King of Cups with Ace of Swords

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Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Ace of Wands with The Moon

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Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

Simple question: Who doesn’t like to be tantalized and titillated, mesmerized and mystified, enthralled and enraptured?

Did you raise your hand? Did you say “No, I’m not one for wonderment”? Probably not. I didn’t. I like to have my senses all atingle. I am much like most people I know; we love to find ourselves enthralled by some stimuli that widens our eyes and pries our mouths agape.

This might come in the form of a plot twist in a movie or tv show, it might be the high conflict in a novel or a story, perhaps it is a juicy piece of news about some big event that happened to someone famous, or innocent, or notorious.

Maybe our senses were stimulated by something new in the form of the material; we bought a new car, we tried on a new fancy wig, a puppy was introduced into our home, we just powered on the latest version of the smartphone we just received.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or a human condition thing, but we are addicted to newness. New events, new circumstances, new things, new technological advances, even new concepts and ideas. We love the moment when we cross the threshold from the banal to the thrill, we love to gasp at the reveal.

The problem is, the eternal stretch of the jejune that lives between the moments of delight inevitably rises up. It is during those lingering moments when we leap out of staying in the present like a cat walking across a hot stove. We play in our mind the highlight reels of the past events which tickled our senses, or we drum our fingers on the table waiting to be delightfully surprised again.

We as present-day people are jaded by peace and quiet and solitude. The irony is that true inspiration is found in the still space beyond the senses. We believe we are moved by all the little twinkles of delight that we so fervently seek, but these really are just distractions.

In all honesty, we are quite often afraid of those quiet moments where we are left with nothing but our own thoughts and feelings. The unspoken and unseen recesses beneath our senses are regarded like under-the-bed monsters. We live in fear of facing the part of ourselves that is meant to be grounded indefinitely without tv, phone, or dessert. We do anything to avoid having that long overdue nonverbal conversation with our subconscious. We know it will tell us what we need to do to be who we want to become, who we need to become, but it requires of us the work we aren’t willing to sign up for. It requires ripping the bandaid off our tender ego to reveal the shadow side that comprises our wounds and begs to be washed, rinsed, and exposed to the air in order to heal.

If we find ourselves frequently uninspired, with an insatiable itch to be tantalized by the next distraction be it through acquisition of the next latest and greatest thing or through a volley of escapisms, that is our queue to seek out the quiet space within. That realm may seem like it offers nothing but void and formlessness, but in all actuality it is the source of that which propels us toward our own rich becoming.

The Magician with Ace of Wands

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Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

These two particular cards I just drew are reminding me that it’s time to talk about manifestation again. Clearly this blog is no stranger to this topic, with it being called The Tarot of Manifestation and all. Of course I have to obligatorily address the Law of Attraction again as well.

It shouldn’t be any secret how I feel about The Secret (the book, the movie, the workbook, the t-shirt and mugs, the personal certified life coach trainer guru) as well as LOA (that’s Law of Attraction in New Age hipster vernacular). I’m sure I’ve soapboxed on this topic a time or two or a baker’s dozen or ad infinitum. So grab a box of Marble Munch or whatever gets sucked into the snackhole while being entertained, put a pillow behind your lumbar and get your readers on if you are over 45…

There’s all these authors and coaches and spiritual advisors that offer to teach us how to manifest that which we desire. I even did it in the first chunk of the Tarot part of this blog via a post on each of the 78 keys. The not-so-secret pretty much says we have to believe we can and will create the reality we want for ourselves.

Most of the critics that are not skeptics infiltrating the flock disguised as believers bemoan the experience they had that is contrary to the New Age cheerleader’s wisdom. They say it is difficult to have faith when they don’t manifest yachts and Prada and gold bullion and cars of the douchey and reckless. Then the teacher and student wrestle with the Chicken Prime vs. Egg Prime, they don’t believe it because it didn’t happen/it didn’t happen because they don’t believe it.

I would say manifestation is like breathing, that it happens automagically without thinking about it, but the difference is we can hold our breath to temporarily halt our breathing, whereas our manifestation ability doesn’t turn off, much like the Christmas music at this time of year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a few more times during this lifetime: we are constantly manifesting.

Now before the enlightened ones patronizingly pat me on my head and say “Now, now… we’re talking about how to manifest our desires“, I say yes, I am aware, and that’s what I’m saying as well. Call me crazy, throw a full can of vegetables at my head, I don’t care. I truly believe we are constantly manifesting our desires.

 

The things we get, or actually create in life are the things that serve us somehow, that reinforce or build upon who we believe ourselves to be and who we are becoming. When we continue to get a lot of what we don’t think we want, we are stubbornly refusing to look at how these unwanteds are serving us. We keep sending that meal we ordered back to the kitchen with the hope they eventually meet our dizzyingly high standards but at the most basic level we just want to eat. Our stomach growls louder and our blame meter rises, ignoring the fact that each send-back was our decision.

Want to manifest the things you want? First figure out why you want the things you’ve been manifesting. That’s a cute and clever way of saying we need to practice self-awareness and be brutally honest in it while we’re at it. The manifester’s creations are a result of how we see the manifester, or simply how we see ourselves. We manifest who we believe ourselves to be.

Ace of Pentacles with The Empress

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

My wife and I often joke about writing a book entitled If We Had Kids… We are certain it would raise the ire of every parent that would read the About the Authors piece that described how we have no children. We would be serving as the armchair quarterbacks doling out sage wisdom that was not discovered through the scars upon one’s psyche earned through the process of child rearing. We would be placed in the stockades in the middle of Parentown by an angry mob of mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted moms and dads, pitchforks with impaled diapers and homework raised, the 1st Amendment standing in the background waving us off, saying, “you guys are on your own.”

The biggest problem I see with the title of the book, other than the fact that it would have been written by a couple of middle-class DINKS, is that nobody has kids. People bear children and raise children and teach children and feed and clothe children, but they don’t have them. Although children are under the care of adults for nearly two decades as they grow and mature and learn how to function in the world, they are still embodied with free will, individuality, and personality. Quite simply, they are not possessions.

I would like to see people substitute the term having kids with the term creating kids. The children we bring into the world are of our own unique creation that no other person can replicate. They are the quintessential form of personal expression of our uniqueness. We instill our values into our children so they can contribute to creating a world we want to see realized. Once we have accomplished this, we can only release them to the world when they become adults. The designations of mom and dad are now but associative titles of relation rather than designation of keepers.

I decided to be so bold as to illustrate my point through raising offspring, an experience of which I am richly devoid. Nonetheless, as producing and rearing offspring is the pinnacle of creativity to many, I felt it was rather appropriate. You see, that which we create, whether it be children or art or music or building structures or a company or a necklace or a quilt or a novel, they really truly are not our own. Even if we choose to keep it or possess it, its true value is realized when we acknowledge our creations are our gifts to the world.

Even if we were to custom build that house from the plans that we created, we leave that house standing as a gift to whoever moves into it long after our flesh has turned to ash or soil or crab food. When we see the products of our creations as devices through which to acquire stuff or satisfaction, we are really missing the point. We might be driven to create then we stand and admire our creation with great pride, but it really is no more than a chachki to put on a mantle that has to be dusted every week unless we give it to the world. That’s when our creations truly come alive and expand into the great network of life.

So let us share our creations. Don’t keep that novel in the drawer. Don’t hold onto our sons and daughters so tightly in fear of losing our identities if we release them to the world. All that we create is meant to be given away. If you’ve ever wondered what it means to have one’s cake and eat it too it is to say that we can make the most beautiful cake in the world and put it under glass to admire throughout the rest of our days, but we’ve totally missed the point of cake if we don’t share it to be eaten.

Six of Wands with Ace of Swords

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

When I was in high school I lettered in band and theater. I remember getting some notice from the school that there would be an award ceremony on some given evening and they wanted to acknowledge my achievement. Personally, I didn’t know what it was all about, I had no idea what to expect. I had never lettered in anything as I never participated in sports in high school. The closest I came to entering into a sport was when I considered joining the water polo team. The season conflicted with a play I wanted to be in so I spared myself the experience of aspirating copious amounts of chlorine infused pool water.

I wanted to dress appropriately for this event, so I did my best to scratch up my best wardrobe from a school picture day long gone by. This resulted in a hodge-podge of raiment that consisted of an ill-fitted Oxford of a color that vacillated between neutral and pastel with a lavender knit tie that, as you may know if you’ve ever experienced any slice of 80s men’s fashion, is not unlike trying to tie a Windsor knot with a tube sock. My slacks told a story of having once been worn by a shorter David. The shoes… well, quite frankly I don’t remember the shoes.

I remember sitting in the back of the theater next to my mother and sister (and maybe my father, if my mom had successfully guilted him into attending, but my memory is too hazy on that). I listened to students’ names being called and watched each one that was present march onto the stage to receive their certificate and their pin. I did not find myself getting nervously excited about the accolades, nor was I indifferent to the whole event. I was anxious about walking the proscenium catwalk of teenage growth spurt style illustrated in color-blindness and punctuated with a deficit of fashion sense. My attempt to at least be well dressed was simply not well enough.

I believe I hung those certificates somewhere on one of the walls of my bedroom or my closet door. They were not displayed for the purpose of reminding family members and friends who crossed into my teenage lair of my extracurricular achievements. I just slapped them up there because I thought I was supposed to.

I’ve never understood the grand display of diplomas, awards, recognitions, and bravos framed behind glass and hung on office walls. If people desire to do that, more power to them. However, I’ve heard more stories of people who have become accomplished in one form or another attribute their motivation to a desire to prove to another person or specific peoples that they “made it”, that they’ve “become somebody”.

Isn’t there greater value in pursuing a goal primarily for the value returned from its accomplishment? Far too often many of us set out with something to prove to others, that we will show them once we’ve become successful. We feel that being one of the leaders in the cult of personality will bring even more personal significance to who we are, with our personal ascension toward enlightenment being achieved during the tossing of roses and the thunderous ovation. Then what happens when the last audience member to applaud realizes everyone else has stopped clapping and the curtain draws?

If our motivation toward any goal or achievement is based on winning the approval of another, or to gather around our plaque while nodding to each other the wonders of our excellence, that is a clue that our authentic selves have been left behind in the pursuit of our ambitions. Who we are and what we become needs no outside recognition to be validated, only the recognition that our greatest accomplishments are those that still make us proud in the stillness of our solitude when there is no one else to lay witness to them.

Ace of Cups with Two of Cups

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Have you ever heard the expression A sorrow shared is halved, a joy shared is doubled? Yeah, I had to sit on that one for awhile. I heard that expression and I found myself thinking, how is sorrow like a piece of cake? Does that mean if I eat a big ass piece of cake, I’ll be sorry due to an ensuing belly ache, but if I each half as much cake, I’ll only suffer half the amount of intestinal distress?

Don’t throw these little axioms my way as I am bound to overthink them.

I eventually absorbed the meaning of the first half of the expression. The other half seems quite self-evident to me. Even in its apparent obviousness it’s something I seem to forget at times.

How often do we use the statement overflowing with joy? There are occasions we feel such ebullience we can barely contain it, that it goes sloshing over the container of our emotional reservoirs to stain our grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth with the saccharin delight of whatever happened to turn us on. We radiate our enthusiasm to such a degree that our sunny disposition inflicts third degree burns on the more morose members of our audience.

What I want to focus on here is shared as the operative word in that expression. Simply running around as a personal celestial object-gone-wild shouting “Woot!” and flashing our globes of exuberance at every passerby may only serve enough to elicit a “Thanks for sharing” muttered sarcastically from a set of lips pinched shut on one side. This is tantamount to how zoo imprisoned primates share of themselves with their human viewers on the other side of the cage.

By sharing I’m referring to showing others the location of the wellspring into which we dipped our overflowing chalice. It’s not enough for us to simply show others that we are happy and expect that they will merely experience joy by proxy. Possibly, maybe. But when we leave do we take our joyful ball home and the game of feeling delight ends for the others? Or do we show them the rules of the happiness game so they can continue to play when we are no longer in their presence?

If we carry our candle into a room and offer our light, we cannot simply serve as the only light source. We must tip our flame to the candles of others so they can continue to shine on their own as well. We may need the flame we ignited for them when we might someday find ourselves in the dark.

King of Swords with Ace of Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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