Page of Wands with Eight of Wands

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

One of my favorite terms ever, in the history of idioms and colloquialisms and in my pursuit of blogging hyperboles is pot committed. No, this is not a reference to an unwavering devotion to all things cannabinoid. For those of you that didn’t dive head-first into America’s love affair with televised high stakes poker tournaments at the turn of the 21st century, let me explain:

When one has become pot committed in a hand of poker, it means the player has already put so many chips into the pot that it would be essentially throwing money away to fold, even if the prospects of winning the hand are grim at that point. The player might as well see it through, hoping for St. Somebody to start dealing out miracles at the poker table.

I love that term, I bought flowers and chocolates for that turn-of-phrase, I have gone down on my nearly-fifty-year-old cracking and popping knee to propose to that expression because it paints such a picture of our cultural reticence. It’s John Wayne holding hands with Clint Eastwood as they swagger through the main street of the town that will fall under the category of ghost at the arrival of the telephone to tell us to cowboy up and see it through. You don’t walk away when you’re this deep in it, no matter how many leeches are nipping at your ankles.

You know what I say? I think it takes bigger bowling balls to tear the whole thing down and start over when you’re so far into it, when you can see the vending machine within arm’s reach. That dollar bill you’re holding looks like a Scotch taped Sharpei which it will spit out in disgust with each attempt to feed it to the machine anyway. C5 will taunt you and deny you that tiny bag of Cheetos, leading to even greater shirt-rending anguish. Go back to Start.

I once learned of an apprentice to a drywaller who would erect and attach and mud and sand a wall under the supervision of his master. The master would watch him as he worked through the entire process, only to tear it down at its completion and make him start over. Meanwhile we sit in the studio audience and boo and turn to the lady sitting next to us that we only met on the tour bus on the way to the show and say “that guy is such an ass!”, as my applause slices through the din of disapproval like a drunk Nascar fan during the death scene of the antagonist at the opera.

Why do I find the idea of starting over when we’re near or at the finish line so fantastic? I believe it celebrates the notion that time is simply not. Time is a paper tiger of which we’ve become absorbed in the suspension of disbelief, obeying its barking orders like a Private First Class. When we fold on a futile hand while being so pot committed, we are declaring our inexhaustible wealth of time. We are showing the statement to our Swiss bank account of unending moments stitched into one great tapestry of eternity. We are showing ourselves and the world that it is our time, and it’s ours to burn as we see fit.

One of the most beautiful examples of this is the dul-tson-kyil-khor, the art of mandala sand painting by the Tibetan lamas of Drepung Loseling Monastery. They spend days, sometimes weeks, constructing exquisitely colorful mandalas with millions of grains of sand as you see here:

When they’ve completed this gorgeously intricate work of art they then deconstruct it, allowing its vibrant beauty to only reside in the memory of its viewers. It symbolizes that nothing is permanent, that the value in creating this great work of beauty is self contained, that it is about the process rather than the attainment.

So whether we believe we are too far into anything to turn back now, or whether we head back to the starting blocks just before breaking through the tape, the bottom line is it’s all one big Etch-a-Sketch that gets shaken by the universe when we eventually make that final exhale. At that point we’ll be in the middle of doing something as it is.

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Page of Pentacles with The Chariot

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
~ Tom Petty, “Learning to Fly”

I love how there is a whole grip of New Agey books that want to tell you how you can manifest all the wonderful and shiny things into your life that heretofore you could only gaze upon longingly through the outside of the department store window. You know what I love about these books? They seem to omit the truth of the whole business of manifestation… that we constantly manifest.

Personally, I think the point that we are perpetual manifestors needs to be hammered home before we can talk about boats, cars, winning lottery tickets, vacations on islands surrounded by azure waters, stoles of some variety of small animals that are part of the weasel family, that one true hot burning love of your life, et al. ad infinitum ad nauseum.

The best way to consider this whole manifestation business is to put it in the same category as breathing. How interested would you be if someone came up to you and said, “Wanna learn how to breathe?” You’d be like, “Thanks, but I can already breathe. You ain’t teaching me nothing I don’t already know how to do.” If you’re reading this, you’re breathing. If you’re reading this, you’re manifesting.

The truth of the fact of the reality of the matter is that everyone knows how to breathe, but few know how to breathe most effectively. You can spend an hour breathing in very short, shallow breaths. Sure, you’re breathing but your oxygen intake and your carbon dioxide expenditure are not at very efficient levels to really do your cells much good. Yet how often do we truly inhale and exhale deep enough to exchange the waste gas for the energy gas in our bloodstream? For many of us, only when we pay attention to it and do it consciously.

Same with manifestation. We do it whether we are aware of it or not. Many of us do it rather inefficiently. We play the mental and emotional game of whack-a-mole as to what we want and don’t want, then we find ourselves in a set of misfortunes and oopses and why-do-things-never-go-my-way litanies. That’s us not paying attention to the source of our manifestations… our beliefs, thoughts, intentions, and desires.

Once we start grasping that idea that we do create our realities through the aforementioned sources, we get this idea that we shall create rainbows and butterdrops and gumshines and all things saccharin and cloying. Let me cluck my tongue and wag my finger and stop you right there. When we learn that we can focus on creating deliberate manifestations in our lives this does not mean there is only up and right and white and warm and light in our future. This belief will only drive us into a head-on collision with that box containing the down and left and black and cold and dark which we tried to seal with our pollyannic denial.

The first step to creating our desired outcomes is to acknowledge we create our undesired outcomes as well. The next step is to understand that these undesired outcomes are not as undesired as we believe them to be. If we want to do ourselves a big manifesting favor, we need to set our intentions and know that their outcome is a package deal containing that which we want as well as which we don’t. We need to stare the yin and yang symbol with its crooked smile in the face, order up a plate of sweet-and-sour and get ready to fly, knowing that gravity is just loaning us weightlessness.

Queen of Pentacles with Princess of Swords

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Are you a pleaser? Do you just want people to be happy?

I am most certainly one of these people. It comes in pretty handy as I work in the Technology Services department at my place of employment. I just want to make things work for people so they can happily go about doing their jobs. I want to solve their technological problems, be the one to apply the balm on their tech troubles, be the savior of their system failures.

I’m going to be honest here… with this compulsion to leave people smiling and dancing in whatever proverbial aisle they happen to be seated on, I occasionally forget to ask for what I need from them. This is particular to these situations when I’m providing a helpful service to someone. I really have to remind myself of this at times. I believe I’m supposed to rush headlong into the technological fire and simply put it out while the end users stand outside aglow in the light of the blaze and applauding as I come out of the burning building carrying their most precious files in my arms. “You saved my PowerPoint I created for my lesson plan six years ago! I don’t know how I could ever thank you enough!”

It doesn’t always work that way. I’ve been watching too many movies if I think it does. The reality is as any firefighter will tell you… people panic. They will stand frozen in a doorway with no amount of a life-threatening inferno being able to thaw them while you need to get them out of the way so you can go in and do what you gotta do. In my case someone may click their mouse button fourteen times hoping the frozen screen will respond to that nth magical click, like how the elevator finally arrives if you press the button the prerequisite number of times.

This is a call to all those innate nurses and caregivers and service providers and baby cradlers. We so want to just help that we forget to ask for what we want, to tell what we need. We are so concerned with our needs being secondary, tertiary, or even superfluous that we dismiss them at the time of service. We get caught up in fixing someone else’s problem that we empathically absorb their panic and compartmentalize and compress it down into the vault of our subconscious, only to have it resurface at the least convenient and most inappropriate time.

I guarantee whenever we are helping someone out, we have an immediate need. We need to communicate that need to those we are helping. We need to learn how to state what we want to those we are helping so we can provide them the assistance they need. Most often we can make greater headway by not merely accepting their emotions in a panic situation, but by instead having them decompress through asking them to follow whatever steps we are laying out for them. This applies well beyond fires and drowning, this applies to spouses in a state, to teens, tweens and preteens that go into an emotional state akin to a flailing water hose on full blast, or to a panicked pet owner who can’t find their loved companion animal. In every situation, those in need have to help us help them, and it is our job as service providers to communicate our needs to them so we can give them the assistance they need.

Page of Wands

Page of Wands
A young student contemplates the growth on a staff

In manifesting our desired outcome, the operative word is desire. Desire is what fuels the energy behind manifestation, it propels us into action.

As we travel on our journey toward reaching our goals, we can sometimes find the enthusiasm that energized us might wane, when our efforts begin to take the shape of repetitive mundane tasks, or of intense effort that becomes exhausting. When we reach this point we can find a respite to be quite necessary for providing us the opportunity to reset, recover, and recharge. The trick might be getting our momentum back.

The simplest and best thing to do in these moments is to call up the original desire, to focus on the thrill, the feeling, the initial charge of excitement that occurred when we first conceived the result we had envisioned. The respite offers an excellent opportunity for us to meditate on what it is we desire, allowing the accompanying enthusiasm to well up inside, enabling us to reconnect with the source of what incited us to want this particular outcome in the first place.

Fantasizing, visualizing, and focusing on our intention is not at all a poor use of time. It strengthens the desire needed to propel us toward our goal. The greater we can imagine it, the more detail we can give it, and the more we can connect to that point in the future when we have attained the desired outcome, the more motivation we will instantly gather toward our call to action. We will resume our course not because we should, but because our desire fuels us to the point that we move forward without even having to command ourselves to do so.

Page of Pentacles

Page of Pentacles
A young man studies a pentacle with focus which seems to have appeared in his hands

After setting our intention on what we want to manifest, the next step is taking action toward making our goals a reality. This is certainly more than just a “set it and forget it” application.

Once we reach the point of mastery in our endeavors we will see our manifestation come to fruition. Mastery requires tenacity, patience, and unwavering dedication to our goals. To attain mastery we need to not only take action, but we need to take repeated action, running through the same motions over and over until they become second nature, until they no longer require thought and concentration.

We have to be ready and willing to commit ourselves to a regimen that may at times become tedious. We have to actually reach the point where we are weary of having to take the same steps repeatedly, because on the other side of the feeling of being jaded with our practice is the next level of achievement. If we have not grown weary of repeated application of our efforts, we have not yet neared the point of mastery.

Mastery occurs at the point where we have closed the gap between intention and actualization. This can only be achieved through repeated diligent application. If we feel we have reached an impasse in our efforts we need to remember that mastery is often only one more application away.

Page of Cups

Page of Cups
A young man contemplates a chalice from which a fish emerges to look back at him

The true source of power behind our ability to manifest is our emotional energy. Learning the language of our feelings brings us closer to creating the outcome we desire most in our lives.

As human beings, we are perpetually manifesting from our emotional states. There are many times we find ourselves unwilling to accept this notion, especially when we encounter circumstances that we consider undesirable. As a result, we will consider external events the cause of our tribulations. It is easier for many of us to give our power away than it is to engage in the due diligence required to change the emotional energy that is creating our undesirable circumstances.

When we find ourselves in an unpleasant emotional state, we must learn how to trace the genesis of what awakens that state. This is most due to a conflict between how we see ourselves versus how we believe we should be. When the pain of self-examination becomes too intense we will then deflect the cause to an external factor in order to justify the hurt emotions.

If we can take a brief step outside of ourselves, even if only for a moment, we can give ourselves a better chance to follow the trail of emotions to its true source. By first allowing the emotions their true function by not denying their right to be expressed and felt we can stave off the immediate impulse to look for blame. This also allows us the room to provide compassion to ourselves and prevent a spiral of self-criticism. This approach allows our emotions room to breathe without the need to take immediate action in an attempt to make them go away.

Learning to understand the source of our emotions allows us to shift and channel the energy behind them into a more creative conduit that matches the outcome we truly desire. As we learn the language of our feelings this opens us up to trusting our intuition, which enables us to more naturally make decisions which foster the manifestation of our most desired outcome.

Page of Swords

A young man readies himself with his sword, looking over his shoulder for whatever might come his way

When we are creating the life we want, we are often bringing new energies into our life that weren’t previously there. To experience this new life we need to learn to live in this new way.

However, nothing new comes naturally or easily. It’s much like buying a nice pair of jeans. The jeans look very attractive there on the shelf. We hold them out and hold them against our bodies to see how they might look on us. We try  them on and walk about in them to make sure they are comfortable for us to wear, to make sure they are adequately sized for us, to make sure our movement is not at all restricted in them. Then we buy the jeans and take them home. But we still need to break them in. We still need to wear them until they reshape themselves to feel completely comfortable, to form to our unique physical frame.

In this way we also have to break in a new lifestyle, an new way of living, a new perspective on our own lives and the world in general. Once we bring into our lives that which we desire, we then have to get used to living with it. This is not without its challenges. Just like the new jeans, as nice as we believe we look when we are wearing them, we still tug and pull at them. We still wash them round after round while they are transitioning from the cut of the template to our custom form.

There are times we have to try new things that we’ve never tried before. We have to take new actions to move us toward the life we want. These actions may feel awkward and challenging. We might begin to step into our new role and be surprised that it doesn’t feel as wonderful as we had initially thought it might. That is because we have not learned to incorporate the new way of being into who we are, into how we define ourselves.

It is at this stage that we often will turn around, abandoning this uncomfortable newness to head back to what was more familiar, more comfortable. It may not have been our ideal, but it was known to us. We had already established nice safe routines in how to negotiate that way of living. We may not have liked some aspects of that way of being, but we had tools and coping mechanisms in dealing with those annoyances.

This is when we need to ask ourselves which we would truly prefer when we look at it with open eyes; would we rather be awkward but excited and on our way into our new lifestyle, or would we rather be comfortable, safe, but unpleasant? If we remind ourselves that the learning period is temporary, and as we learn to live in the new way it will become more familiar, more comfortable, but that it takes time. When we welcome the idea that there will be challenges, there will be missteps and stumbles, there will be obstacles on our way to the life we want, we can accept them as part of the package of positive change, knowing that we’ve earned that which we want through practice, and through courage to face the challenges we encounter on the way.