Seven of Swords with Two of Cups

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

A close friend of mine told me a story involving her and one of her close friends in college. Her friend was seeing a guy at the time, but she suspected my friend and this guy might have had a latent attraction to each other. In order to validate the existence of the attraction she had arranged for the boyfriend and my friend to be alone together sans her. Of course the girl’s suspicions were confirmed and she confronted my friend after the betrayal and admitted to deliberately “testing” her. My friend replied, “If you’re pretty sure I’m going to fail your test and you don’t like the results, then don’t give me the test.”

This whole business of trust in any burgeoning relationship is a tricky one; be it lovers, friends, associates, coworkers, any relationship that is unfolding. I can make you roll your eyes and nod rhetorically if I tell you that trust has to be earned. It is the theme of every banal teenage drama on television. Yes, yes… we know that, David… captain of clichés. Clearly David starts with the letter Duh.

I’ll spare you the wisdom of the banal and venture into the more exotic take on trust. In order for trust to be earned, it has to be broken. It must be tested and strained. The paper grocery bag we carry our trust in has to get wet in the rain and threaten to tear, releasing our grapefruit and eggs and flank steak and box of baking powder and our Crunchy-O’s to the wet pavement just before we reach the car door.

Think about this. Trust has to at some point be challenged. One doesn’t say “I know she doesn’t read my private journal” without it crossing one’s mind when it’s left on one’s nightstand when her roommate is home alone. At some point the opportunity for the breach is realized, and we sit staring at the crack waiting to see if our partner will chip away at it enough to be able to reach through the wall.

But here’s the tricky part, the smoke and mirrors, the David Copperfield’s flair and dazzle, the Penn and Teller’s humorous play-off-the-other-partnership, the David Blaine’s disarming deadpan, the Criss Angel’s saying “close your eyes and don’t peek”. The misdirection is the other person in whom our trust is tested. The real trust issue lies in the self. The need to constantly keep one eye open is a symptom of a lack of trust in our ability to align ourselves with people above board. Even when we find the limits to which we can trust another, we still insist on testing them to validate their untrustworthiness beyond the point of the validation we already received. Are we really testing ourselves to see if we can trust ourselves to not trust the untrustworthy?

This is not to say that it is simply our fault if another person betrays us our shatters our faith in them that should be there by default. It is to say that if we to continue to risk a betrayal from our partner when past examples show it to be inevitable, we are clearly demonstrating a lack of trust in ourselves. Perhaps it is an inability to trust ourselves to make sound decisions in love or in business. Perhaps we mistrust our strength in functioning independently. In any event a constant mistrust of a person with whom we are entering some form of partnership is an opportunity for us to examine where we need to strengthen our sense of self trust. When we find that and we secure that we will see that the partnership will naturally resolve itself to our personal benefit.

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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.

The Hanging Man with Five of Cups

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

I know a guy who fully embraces the Finders-Keepers game. He will often boast on one or another acquisition he’s recently stumbled upon. He’s kind of like a human crow, I suppose, carting off every shiny metal object to his lair, then cawing marvelously “look what I found” from the highest branch of the nearby cedar tree.

Some of his findings have little more value than the swag you grab from a fishbowl at a trade show. Then again, some things might possibly hold more value… specifically to the original owner that had lost the item. As the finder holds up a thumb drive and rotates it like a watch on a motorized turntable in a glass display case I sometimes wonder if it holds the final draft of a senior’s term paper and they are now in a full throttle panic trying to find that thumb drive. Perhaps they are tearing their bedroom asunder in the search for it, or they are returning to every classroom and computer lab they visited, or they are checking in with the lost and found every hour like the nerdy kid who just gave his phone number to a girl in the line at Panera yesterday, or they are putting up “Have you seen me?” flyers around campus with a picture of him with his arm around his thumb drive. “About 1.5 inches long, dark blue, goes by the name SanDisk”.

My, how Lady Fortune shines upon this guy, dropping in his foot path all sorts of lost items that he can claim. Before, he had stuff; now, he has more stuff! It is irrelevant to him that his more-stuff comes as a result of someone else’s less-stuff. One thing’s for certain, the path of discovered trinkets and chachkis does not lead to the Lost and Found box where any of it could be turned in to be claimed by its rightful original owner. Perish the thought.

Okay, so where was I going with this? I just had to look at the two cards again to bring me back to my original point…

Ah, yes. Okay. Here’s what I say: I once again make a counterintuitive-call-to-action here as I’m sometimes inclined to in this blog. If you find you’ve encountered a material loss, if you find that through a series of teeth grinding events your last $100 has been reduced to your last $20 in the blink of an eye, it’s time to give $10 of it away. What?! you say, making sure the interrobang comes through loud and clear in your exclamation. That’s all I have left to my name!

I have a couple of bullet points in the list of why it’s a good idea. The first is a bit woo-woo, the second is a bit humbling. Let’s do the woo-woo first. Sometimes the universe (with a capital or lowercase “U”, it’s your choice) likes to remind us that we have too much. We find ourselves taking into account all the advice Cousin Avarice keeps whispering in our ear in its most sultry voice and we either continue our compulsive drive for acquisition or we hold on tightly to what we have. We’ve become so caught up in that sweet tantalization of just how good the goods are we are deaf to the universe telling us to let go so we have room for something better that may or may not actually be a thing. Our own fear has us seeing space as being equivalent to deficit.

Now from a more human perspective: When we find ourselves lamenting over how much we’ve lost and how we are left with so little, here’s what happens when we decide to give away half of what remains; we look for the person or people who need it the most. Nothing gives us a nice wake-up call to the extent of the fortune we have when we encounter someone to whom ten dollars is ten dollars more than what they have while it’s merely half of what we have.

Give it away. You will not be left with nothing, you will be creating space for the universe to give you what it’s been wanting you to have for a long time coming.

Eight of Cups with Seven of Swords

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

As eye-rollingly poppy and filled with cliche tumbleweed town wisdom as is Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler, I cannot wax condescending regarding its seemingly jejune advice, as I would find myself belied by my previous poker analogy ladened posts regarding being pot committed that I had written here –> (Page of Wands with Eight of Wands) and here –> (The Tower with Eight of Coins).

These two posts echo in their themes the advice given by the anonymous 1978 version of Johnny Moss in the lines know when to fold ’em / know when to walk away. So as to avoid the risk of the police coming to my door saying they received a disturbance call and hauling me off to jail in handcuffs while the theme of knowing when to walk away stares out the window as they put me in the squad car, I’m going to simply take a different perspective on this rather than beat it to death. I would not want Doyle Brunson rolling in his grave, was he not actually still alive.

It may seem like the least apropos time to think about this when you’re chest deep in quicksand, but sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we are deceiving ourselves by believing we can succeed in an otherwise futile scenario or if we are merely deceiving ourselves into believing the scenario is futile as a means of an excuse to eschew any future effort required of us.

Since I’ve abandoned the poker analogy and am now going with one involving quicksand, I’m going to go with it. In this scenario, the solutions to prevent oneself from becoming further immersed in quicksand seem counterintuitive. Some suggestions from the Bear Grylls ilk is to sit down or attempt to lie down. This feels much like turning into the direction of a skid or pretending you’re dead if a bear is charging you, or pulling prime rib out of the oven before it reaches its ideal temperature, or complimenting the wardrobe choice of your boss of a different gender. When you’re steadily feeling yourself being pulled down by the perception-addling non-Newtonian fluid, the last thing you believe will save your life would be to relax into it like coquette sipping a Piña Colada in a cabana. Yet this has been proven to help one escape from nature’s gravity well, though it might provide futile in escaping from this encumbering analogy.

This is an illustration of the solution residing outside the box. All too often when we find ourselves way too far into our pursuit with no hope of success and a long way back to Start, we are driven by the dynamo of intensity-fueled frustration, of a tenacity that is applied simply for the sake of tenacity. When all we know to do is to put our heads down and push through, we can’t see the possible divergent paths to our left and our right.

Before we are ready to walk away from an exhausting black hole of effort with no return, leaving the construction of our dream three-quarters the way complete only to find out we are broke and ineligible for any financing assistance, it’s time to actually lie down on the floor and stare into the starry sky since there is no roof on the structure. Stop the pull of the quicksand and the hemorrhaging of hope long enough to let the mind wander. When we release the frenetic fervor of effort even only for a moment, leaving our thoughts free to roll in Elysium fields of disassociation from our task at hand, we open ourselves up to finding an alternate route, an untried avenue, a probability that is just crazy enough to work.

Five of Cups with The Tower

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

Another movie reference pops into my head as I draw these two particular cards…

Moonstruck is a movie from 1987 starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, and Olympia Dukakis. There is a particular scene, perhaps one of the most referred-to scenes in the entire movie, that comes to mind. I’m going to set it up here without the obligatory SPOILER ALERT as there is a rule that states that if a movie is more than 20 years old you are exempt from having to declare that particular advisory as such.

For the sake of full disclosure, I made that rule up.

With all that out of the way, the scene goes like this: Loretta (played by Cher) wakes up to find herself in bed with her fiance’s brother (played by Nicolas Cage). She scrambles out of bed, hurriedly dresses herself and declares that they take their entanglement from the preceding night to their respective graves. He declares that he can’t do that as he is in love with her. She looks at him, take a beat, then slaps him. She takes another beat, chases that first slap with an even harder one that seems intended to stop his heart for a millisecond, then retorts, “Snap out of it!”

Often when we don’t get our way, or something just falls through the rotting floorboards of our overbuilt expectations, we get fixated on our loss. We go on and on about the injustice of the circumstance that has befallen us. We hoist the sheets up over our head and dehydrate ourselves through the tears of the loss of that really cool job we were supposed to get. We grouse about how we should have ran the ball at the one yard line, or if we felt we had to pass we should have not thrown it to the intended receiver running a slant to the middle of the end zone…

Oops, sorry about that. I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan that’s been listening to a week’s worth of aggravation regarding their final play call from the Superbowl… we now return to our regularly scheduled blog post…

We can sometimes get fixated on that certain something that we had been wanting. When we don’t get it we throw back our heads and wail to the sky while rending our shirts or blouses or tunics or what have you. We lament about how much better things would have been had we gotten what we should have gotten, how ain’t nothing no good no more gonna come my way now.

The biggest issue with crying over spilled milk is while that glass lay on its side and the white bovine-based protein drink drips off the table’s edge onto the linoleum where the dog eagerly laps it up, there’s still the better part of the gallon jug sitting on the table with the summer sunlight beaming through the window creating the perfect conditions for the bacteria cultural festival to begin drawing in throngs to get that party curdling.

More often than not, when something does not come to fruition for us, or when an opportunity gets snatched from our hands by a gust of I-guess-it-sucks-to-be-you, there is something better waiting in the wings. The woo-woo gurus of the cult of optimism love to say if the Universe doesn’t give you what you want it’s to hold the space for something better to come along. That’s all well and good, but if we gnash our teeth over what we have been denied, the Universe is going to get tired of waiting for us to calm down and will just move along, leaving a note that says “Sorry I missed you while you were the only guest at your pity party. I had something really good for you but I had to go.”

Really it’s actually not the Universe in it’s vast anthropomorphism that walks away with its prize. It’s our field of undeservedness that our lament casts around us, cloaking all good things from our vision that are to follow. We have determined ourselves unworthy of blessings as we did not receive what we thought we were due, so even greater rewards cannot be ours by right if the lesser reward was not. At some point we need to shake ourselves off and recognize that what wasn’t, isn’t, and will not be is just that and move on. We cannot see what is awaiting us until we lift our gaze from the ashes at our feet and turn around to face the sun that is shining on our backs.

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.

Eight of Wands with Seven of Cups

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Once again, I come to this blog with a couple of cards that seem to have a bit of a personal message. Whether you are anything like me, or nothing like me, or somewhat resemble me from the knees on down, there may be a message in these two cards for you as well.

First of all, I want to preface this post with the promise that this is in no way another New Year’s themed memorandum. I’m not vowing to eat more of this or less of that, I’m not planning a lifelong commitment into a workout regimen that will actually fade out in the third week of the year, nor am I promising to be nicer or less snarky to myself or anyone else. I’m not really a resolution maker, as I’m a proponent of the “the best time to start anything is now” credo rather than saving it for a monumental milestone marker date that’s highlighted on a monthly calendar containing pictures of puppies in baskets.

For me, why decide to start something anew on the annual Day 1 when there are so many things I have yet to complete? Admittedly I am one of those forms of folk that like to have a myriad of projects, many irons in the fire.  My grandmother, having recognized the multifaceted attention span that is inherent in us Gemini, often tossed me the “jack of all trades, master of none” idiom (or its Barbadian equivalent) as a harbinger of a life filled with the detritus of incomplete endeavors.

As I take inventory of the works-in-progress that lay strewn about in my mental hopper I see a fictional story, a non-fictional writing concept, an improvement on the coffee roaster, the continuing pursuit of my certifications for work, the next assignment in line toward my metaphysical theology degree, another podcast or reawakening the dormant one, a little music recording… that’s only to name a fraction of them. The list is inexhaustible yet exhausting to ponder. A small thread of anxiety shows itself when I try to discern which deserves the lion’s share of my attention.

Each and every one of these endeavors excites me, so I cannot begin to prioritize them by importance. That’s the trouble with these multiple interests; as each moment passes one of these happen to stop on the wheel’s flapper to say “pick me”, yet the wheel gets respun time and time again as the sun marches across the sky. How do I decide what is most important or most deserving of my time, or which I want to do above all others?

The trick here is to step back and look at it all from a thousand feet away. When all these little projects and interest get displayed on a single large canvas, they take on a completely different perspective. I can look at all these accomplishments I’m aspiring to complete in one singular theme. The question is not about importance or priority or ultimate desire, it is one of purpose and point, not about what I want to accomplish, but who I want to be.

As I stand back and soak in these endeavors in perspective panoramic, I seem to see a mish-mosh of disparate plans and projects, but my Gemini soul gazes upon the vista with great pleasure. I see a collection of tiny pieces of projects, each of which in turn catches the sun as it crosses the sky to create a glint to catch my attention at that moment in time, only until the next piece winks its light at me with the shifting azimuth. It is delighting in the distractions of the dabblings. It is the pleasure of engaging in a tarantella with a myriad of projects that exhilarates me. It is essentially the pure joy in being a jack of all trades, much more gratifying than being the master of one.