King of Cups with Ace of Swords

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Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

Someone’s parent or teacher or pastor or guidance counselor probably gave them this advice at some point: It was something to do with making clear logical decisions by setting aside one’s emotions. Yeah, I don’t know about that.

That’s all fine if you want to don a lab coat and tote a clipboard around (or is it a laptop these days? Probably a tablet, I’d guess…). Decisions devoid of an emotional influence are best made with control groups and data sets.

I am an advocate of making emotionally-based decisions. Before you start pecking at me like a bunch of territorial crows, let me flush this out: I believe how one feels about the outcome of a decision, paired by one’s truest desire, provides for the absolute purest compass for the direction to take.

I’m not talking about that kind of flailing-wildly-in-a-state-of-panic type of emotion. That’s what comes to mind for many people when referencing the idea of deciding by feelings. I would be so bold to say that fear and panic are more reactions than emotions. They are more byproducts of the klaxon of the adrenal medulla figuring out how to get the heart out of a box on fire. The ensuing actions we take due to panic are rarely based on any thought whatsoever during episodes of an epinephrine surge.

The clearest decisions we can make are the ones that trace directly back to what we want. This is actually the trickiest part, as our truest desire is often layered and stacked and dogpiled with several other subsidiary wants. Many of these are based on what we think we are supposed to want, gifted to us by cultural expectations, social mores, and all things obligatory. We will find many of these lesser wants battling it out, vying for psychological dominance.

At some point, we need to strip away all of the little wants that are in essence superfluous in the background of our true desire. We have to distill down to the single most emotional intention that catches that glint of light in our solar plexus. We have to identify what we want most as it is left standing on its own after clearing away all the emotional flotsam and jetsam, leaving only the purest of aspirations. It is from here that we make the best, clearest, and most focused decisions, and these are the decisions that yield to us the greatest growth and success.

 

The Moon with King of Cups

Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

My wife Jacque once worked with a woman who would frequently extol the virtues of how much of a “manly-man” her husband was. He was the quintessential hunter/leviathan-pickup-driver/beers-with-the-boys/did-not-believe-in-cooking-if-it-didn’t-consist-of-slapping-animal-meat-onto-a-grill kind of guy. I say that past tense, though he likely still is.

I believe she found great attraction in his predilection for all things rough and noisy and strong and tough and all adjectives that personify male hormones at their peak production from the masculine gonad factory. She likes her male archetypes unambiguous, with anything weak, fragile, and sensitive completely distilled out to leave a shot of testosterone that will put hairs on the copious hairs on your porterhouse pectorals.

Something tells me this manly man’s man’s man of a manly man has emblazoned on his resumé in lion’s bold face type Never cried a day in my life. It brings to mind a couple of lines from the song Leave the Biker by Fountains of Wayne:

And I wonder if he ever has cried
cuz his kitten got run over and died

In this society with its vestiges of heralding sabre-tooth tiger clubbing prowess, there is still a tendency to equate the outward emotional display of sadness with weakness. There’s still the male coaches’ inspiration via emasculation taunt of cry like a girl, while ironically I’ve met many females of whom you couldn’t pull tears from with a Bigfoot Monster Truck.

If we want to look at where non-aggressive displays of “negative” emotions are concerned in the arm wrestling between who’s tough and who’s weak, I put my money on the one whose mascara is running. There are no Herculean feats of strength demonstrated in the suppression of one’s sadness. There is only a demonstration that raw emotions are a scary monster that will consume us alive, rampaging through the skyscrapers of our psyche leaving only a quivering mass of destruction.

I am aware that this post appears to be chiding the “tough guys”, but I am addressing any of the emotionally stunted promontories of stoicism, resolute in their vows to not show weakness. This applies to those on both sides of the gender aisle. When we squash our sadness down into a tight, tiny ball and swallow it in hopes that it will surreptitiously make its exit through our descending colon eventually, we rob ourselves of the opportunity for rich self-examination and personal growth. Our unabated expression of grief and despondency is the irrigation of our mental wounds; it allows us to flush the infections that are born from the illusions of victimhood and guilt. To attempt to disavow our sadness is to deny an aspect of ourselves, cutting off the psychic blood flow to that part of our identity, causing a rich and valid part of who we are to inevitably necrotize.

Be strong, the stoic says upon experiencing the onslaught of the urge to cry. I say if we are truly strong, we will let the water flow and come face-to-face with that emotion that can feel so overwhelming. Strength is demonstrated through displaying our certainty that we will not drown.

Prince of Pentacles with King of Pentacles

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Raise your hand if you either are a Virgo or you know a Virgo…

Perhaps I’m delving a bit into astrology, but if you are not well versed in the character of sun signs, not to worry. You will likely know the type of person I’m about to describe here or you are that person….

I’m talking about those people we file under slow and steady, that embrace the adverb of painstakingly. They are the sort that will deliberate night and day over whether or not to take on an endeavor, darting their eyes back and forth as they build out their mental pros and cons lists, vacillating between should and shouldn’t enough to burn up the bearings on any pendulum.

Once they’ve dabbed their toe into the water six dozen times before deciding to move forward, they get hung up on making sure every microscopic minutia is in alignment, once they’ve spent the better part of the century calibrating their gauges. They get lost in detail like wandering through the Queen’s hedge maze, the Minotaur’s labyrinth, an Ikea during a remodel. Some-Omnipotent-Being-or-Beings-That-May-or-May-Not-Exist forbid they make a mistake. The crippling fear of the possibility of venturing into the ever-persistent human foray of error is nearly paralyzing, therefore every step taken is akin to carrying nitroglycerin through an eggshell coated field of landmines.

Blessed are the Virgos, for they shall inherit the earth sign.

I can’t imagine what they say about us Geminis…

Let me make this declaration, however… most of my closest friends are Virgos.

The intent was not to tar and feather my mutable earth sign brethren and parade them through the town square on the way to the stockade. Thank you for standing in front of the crowd and allowing me to use you for my display; you may return to your seat. The truth is that each of us can be like this in some form or another, on some occasion or at some crossroad. We get obsessed with making sure there is not a hair out of place before heading out to the dinner party. We waffle between ordering waffles or pancakes. We are unsure to keep working at Scylla with its great wage and ogre boss or go to Charybdis for a pay cut but in a pleasant atmosphere.

The truth is we get caught on a treadmill due to our fear of making a misstep. Indecision and vacillation is merely our way of swaying back and forth on a cozy hammock, nice and safe from any chance of err. We forget that success is carved and hewn from the rocks in the road we tripped over and stubbed our toes on. The structure of every great achievement has a wall or more that was torn out and rebuilt.

At some point we have to stop proofreading the paper for the nth time, searching for that chance misspelled word we’re certain must be there. We have to shrug, hit submit, then know we did our best rather than constantly redefine what is our best. The greatest mistake we can make is not moving forward for fear of making one.

Death with King of Cups

Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

A couple of days ago I was talking to a former coworker of mine who is a computer technician for another school district. He’s been trying to implement a new system for managing the computers but finds himself getting pushback from the field technicians. His goal has been to make this change as seamless as possible so there are very few differences between the old system and the new system. Some alterations are unavoidable, however, and it is those differences that the field techs are locking their jaws onto and digging their heels into resisting.

You know where in this scenario I find the irony? These particular folks who are demonstrating a staunch resistance to change are working in technology, a field that is rife with change. Perhaps these people would be better suited for a career in measuring the height of mountains or working for a feed store in a town with a population of 73.

One of life’s greatest paradoxes is the constancy of change. Not only is the shifting sands of circumstance beneath our feet a perpetual phenomenon, the occasional rip tide that yanks us off our course of comfort is inevitable. Sam Cooke tried to remind us of this unwavering truth in song, yet we all too often find ourselves clinging to the lamppost of consistency while Dorothy’s house whirls around us through the digestive tract of the tornado of major life events.

There are times we see the pull date of life-as-we-know-it approaching yet we try to freeze and preserve it in an attempt to make it last indefinitely longer. What is it about major life changes that awaken the Kraken of fear within us, even though we acknowledge that these types of change are inevitable? How many major life changes have we passed through up to this point and become all the better for having survived them? Yet we treat the next molting of our old way of life as an apocalyptic event.

Here’s the theory on this one that I’m going to offer up:  When tremendous life-altering events appear on the horizon, they are arriving in a timely manner. The current way of life we are residing in needs to come to a close as it no longer serves us, and on the other side of this upheaval is our catalyst for accelerated personal growth. I believe there is a part of us that is keenly aware of this impending expiration and the necessity with which it needs to come to pass. Yet despite knowing that this transformation is for our greatest good, we still wish to cling to the old ways, the tried-and-true, the way things have always been.

So why do we resist crossing that threshold? It is due to a lack of faith in ourselves. It is a faltering in the belief that we are greater than we realize, that we are well equipped to confront and tackle the new way of life. Fear of the unknown is essentially the ego’s fear of the dark, afraid it will not be able to navigate uncharted waters and will shred its keel on the reef of adversity. We prefer to dine with the devil that serves us dry turkey, overcooked green beans, and good ol’ mincemeat pie as we sit on folding metal chairs at a table no taller than our knees. We at least know what we’re being served at this meal and there are no scary surprises. We are secure in our disappointingly subpar meal that we have come to expect.

When the big changes come, we don’t have to be ready. We don’t have to know what to expect. We don’t even have to want to go through it or to even like that it’s happening. We simply need to acknowledge all the other major changes that have transpired in our past and that we were not only able to survive each and every one, but each provided a tremendous and rich field for our personal growth that we would not have had without the great change imposed upon us.

King of Swords with Queen of Swords

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Löesche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Löesche

It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence.
         ~William Carlos Williams, “Paterson”

Words have power. Tremendous power. Words have the power of lightning and thunder, of hurricanes and tornados. Words can carry the stillness of a cold winter evening or a remote alpine lake. Yet we take this power for granted all too often.

Let’s look at those spellcasting type of folk. I promise this won’t hurt. They might have their variety of magic-making accoutrement and paraphernalia, or don themselves with some kind of anti-name brand apparel or have something burning nearby, but the most common part of the ritual they employ is the use of words. Taking six steps to the side and through the door on the left we have the triumvirate of Abraham employing words through prayer, and the Eastern belief systems with their chanting. All these factions of belief systems know what words can do.

The thing about words is they often serve as the binding agent between thought and reality. There are no take-backseys; once you say something it is out there. It gets straight to work expediting solidifying the momentum of manifestation. You see, the thought process merely resides in the land of the Etch-A-Sketch™ where you can simply shake it if you’re not thrilled with what you drew in your thought bubble. But once you let that thought cross the oral threshold and get carried by the wind to the earholes of Some Omnipotent Being Or Beings That May Or May Not Exist you’ve pretty much lit the fuse.

There’s a reason Don Miguel Ruiz states as one of the Four Agreements to “be impeccable with your word”… that word is the scaffolding that manifestation uses to assemble the house of our reality. Nothing is said that doesn’t begin from intention. That sarcastic remark, that barbed joke, that dismissive comment… all those little pearls we cast off as cute or meaningless or not to be taken seriously were all designed to envelop that grain of truth to isolate the irritant of that said truth from the tender part of the inside of our shell.

Perhaps we may not consider ourselves spellcasting practitioners, yet we truly are. As we colloquially state how “sick of it” we are or how something is “a pain in the neck” (or “ass” for the more salty tongued) we are inviting those realities into our experience. We’ve put it out there and our inner god is shrugging and saying “as you wish” in the manner of an enslaved djinn. We may state that some event is an inevitability, that some unfortunate event is going to happen for sure, believing that we are reading some prophetic calligraphy on the wall, but we are actually the ones designing the outcome with our declarative statement while the Universe gets everything aligned to ensure it doesn’t disappoint our command.

Whatever our perspective is on Judaeo Christianity, they may have been onto something when they said “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” They talked about the Word before they talked about God! The Word is obviously big stuff, the Numero Uno, the CEO of All That Is. I’m not a big Bible guy, but I give them a nod on this one. What comes out of our mouths says more about ourselves than just who we are or what we think or believe. It is us in the process of creating and shaping our reality with each and every utterance. We become what we say, so we better be impeccable with each word we choose.

King of Swords with Ace of Cups

The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche
The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche

All too often the logical mind and the emotional heart can seem to work at odds during the process of manifestation. The intellect and the emotions have long been marked and deemed as adversaries to one another, with logic laying claim to the left brain and creativity, and the colorful offspring of the emotions residing in the right brain. Any coincidence that these cards came up on these respective sides?

Did Rodney King realize when he said “Can’t we all just get along?” he was referring to the Montagues and Capulets of the psyche?  Those who pride themselves on being highly logical and intellectual believe emotions bring corruption to clearly laid plans, to well thought out decisions, to carefully calculated options. They see decisions made based on emotions akin to a flailing water hose at full pressure.

In the meantime those who are moved by unfettered compulsion based on pure feelings see the Spocks of the world as cold, unfeeling, detached, and dispassionate. They wonder how they could truly be living when the flavor of every decision is distilled and filtered out in a sterile array of Bobby Fischer-esque moves.

The truth is these are highly complimentary aspects of the actions and impetuses within the manifestation process. By no means are they mutually exclusive of each other. When we see logic and emotions as working against each other we end up manifesting that which consists of one or the other, leaving us with either a technically sound yet highly unsatisfying end result, or a creation that lights us up emotionally but leaves a wake of destruction like a golem.

To see a richly brilliant outcome from the intention we originally set, we need to incorporate equal parts of clinical sound decision making with the fiery impulse of desire. When we find ourselves relying excessively on our logical mind, we need to add a bit of whimsy to the mix to give our endeavors pizazz. When we find we are making a series of emotionally charged compulsive moves without a plan, we need to stop and breathe, then categorize our desires by a logical hierarchy. Through this process we will find that logic and emotions are actually powerful allies that work incredibly in juxtaposition, which forms the true foundation of the human experience.

 

King of Wands

King of Wands
A king sits on a throne illustrated with lions and lizards, gazing to the left, adorned in vibrant yellow and orange robes

The wellspring of manifestation is desire. Before we can set an intention we have to have a desire upon which to set it.

Desire is not a calculable thing. Our wants cannot be carefully constructed. Desire is born of pure emotion, of feeling, of a draw and an attraction to something. It needs no words to describe it, it is merely felt.

We can stand in our own way of attracting a desired outcome into our lives when we lose ourselves in analysis, rules, and minutia, by over-calculating the origins, means, purpose, and function of what we are wanting to manifest. We need to return to the pure inspiration of desire that fueled the intention as often as we can.

We may be concerned that if we allow ourselves to fall untethered into the depths of our desires, we may be consumed by the fires of our emotions. We may fear that without a well planned and constructed safety net the gravity of our wants will smash us down into the hard pavement of reality. However, this dampening down of our impetus and impulse to grab that which we want can serve to bind and restrict us, rendering us immobile, preventing us from moving toward our goal.

Our passion for what we wish to attain provides us with tremendous fuel. It is the ignition behind the drive that allows us to punch through obstacles, most of which are constructed from our own critical thinking. We excel in our endeavors when we shrug and laugh at the possibility of error, when we know we can potentially fall flat, yet our desire is strong enough to move us forward despite this possibility. We will stand triumphant knowing that at the end of our journey , while examining each and every scar earned throughout, we will declare they were all worth it.