Three of Swords with Queen of Pentacles

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At some point in our lives… actually, at several points in our lives, we will hurt. We will feel loss or betrayal or heartbreak, maybe heartache. Sometimes it’s quite literal pain, the klaxon of neurotransmitters doing their job to warn the mind of our physical welfare being compromised.

Funny how we deal with these different aspects of pain in different ways, although in the simplest of terms, pain is pain. Pain hurts. When it comes to a cut or a burn we’ll readily bandage it or ice it, with fleet of foot reaction and response. Yet for some of us it gets a bit grey as to how we deal with physical pain that’s not visually discernible. Perhaps we tell ourselves it will go away soon enough. In many cases we’ll slip ourselves an analgesic and bypass the option of examining the cause of the pain.

Then we get to emotional pain, which may be the trickiest of them all. This is where all the crazy-making occurs. We may deny we’re hurting. We may suffer our sufferings, wanting the heartache to simply go away. We might put on our best game face or pull up our big girl panties or nut up and soldier on, believing we are bigger than the personal ache. We may even lash out at every and anyone that crosses our path.

In all actuality, the healthiest thing we can do is regard emotional pain the way we would address physical pain. For this example let’s consider a pain which has as its source some physical trauma. The pain serves as an immediate identifier of the source and location, we then apply a bandage or ice or some other appropriate treatment to mitigate the injury and prevent the damage from exacerbating.

With emotional pain we all too often try to push it away. We don’t seem to regard psychological hurt and trauma as serving as a warning the way we do the throb of a cut or burn or sprain. Physical pain is an indicator that a part of our body needs to be addressed and rebalanced. Emotional pain actually serves the same function, but it is pointing out the part of our life that needs to be redressed.

Just like our body cannot begin to heal until we’ve treated the trauma, nor can our mental hurt and emotional injury heal without addressing the traumatized area of our life. The best thing we can do is to acknowledge the pain, look it square in the proverbial eye and own it. We need to see our heartache as serving a function, as a way of asking us to examine the source of the pain, to be okay with the emotional discomfort and anguish even though we may despise it.

Emotional trauma is one of our greatest teachers when we allow it to do so. As long as we acknowledge it we can let it be our vehicle for something rewarding on the other side. If we continue to try to push it away or force it to abate, it will persists and mitigate our healing. We don’t have to like it, we just need to accept it and it will serve us in a positive way that may seem contradictory, but is profoundly healing.

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Influences on 2016

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Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

Is this another one of those what’s coming in the year ahead readings? Yes with an ifNo with a but…

If you are one of the wonderful listeners of our podcast Menage a Tarot then I’m sure you’re already aware I don’t care to do predictions with the Tarot. If you do not or have not listened to our podcast… you know now.

I see Tarot as a way of seeing the influences that are floating around in the air of probability like dust particles dancing in the sunlight through a window. There are energies that create eddies of influence based on the culmination of current events, the way the amount of traffic on the road or a Miley Cyrus song on the radio can influence our mood. I don’t believe anything is set in stone, though I do believe a train can be headed in a certain direction that will be tricky to stop or redirect at it’s current speed.

Okay, enough of the disclaimer. Here we go.

Eight of Wands – 2016’s energetic influence

2016 is the year when we see endeavors come to their fruition, when imminent closure becomes the word of the day, when we are close to saying we’ve arrived. This may be things we’ve been working on for a few months or several years. Even if we don’t see definitive endings in this year we will certainly see the signal that things are wrapping up soon.

Karma – mid March to mid June (spring)

The roosters are coming home to roost. Or is the chickens? The chickens are coming home to roost. I suppose because chickens roost rather than roosters? You’d think roosters roost based on their name. Maybe they do. What do I know, I grew up on a block with a cul-de-sac.

Spring of 2016 is when the piper comes around and asks for his check. Events come around that make us say “Did I deserve this?” Good or bad, up or down, whatever big chunks of circumstance that come around seemingly out of nowhere, it’s the universe’s justice system meting out sentences. Whatever groundwork we laid in 2015 or even further back based on how we treated others or the decisions we made and actions we took will pop up out of the ground or fall from the sky during this time. Even if the reaping doesn’t readily occur we will see the chickens on the horizon heading back this way to settle into the coop, whether we’re ready or not. Nonetheless it has to occur to create the energetic space for the rest of the year ahead.

The Lovers – mid June to mid September (summer)

This time of year will present a nice ripe opportunity for us to get our big projects and endeavors wrapped up, to finally see our plans come to fruition. Now here’s the caveat, because there’s always a caveat and nothing is free: These plans won’t just fall into place. They need to have a safe place to land. That means that we need to have our house in order. We need to lay out the logistics with our head and find inspiration and enthusiasm with our heart. Nor can we attempt to stamp it finished without getting the one person closest to us to sign off on it. Without the approval, cooperation, and accompaniment of our bestie, the wheels will never touch ground and our plans will simply become carrots on sticks.

Queen of Swords – mid September to mid December (autumn)

If we paid attention in the summer and found completion with our closest advocate in some manner or another, we will have the clarity and strength to wrap up the self-work that is due as we roll into the autumn. There will be a particular type of fullness that we will have attained through traveling to the end of a given road abreast with our number one ally, which is just what the witch doctor ordered to ready us for finishing up our solo endeavors. If we brushed them off during the summer and told them we’d meet them in the fall to complete our plan, we will find them absent as the cool air drifts in with the falling autumn leaves. We won’t find ourselves going it alone, we will find ourselves going it lonely.

Seven of Wands – mid December 2016 to mid January 2017 (winter)

If we haven’t found closure or completion by the time winter comes around, it will be that much harder for us going into it. The heaviness of the cold season with its short days will add another 50 pound bag of flour to our load in getting things wrapped up. The naysayers will seem to come out of the woodwork and they’ll have their tongues cocked for clucking and their mighty pen-swords armed for trolling our efforts. All our energy will be spent fending off energetic saboteurs rather than completing what should have been done well before Old Man 2016 was delivered last rites. We will carry our unfinished endeavors into 2017 like returning home with suitcases full of luggage to unpack from a canceled trip.

What has been in play in 2015 will get a neat little bow in 2016, or it will throb and pulse in our vista until we give it the attention to enable it to culminate into whatever finale it is yearning to reach. We need to either let them finalize or willfully stitch them up. We can only carry into 2017 the endeavors which we began near this new year’s end, as this is the year the window on our long standing plans will close.

Queen of Cups with The Tower

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Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Several days ago I decided to whack at a hornet’s nest with a pencil metaphorically. I climbed into the den of honey badgers otherwise known as the comments section on a political Facebook post. Armed with my chosen weapon of presumptuous arrogance I decided to adroitly illustrate the lack of compassion of the people who held a perspective in contrast to my own.

Somehow in my self-righteousness I forgot the adverse effect of telling a person who is politically moved that they don’t give one-tenth of one percent of a shit about people and their well being. Most people take a particular political, ethical, social, or moral stance on a matter because they believe their view aligns with what they believe is best for the society at large. So after shaking the hornet’s nest like a meth head with a Magic 8-Ball I watched what started out as what originally barely passed for a discussion disintegrate into my debate mate slinging poo ladened ad hominems like chimps behind bars.

Shy of imprisoned apes I cannot defend nor condone the hurling of misplaced epithets in the form of insults, derision, and name calling. Granted, I did shove my No. 2 pencil into the paper thin side of the hive. I made my statement, and as I firmly believe, no one says anything without an underlying intention. We choose the specific words we extricate from our minds with a specific purpose, with a desired effect. Often that effect is the intent to shape and contort the perspectives of other human beings to either match our own or to deter them from maintaining theirs. Our emotional fervent blinds us to the fact that we are running on the treadmill of futility.

My mother on many occasions would offer me morsels of sage advice based on her own experiences. She wanted to spare me from traversing the landscape of error-strewn regrets that she had stubbed her toe on along the path of her past. My father, on the other hand, never gave anything resembling advice that wasn’t wrapped in an off-colored joke. His philosophy was that mistakes were the great Socrates, that wisdom was most purely imparted through trials and tribulations, the semester’s final in the form of a hard knock from the school of the same name.

There’s a strangely beautiful balance in that approach to watching people walk toward the field of landmines. The danger of the protective coddling, repeated warnings, and the unending doling out of unsolicited advice is that it sends the message that we do not have faith or confidence in others we think are making mistakes in being able to learn from them. Our warnings on how wrong people are in their perspectives also renders us unable to recognize that their truths are valid for themselves, no matter how ludicrous they may seem to us.

At the same token to shrug and say let them learn the hard way does in no way shape or form let them know we care and that we are concerned for their future, their successful outcome, and their well being. While the parent of the Millennial approach of over protection and insulation sends the message of a lack of trust in their ability to survive mistakes, the throw them in the lake and they’ll learn to swim approach almost conveys an indifference to whether or not they survive.

Challenging another’s perspective or process is in essence the hostile form of giving unsolicited advice. When engaging in a sharing of personal or political or ethical opinions, we would do best to find the precise wording that conveys our perspective without condescending or attempting to invalidate the opinion of an opposing party. This provides those within earshot the choice to either bank or dismiss our opinions. Some lessons can only be learned through trial by fire. We must allow people to walk through the flames if this is what they choose and be there to help them heal on the other side.

Queen of Swords with Nine of Pentacles

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

I truly enjoy being a man. I can’t put my finger on what it is I enjoy about being a member of the member gender, but I like it.

Having said that, my hat goes off to women. As a gender, I find women endlessly fascinating and amazing and captivating and intriguing.

Reality tv would have us believe that women have a propensity to be undercutting and cutthroat with each other. However, when women team together around a common cause they form an impenetrable and effective force that operates like a singular mind. It makes male bonding look like Red Rover played against a wall of wet toilet paper.

As much as I enjoy being part of the clunky blocky gender, I know we are the utilitarian half of the species. At the risk of genderalizing (see what I did there?) we are built to build. We are the beasts of burden. We pull the cart and the plow of daily living. Don’t misunderstand me; that’s not to say that women aren’t capable of being builders and workhorses. Not only are they capable, they can do it while juggling a myriad of tasks and responsibilities and projects and duties. If we men tried to do so, we would collapse under task #3, whining and complaining about how overloaded we are while instantly coming down with a debilitating head cold.

Am I saying that women are all around better than men? Many women would say yes. Many men would be afraid to say no. I am not at all saying that one gender is inferior to another or any of that. What I will say, is where women excel and men fall short to genderalize once again, is in balancing the archetypes of gender within themselves. Women do it so seamlessly and effortlessly they often aren’t even aware they are doing it.

Let’s briefly look at the archetypes of masculinity and femininity so I can more easily drop my point on your big toe: the masculine principle is about outward expression, drive, strength, hardness, aggressiveness, left-brain analytical. The feminine principle is about nurturing, compassion, empathy, softness, right-brain creativity. Women will easily embody their masculine side through being driven, aggressive, determined, tenacious, and strong while not feeling like their femininity has been compromised. Meanwhile, men still have trouble embracing their feminine archetype comfortably, and those that do are looked at sideways by other men. The manly man’s man’s man will still refer to other men as girls in an attempt to demean them, implying that it is negative to be soft or sensitive or to express one’s emotions.

The concept of fortitude seems to be implicitly tied to our gonads as well, as we declare that someone lacking toughness needs to “grow a pair”. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems that a vagina can withstand far more than our hacky sacks. Those things can withstand the force of our derricks then turn around and do the equivalent of passing a melon through a garden hose during childbirth, while a single soccer ball bounce into the male fun zone induces a temporary state of malaria like symptoms, at which point we are no longer afraid to cry.

So to all you men out there reading this post: True strength is showing your vulnerability. We all have within us the feminine side that is begging to be acknowledged. We have an X chromosome just like the “fairer” sex so we have no excuse. Our little dangling Y is not going to shrivel up and be devoured by the big X if we show some compassion, if we exhibit some tenderness. The world will be better off. The overwhelming number of men in political positions would stop being afraid of the beautiful power that women hold and cease with continually trying to suppress it. If we stop and embrace our feminine principles we will find we are capable of so much more than we currently are, much the way women have when they stop believing the bullshit about them being less than any man.

Queen of Swords with Four of Pentacles

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

There have been a few occasions on this blog when I have used the phrase clucking [one’s] tongue. If you are unfamiliar with that term it’s likely because you know it as clicking one’s tongue, or if you’re of West Indian descent as I am you know it as sucking one’s teeth (a slightly different sound reminiscent of a sarcastic cricket that involves pulling air through the teeth) or if your primary method of communication is with your thumbs you might know it as smh.

At the end of the day… or really any part of any given day… all of these are indicated as an expression of disapproval. A 49 year-old man wearing gray socks with a brown belt and blue shoes might elicit a tongue click, or a juicy bit of gossip about how Porter was hitting on the daughter of the mayor of Georgetown, Guyana, right in front of him might yield a sucking of the teeth, or finding out that Sally just got bk tgthr wth Herman might warrant an smh. Each of these scenarios deems worthy of our swift and critical condescension with extreme prejudice.

When we practice the art of criticism we are taking a page out of the book of Performing Magic 101; it’s all about misdirection. It’s all about averting another’s eyes away from our flaws and imperfections by drawing their attention to another’s. We are essentially Quasimodo saying “I can’t believe she left the house looking like that.”

Let me be clear here… I am not using this platform to preach on the evils of shit-talking. Make no mistake; I’m not condoning it either. I am by no means endorsing Judge Hisbehavior. I am just pointing out a marvelous opportunity we can take advantage of when it comes to our awareness. The more we think or look at or speak of others disapprovingly, the heavier base of foundation we are trying to smear on our faces to conceal the flaws we believe we have. We know we have them, we just don’t want others to know we have them, and if others can’t see them, maybe they will cease to exist. That did not work for Snuffleupagus. I’m just saying. Now everyone can see him and now he’s just another giant Muppet.

We can move into greater personal growth by observing how we regard another person, and if we find it to be in a critical light, let it serve as a bell, a notification to tell us there is an aspect of ourselves of which we disapprove that we are trying to ignore. We are silently sending an encrypted message to our subconscious that says “we might be broken but that person is so much more broken than we are so we can’t really be that bad”. Meanwhile the subconscious isn’t buying that; it instead slaps a “Damaged Goods” sticker on our personal issue and shelves it, only for us to unbox it later during a time when we really need courage or self-confidence.

It is a guarantee that the degree of criticism we express toward others represents a fraction of the criticism we hold toward ourselves. Let us find compassion for others who travel a different path and have a different set of life experiences; they may seem unfitting to our way of life, but they serve as a means for them to learn and grow. That compassion will in turn will help us to find the compassion we need to show ourselves to help us in our own healing and personal growth.

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.

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.