topic. If coven leaders are being called upon to service so many different needs among their co-religionists it leaves them with little time for anything else. It makes the idea of being compensated for their efforts seem reasonable. Of course my problem is that if I didn’t want to be told what do as a Catholic I certainly refuse to be told what to do as a Pagan.

Blue Rose Hierophant

In my current favorite TV show Supernatural there is an angel named Castiel. At several points Castiel is asked to lead the other angels. They plead with him to tell them what to do next. He tries to explain the concept of free will to them but they insist that they require his guidance. Each time he tries to guide or lead them things turn into a clusterfuck but is that his fault? He is trying his best to help his fellow angels because they feel unable to make decisions on their own. At the same time, Castiel is clearly not competent to lead them. His intentions are good but the results are not. Is that how abusive spiritual leaders are born? Are they initially teachers seeking to help querents, those lost souls seeking guidance, whose demands eventually push the teacher to make increasingly autocratic decisions?

The truth is that I don’t have the answers. I’m simply pondering this stuff and sharing it with whoever ends up reading this post. I guess at the end of the day all I can hope for is to raise questions in the minds of others; to find teachers rather than spiritual leaders. Maybe if we stop accepting or expecting that leaders (spiritual or political) have the right to ignore our wishes and requirements and tell us how to live, we’ll be able to create a better world. I remain eternally hopeful.

Hierophantic Spirituality

Witches' High Priest

Orthodoxy & fundamentalism scare me. Organized religion sends me running for the front door. There is nothing inherently wrong with believing that your way is the “right” way. In fact I can admire that kind of dedication. The problem arises when you also become convinced that your “right” way is the only way and everyone else should be doing things your way too. I admit to having a bit of an orthodox streak in my nature and I work at trying to avoid imposing my will on anyone else.  I will admit that there have been times I’ve taken an “it’s my ball and if we don’t play my way I’m leaving” approach to things. When it comes to spiritual matters I definitely prefer a more hands-on, less structured and orthodox approach. Unfortunately when humans come together in groups, orthodoxy and fundamentalism tend to erupt.

One of the reasons I avoid most group situations is because I have a cantankerous kink in my personality. The more people tell me the way I “should” be doing things, the more I feel compelled to do it differently. I blame this on my parents. One of the mantras of my childhood was “just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to”.  That stuck. I don’t see it as a bad thing but it really makes group membership challenging. I’ve tried several ranging from a small Wiccan coven (in which I lasted all of a month before becoming the catalyst for an implosion) to ADF, the Druid organization. In both situations there were elements I liked about the groups but ultimately their long term goals were not my own. In one case I quickly realized the group was a cult of personality for the high priestess/founder. In the other I realized the group’s mission to serve as ambassadors to the general public with regard to Pagan beliefs and rituals was counter my own nature and preferences. I have no interest in leading or even participating in public rituals.

I also have a knee-jerk reaction to the concept of Pagan “churches” or owning land to build temples etc.  I realize that for many people this is an opportunity to worship among a group of like-minded individuals in safety and privacy. I wish them well in this approach.  For me, this becomes a dramatic shift in priorities that will ultimately cause Pagan spirituality to go the way of Christianity, moving from a more High Priestess approach to a more Hierophantic one.  Once an organized religion owns “stuff” their priorities shift so that maintaining that stuff becomes paramount. It’s often slow but steady. It also tends to be a short step to creating a priesthood and establishing leaders as arbiters of what the right way is to do things. It’s a shift from exploring the hidden mysteries on your own (the realm of the High Priestess) to worshiping in a church or temple led by a priest (the Hierophant’s bailiwick). It doesn’t have to be a negative shift but it often seems to develop into one.

Hidden Realm High Priestess

Look at Christian history. Once the apostles got hold of things and made Peter the first pope, they began codifying what Jesus taught. They left out writings about Jesus that didn’t fit their views such as the Book of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. I realize these might not be “regulation” gospels but they certainly could be. They offer a very different and perhaps more honest view of who Jesus was and what he taught.  However these teachings threatened the legitimacy of the early church.  The Jesus of the gospels is open-minded and welcoming of all peoples but the Christian church quickly became codified and orthodox. If I remember correctly there were even arguments in the early church regarding whether Gentiles could be allowed to join.  Things grew increasingly worse once the church grew into the Holy Roman Empire. After acquiring buildings and lands from the collapsing Roman Empire, the Christian church took on a very aggressive approach to converts and trumpeting the “word of God” to any and all who could hear.

Tarot of the Holy Grail Hierophant

We also seem to forget that one of the reasons early Christianity appealed to so many was because the various Pagan traditions in Rome at the time had lost their soul. They became about right acts and public observances. Many Roman citizens paid lip service to the gods by offering sacrifices but they held no true belief in their hearts. It’s as though codifying and establishing orthodox practices sucks the life out of spiritual paths. The idea of Pagan “clergy” also bothers me. I am in no way trying to condemn other people’s choices, but for me clergy sends the message that I need someone to function as an intermediary between me and my gods. It also seems like I’m being told these folks know more or are better trained to do this work than me. That irritates me. It also creates a class system in Paganism, whether intention or unintentional. Humans have a tendency to lend more credence and weight to words stated by someone with a degree of some type. It doesn’t seem to matter if what they say makes sense. The fact that the speaker has a jumble of letters after his/her name makes their pronouncements more valid to others. Down this road always seems to lie dragons of some type.

I realize that many of us seek out groups that share our spiritual beliefs because deep down we want to be sure we’re doing it “right”. We don’t trust our instincts or our connections to the gods. We want a leader, a priest or priestess to show us the “correct” way. I suppose for some folks that is great but to my mind that path leads to the same trajectory that Christianity and various Pagan traditions before it followed. The harder we try to establish ourselves as legitimate in the eyes of others, the quicker we lose our connection to the divine. We find ourselves jumping through hoops created by some external authority with little understanding of who we are or what we do in order to be validated and legitimized. I say fuck it! We do we need to meet some arbitrary guidelines created by outsiders. Instead of pursuing accreditation according to their terms I’d rather see us continue to do things our own way. Unfortunately I don’t think that will last. I may not live to see it but I have no doubt that it’s the end result of trends like paid clergy, tradition neutral training programs and the purchase of “church lands”.

Hermit – Blue Rose Tarot

Blue Rose Hermit

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: The Hermit archetype makes its appearance at the time it is needed the most by our Fool. The diversion from the distractions of the outside world is utterly necessary, for the teachings of the Hermit are loudly silent. In order to perceive these lessons, we must use our inner senses, for the teachings of the Hermit encompass visions that cannot be seen and sounds that cannot be heard. And the ultimate task for any Fool is to first develop the ability to perceive the lessons, then understand their messages and finally, assimilate that knowledge deep within his psyche so that they travel as an intricate and essential part of him as he walks back to his Chariot – ready once again to enter life’s highway and continue on with his journey.

And this time, that intense, fiery blue core, representing the fusion of his material, spiritual and emotional beings, burns brightly and steadfastly within him.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card symbolizes the enlightenment and gateways to new landscapes that we can find if we focus our energies within. But it might not be an easy process. Sometimes we might feel that we are going on the road to nowhere. Other times we might feel overwhelmed and as though we are being swept away by it all. But the bottom line is that if we look within ourselves, and are willing to do the work, we can climb the path to wisdom and self-knowledge. We can explore these inner landscapes and learn to see the beauty in solitude.

It shows us not to fear being alone. There is a difference between aloneness and loneliness. The Hermit represents having the inner serenity and strength to seek this kind of inner knowledge. One of the things that has occurred to me in considering the various Hermit cards is that shining light into the darkness that can be our unconscious, our id, our deepest, darkest depths, takes a strength of will and determination that many of us may not realize we have. The Hermit is not only willing to shine his light on this side of human nature, he also has gained the understanding and wisdom to accept it and not judge it harshly after the fact.

The Hermit is about seeking this inner knowledge so that we can better understand ourselves. In some respects The Hermit is similiar to a psychologist or other counselor. He or she is able to delve into the depths of the human psyche to bring forth the healing light of inner knowledge and serenity, while still being able to resist the tendency to write off humanity. The Hermit helps us face both the best and the worst in human nature and gives us the wisdom and knowledge to face these extremes and keep moving forward.

Blue Rose Hierophant

Blue Rose Tarot
Designed by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance

The Book says:  The Hierophant helps us build a bridge between the physical and spiritual planes.  He is the Holy Teacher like Moses, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao Tze, and Confucius among others.  “The are our guides, our wisdom teachers.  They are essential.

They are a gift from the Universe.

The High Priestess and Hierophant work in concert to assist us in achieving our spiritual goals.  They provide the foundation for our spiritual journey.  The mysterious and at times unfathomable, nature of the High Priestess is tempered by the orderly assistance of her consort.

In essence, the High Priestess gifts us with the intuition and inner vision to perceive the spiritual plane.  The Hierophant helps us draft our intinerary, draw our roadmap and provides us with teh tools, techniques and rituals to keep us focused enought to keep the goal in sight and complete the journey.”

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I have to admit that I absolutely adore this card. Something about it speaks to me of ancient wisdom being passed on in a somewhat furtive manner. The students both seem female to me (I may be wrong) and the fact that they are seeking the knowledge possessed by this scholar seems both empowering and brave. After all in many of those cultures, even know, women are not permitted to know this secret wisdom. But they are defying the rules to find their path to divine knowledge.There is something rich and wondrous in this card. The scholar seems so focused on his books that he seems almost unaware of the women, but they are obviously enthralled by what he represents.

This card represents ancient wisdom, lore and knowledge that has been passed on for generations; and an almost unquenchable thirst to learn and to absorb. The old scholar seems to exude knowledge, wisdom and secrets. He also seems to be dedicated and might be short with those who aren’t serious in their quest. He will help you find the secrets hidden in the ancient texts but he will not tolerate frivolous pursuits. He is only interested in helping if you are serious about your quest. This card does show some of the patriarchal connection we often see with the Hierophant. But at the same time I get the feeling that he loves this knowledge too much to hoard it. He will share it but only if he is convinced that the seeker will be as dedicated and passionate as he is. He will serve as the guide, but only for the serious seeker.

When I first joined ADF I didn’t understand their belief in orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. What you believed wasn’t as important as what you did?  This confused me – how could I follow a ritual in which I didn’t believe? For a long time this was something of a sticking point for me. It didn’t make sense; didn’t feel right. In the past year or so I’ve finally come to understand what they mean (or at least my take on what that means)

How many times have I claimed to believe in something but my actions would seem to belie that claim. It would be the same as a union employee buying non-union products. If I were a union employee then wouldn’t I want to support other union employees? If I believe in freedom of religion and separation of church and state then I should make sure I don’t patronize businesses that try to blur those lines. Sometimes this is not a clearcut area such as the recent issue with Hobby Lobby violating the Affordable Care Act by refusing to cover women’s contraception. On the one hand as a privately held, family-owned company I respect Hobby Lobby’s desire to enact policies that support those beliefs. At the same time I do not believe employees should be denied certain protections because of the owners’ religious beliefs. Not an easy call to make (although I will admit to usually coming down on the side of the employee).

Having said that, while I might mock Hobby Lobby’s Christian bias, that has not stopped me from shopping there in the past. To be honest I admire the fact that they are so upfront about their beliefs. There is a sign right on the entrance to the store I’ve visited that clearly states they are closed on Sunday so their employees can worship with their families. If I am apposed to their beliefs then I shouldn’t shop there. If I do then I am giving lie to what I’ve stated I believe as well as supporting a company whose practices I dislike.

That example might be a bit convoluted. I wrote it and I’m not sure how clearly it expresses what I’m trying to say. I guess at it’s core orthopraxy is putting your money where your mouth is while orthodoxy can easily become nothing more than paying lip service to something. I can claim to believe in anything but if my behaviors don’t follow suit then my beliefs are so much hot air.

If I claim to be against racism and prejudice but laugh at jokes that rely on ethnic slurs and stereotypes what am I really showing the world? If I claim I am a Druid (or Wiccan or whatever) but never actually attend or conduct rituals or engage in any sort o spiritual practice then am I really a Druid? It seems to me that I’d really be some sort of poseur. To be perfectly honest I haven’t been very orthodox or orthoprax lately. That is something I plan to change. In a perfect world I would act “right” and believe “right” but right now all I care about is living “right” – at least right for me.

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.

09 Spirit World Queen of Swords

As soon as I saw these cards I realized they were telling me that I needed to take some time alone and look at things I might have been avoiding.  I also needed to keep my wits about me but sheath my tongue.  Lately I’ve been sniping at people and being fairly bitchy.  Obviously this is not the most helpful way to handle things.

Looking at this Hermit I am struck by the sense that he is searching for his spiritual truth and is being guided by a divine figure.  He is exploring new spiritual pathways that haven’t been systematized yet; finding his way through ancient pathways that haven’t been co-opted by the mainstream.  The Hermit prefers living in the liminal – areas that are still somewhat untamed and unexplored.  It can be lonely and isolated by it also allows him to live his truth; to be genuine to himself and his spiritual path.  I often find that once any spiritual practice becomes mainstream (such as Pagan groups purchasing land and acquiring dogma), I start to walk in another direction. The road less traveled suits my soul much better.

The Queen of Swords reminds me that I can be smart, sharp, intelligent and witty but that doesn’t mean I need to be sharp-tongued or bitchy (and believe me I can be both quite successfully).  This Queen is guided by the angelic figures in the mirror.  They remind me that sometimes I need to take a look at myself and see if I’m being the best me I can be; am I using my smarts for good instead of evil?  Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no.

Overall this reading continues to reinforce the concept that intelligence alone is not going to help me in this situation.  I may sometimes feel isolated and lonely but much of this journey is one I have to make alone because it’s about mapping my internal landscape.  That is not something others can do for me.  I may seek some guidance and advice but the path has to be one I choose and the journey will end up being completed alone.

10 of Stones (Greenwood & Wildwood)

 

The sense I got from this card today is that it is important to focus on the home place and family issues.  The house at the center of the card has a road leading to it and a large tree (oak?) growing from its center.  This speaks to me on two levels – one is very basic and reminds us that the home is where the heart is and is at the center of our world.  The other is how many ancient cultures looked at trees – as pathways to connect with the Otherworld; with the gods, the spirits and even the dead.  The tree could often serve as a shamanic roadway that allowed the shaman to travel to the other worlds and work with those energies to serve his tribe.

So there is a two-fold message for me today.  The first is that I need to focus on my home and family life.  Finding a way to create a “happy family”.  Of course this is often easier said than done but the reality is that my  happiness is in my hands.  I may have to deal with challenges that are occasionally overwhelming and severely limit my options and freedom, but that doesn’t mean I have to let them make me miserable.  I also know that I need to focus some energies on getting my physical environment in some semblance or order.  The clutter and chaos is getting too disruptive.  I’ve been slowly but surely getting rid of books I no longer need and I’m sure there are other things around the house that can be released.

I also think this card is reinforcing messages I’ve previously received about reconnecting with and establishing some sort of spiritual practice.  Unfortunately I’m as observant a Druid as I was a Catholic.  That needs to change.  Perhaps I need to get my physical space in order first so that I can get my spiritual space to bloom and grow.

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