King of Cups with Ace of Swords

imag1479.jpg
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.

 

Three of Swords with Queen of Pentacles

imag1423.jpg

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.

Prince of Swords with Seven of Wands

imag1420.jpg
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Someone said the best offense is a good defense

…or is it the best defense is a good offense?

Either way, someone said it. Likely someone military or game or sports oriented, like George Washington or Lao Tsu or Guy Lombardo… or is that Vince Lombardi?

The idea here is that if you are constantly pressing an aggressive offense onto your opponent, they exhaust themselves in their defense so that they have no time or energy or provisions for a counterattack.

Enter American Football. The adage in today’s 21st century gridiron is that it’s the defense that determines the outcome of the game. In other words, an excellent defense against a good offense is more likely to win than an excellent offense against a good defense.

Are you confused yet? You should be.

Enter David and his warped-ass concepts, birthed from the carnival of his cognizance and conceptualization…

Much to the condescending contempt of colonels and coaches everywhere, I would dare to say these two sides of the coin of conflict are indistinguishable. Offense and defense may seem different on paper, but the only true difference is no greater than the color of the chess pieces on either side of the board. If you’re in an offensive position you are simply exercising proactive defense. If you find yourself on the defense it is because you are offended.

Let me take this one step further, a step away from merely waxing philosophical and toward practical and functional: whichever side we believe ourselves to be on during any melee, skirmish, scrimage, or campaign, it would behoove us to not purely consider ourselves merely on offense or defense. Each side must acknowledge and embrace the other aspect in all engagements, or we will lose whatever battle we are embrawled in.

As offense, we need to be ready to defend ourselves at a moment’s notice. When we are on the attack, the assailed will fight back. During our attack we constantly need to parry against defensive countering. On defense we cannot simply brace our shields and hope for the best. We must counterstrike each blow to drive back the aggressor.

This concept is not restricted to sports and military and fisticuffs. It benefits us to apply a well balanced mix of offense and defense in any challenging situation. Any time we need to apply energy to get through an obstacle or we need to steel ourselves against an adversity life decides to throw at us we need to apply this principle. A purely aggressive or defensive position in any endeavor leaves us vulnerable, no matter the power of our onslaught or the thickness of our fortification. Like all other things in life, balance in the mode we take toward our conquests assures us the strongest position.

Two of Swords with Wheel of Fortune

imag1398.jpg
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

A for-sure guaranteed inevitability that will definitely happen at some point in life is where we come to a crossroads, that place of indecision. Chicken or fish? The one that comes in gray or the one that comes in black?  Date the one from Arkansas or the one from Missouri? Call an Uber or call a cab?

Of course I cited examples that could be filed under small potatoes minutia. There are the biggies like coming out of the closet, or taking a job in another state or province, whether or not to quit our job, or whether or not to deliberately disseminate our glorious bouquet of DNA throughout the universe. Those are the ones that make us lay awake at night with our eyes wide open, counting bits of ceiling popcorn.

These episodes of paralysis-inducing ambivalence on what we truly desire is not as it seems. We like to believe that our vacillation stems from the fact that we want Option A as badly as we want Option 2. Let’s keep telling ourselves that we are the flag on the tug-of-war rope with the equally covetable options vying for our final decision.

But here’s the truth: the very thing that gets us stuck between Scylla and Charybdis is fear. Fear of being permanently encumbered with the result of making the wrong choice. It’s not that we want what’s in the left hand and right hand equally, we are afraid of being disappointed with what we ultimately chose and letting the unchosen option get away, never to see it again.

It seems to me that we stand at these crossroads looking in one direction or the other as if the road will always continue in that chosen direction. The reality is no matter which decision we make, that path will lead us to another bifurcation at some point. Every choice presents us its reward through what it used to tantalize us, yet it also calls for sacrificing something else we desire.

We are never permanently stuck with the results of a decision. What we chose inevitably leads to the next mentally rending decision at some point down the road, like a set of Matryoshka dolls with another point of decision within the preceding one. We could decide to bivouac in the middle of the intersection and refuse to take a path if we find ourselves that paralyzed. However, life is avaricious for change, it insists on exacting its toll of metamorphosis, it throws entropy in the face of the static. If we think we can avoid regret by not choosing, life will choose for us and we will invariably receive neither option.

Ten of Swords with The Fool

2016-02-14-12-35-49-1435.jpg
Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne

At some point in nearly every life, without exception, we find ourselves at the end of the road. We have ventured far enough into the blind alley to the point where we can proceed no further.

If I were to take a guess, the path to this impasse contained detailed plans, carefully deliberated decisions consisting of tweaks and changes to an outline of what we intended to achieve. We thought we regarded every contingency. We thought we entertained multiple alternate scenarios. We believed we had made our plan as foolproof as possible, only to find it had failed to come to fruition at the end of the day.

There are occasions vast in number when it is more than appropriate to chart out exactly how we will proceed in a given endeavor. However, there are moments in our journey or steps in our undertakings for which careful planning is not only futile, it can be detrimental and inevitably disastrous. During times such as these it is imperative to rely on our intuition.

Our intuition is a most brilliant guidance system that seems to follow no guidelines. It will fire off a message that signals us to make a specific choice or avoid a specific scenario, sometimes suggesting an option that falls counter to what might make better logical sense. Yet our left-brain ruler born of academia and conventionalism and even dogma spurs us on to stay on the well laid out path of the tried and true. A sensible plan was created; we must stick to it.

The tales of the greatest achievements of our lives often contain an anecdote of a whimsical decision we once made, or a leap of faith we had taken, or a series of serendipitous events that fell into our laps simply because we responded to a strange urge that came upon us. I will be so bold as to say the grander the intention the more unreliable our meticulous plans will be and the more often we will be tapped on the shoulder by our inner voice as to the best course of action.

The most detailed roadmap or accurate GPS cannot predict cuts of chaos into the fabric of order. We could not account for the aluminum siding that flew out of the truck bed, lifted by a gust that had been generated by the Brazilian butterfly’s wing flapping days prior. The subconscious, however, has the ability to see such things. It lives in the basement of reality along with the fractals blossoming from seeming randomness, with the quantum particles that occupy multiple places simultaneously, in the realm where time is merely the phone conversation doodles of the unrealized forces of our universe.

Our inner knower scoffs at conventional physics and linear perception. We however are enslaved by this inviolate illusion. All too often when our intuition raises its hand and makes a suggestion we are all too quick to dismiss it. We go back to studying our pieces carefully laid out on the board of our game of Mitigated Risk. The non-Euclidian math of the inner voice’s suggestion just doesn’t add up, so we chalk it up to nonsense and we stick to the plan.

There is a beautiful opportunity for us if we choose to look back through our dead-end endeavors. I would bet my spleen (or any other non-essential internal organ) that there were multiple times in a failed journey we had embarked upon when our intuition was screaming and waving arms to get our attention and we simply hit the snooze on its signal. If we can find those moments and recognize them as directions from within, we will know how to spot them in the future when they come along again to save us from ourselves.

Influences on 2016

imag1359.jpg
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.

Faith with Five of Swords

 

wpid-imag1338.jpg
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

Man, between ISIS, Syrian refugees, the attack on Paris, and the presidential campaigns, social media is a hotbed for heated dialogs, debates, arguments, and the ad hominem poo flinging that basically states I’ve got no rebuttal, so that makes you an asshole.

I will be honest, I do find myself being lured into some of these debates due to my predilection for challenging topical discussions. During one of these I was labeled as a postmodern philosopher, pejoratively if I might add. He told me I was dangerously blind to the truth of our society, a sociological given that I was a fool for not conceding to, that his choices were based on the quantifiable and predictable results of repeated historical behavior in our culture.

I told him as a postmodern philosopher I had to concede that he was right. I followed with “…then again, so am I.” with the obligatory winky emoji. If there were an eyeroll emoji I’m sure he would have sent it back my way.

The allure of championing ideological perspectives against an opposing view on social media is a chunk of pyrite on fly paper. We get drawn into the inescapable trap of wording our position cleverly, forcefully, or demeaning enough that we are convinced of our inviolate ability to verbally thwart our opponents into head-nodding submission, leaving us to collect their bobblehead effigies to mount upon the mantle of our own social righteousness. Then when we become disillusioned by their tenacity to hold their perspectives against our excellently delivered salvos we escalate our counter attack, continuing the melee until we get hungry or tired or distracted by a cat video and simply walk away.

If we are so resolute in our conviction, why do we seem so adamant in taking charge against the infidels in the comment threads? If we could convince that person that is just plain wrong and massively deluded to repent, do we get extra chits which we can carry into heaven to exchange for giant stuffed teddy bears or a DVD player or a golf cart stocked with a mini bar? Why the hell is it so all-fired important for us to be right?

This morning I shared this article by Lydia Wilson from The Nation regarding what she had discovered while interviewing imprisoned ISIS fighters. In sharing the article I had said:

It is said that in order to defeat your enemy you have to understand your enemy. Ironically, once you truly understand your enemy you find at the core they are no different from you.

Our greatest enemy is the enemy of ourselves within ourselves.

This article shows the value in actually taking time to understand the validity our “opponents” find in their position. We often forget or even ignore during our bantering and ballyhoo that the opposing position to ours taken was not chosen arbitrarily. The position espoused by those across the aisle or the street or the Thanksgiving table or the ocean or the DMZ was chosen because it reflects the human condition under which they live, it underscores their personal narrative formed from their collective experience. To tell them their views are invalid is to tell them their lives have been invalid since the day they were born.

When we seek to refute an idea, belief, opinion, or ideology that opposes our own we actually create a psychological and spiritual vulnerability within ourselves. I know there’s the romanticized notion of having a John Wayne level of unshakeable conviction that makes the pectorals of the toughest tough guy perform feats of granite. Yet the inability to see beyond one’s own sliver slice of the human experience leaves one’s foundation constructed of playing cards and wet toilet paper and the plot of Con Air.

Being unwilling to or incapable of seeing the validity of another’s truths for themselves prevents us from seeing our own shortcomings under the shadow of our chauvinism. When we see our perspective as inalienably irrefutable we can no longer see which aspects no longer serve us, or worse yet, are to our detriment to continue to uphold. When we stretch ourselves to look through the eyes of the adversary we can lift the blinders that conceal our own weaknesses and conquer the aspects of ourselves that encumber us from moving toward our own personal and spiritual growth.