Five of Wands with The Hanged Man

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Have you read the news lately? Have you been on Facebook and Twitter? Have you recently participated in a Thanksgiving holiday?

If so, congratulations for being involved with, or at least bearing witness to, lots of conflict and controversy. Some current event seems to incite some willing participant to state or share or post some provocative comment, one with a parenthetically implied “In your face!” within its message.

I often wonder what the intention is when all the bravado is distilled out of these stated positions. Is it to brazenly declare one’s ethical or political position? Is it to serve as a polarized beacon intended to illuminate the pathway to our opinion for those who share our world view? Is it to stomp on the ant mound of those who disagree so we can watch them all scurry to the top in an attempt to rebuild their logic that was razed by the foot of an astutely delivered statement?

Personally, I believe it’s all about the conflict. These current events slap our psyches around, leaving us unsafe and insecure. They storm into our comfortable lair of complacency like a drunken angry stepfather at 3am, lifting us out of the cozy bed of our belief system, pummelling us with the idea that our society continues to be a frightening and dangerous place.

The next day we stomp into the schoolyard of our preferred social media outlet or family gathering, looking for that weak kid with the opposing ideology, snatching from him his right to see the world from his perspective, playing keepaway with our ideological allies, doing whatever we can to thrust onto him the mantle of victim that fell upon us when we were reminded that we live in a scary society.

When I watch these verbal badminton matches play out along the entrails of the comments in a Facebook status based on a display of political JPG wisdom, I don’t see a think tank. I don’t see an attempt at finding a common solution. I see a game of choosing up sides where each commenter hopes their hand reaches the top of the bat and can proclaim the title of the Giver of the Last Word.

Somehow we’ve developed some sort of social pathology that has us equating being safe with being right. As long as people hold an opposing viewpoint to our own we are at risk of becoming personally invalidated. It is often said that the truth always lies in the middle. This infers that as long as there are opposing viewpoints neither can wholly lay claim to what is right. In order for anyone to find the safest place to reside, the DMZ that exists between any two sides of conflict, we have to not only acknowledge that there are aspects of our ideologies that can in no way be valid for many others. We need to painfully and deliberately tear ourselves away from a perspective that has been carefully constructed over a lifetime, if only for a moment, to cognize the validity of the perspective that is furthest away from our own. Only then will we truly feel safe, as compassion has no sharp edges.

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Three of Pentacles with Eight of Wands

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

One of my favorite quotes is “You can have it all… just not all at once”. I googled it to see who may have originally said it. According to the information tubes it was Oprah. Oprah, if you subscribe to this blog, let us know if you heard this from someone else.

There should be a joke that starts “What do you get when you cross the New Age community with a society of instant gratification?” You might get storyboards, creative visualization, The Secret, and any other tool to employ the Law of Attraction. Someone really needs to clarify that it doesn’t work like the north and south poles of a couple of magnets, slapping together when they come within a certain distance of each other. Fed Ex does not guarantee overnight delivery on us becoming who we envision ourselves to be.

Here’s where we insert whatever analogy is the equivalent to “you have to learn to walk before you can run”. Realistically you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and even then you have to learn to roll over onto your stomach before you can even crawl. Yet no one wants to be the apprentice. No one wants to be the coffee-fetching intern. In this society with its ever-increasing yields of generations of entitlement we set our intention and wonder why we haven’t been awarded our recognition for our achievement in the field of outstandingness in our given desire.

All. Things. Take. Time. There are no magic wands or shortcuts or get-rich-quick schemes. If we set an intention and wonder why it hasn’t come to fruition yet, it’s likely because we are counting in terms of days or weeks or months instead of years. We need to embrace the apprenticeship, we need to immerse ourselves in our place as the novice and know every expert has spent years in this position. Got that two or four or six or eight year degree in that specific field of study? Now you’re ready for that six figure salary? Let’s at the very least double that amount of time working in that field, then we can talk.

Oh, did I say there are no get-rich-quick schemes only to be rebutted by citing instances of lottery winners? So why do 70 percent of them go broke within seven years? Because they never learned how to steadily become wealthy over time. They learned to crawl then immediately tried to run a 5K. Let’s not rush to become the expert. Let’s not hurry into our coveted ideal place in life. Let’s know that as we build our future position we do it most securely brick by brick, through trial and error, through living in that starting position for longer than we think we need to, letting the length of experience be the true gauge of our proficiency.

Three of Swords with Five of Wands

The Witches Tarot By Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans
The Witches Tarot By Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

Our emotions form the impetus for every intention we set. The choices we make in life are based on these very intentions set from specific emotions. When these emotions are heavy, dark, and difficult we often forget that the strife we experience is generated by the emotion. We believe the inverse to be true, attributing our hurtful disposition to the struggles we have been facing.

Heavy emotions such as heartache, loss, and depression can be more compelling than we realize. When we find ourselves in this state for long enough we can sometimes forget what it is like to feel joy. We may also feel deserving of our state of despondency, so when joyful moments come our way, we might believe we are not worthy of being happy, that we need to remain in our dark place.

As the pain of loss begins to subside over time, we can find ourselves out of balance for a moment, seeking the “devil we know”, the familiar state of sadness we had resided in for so long. When a sense of lightness shows itself in our lives, we unconsciously find ways to push it away. We will create challenges and adversities to invite conflict into our lives. We can become confrontational with those close to us that have helped us through dark times. We may unwittingly sabotage events that promise to yield positive results for us.

One of the most difficult things to do is to break this cycle of self-destruction. Believing we are victims of circumstance is the clever trap we create for ourselves to keep us in that oh-so-familiar state of despair. When we step back and acknowledge that we are the architects of the flow of events in our lives, we can more easily see that we are creating a state of conflict for ourselves as an easy means to pull ourselves back into a state of sadness that we know it is time to move through.

Five of Cups

Five of Cups
A cloaked figure gazes with hanging head at three chalices spilt at the feet, not acknowledging the two still upright behind

The process of manifestation is not foolproof by any means. Not only do we encounter obstacles, setbacks, and losses on our path to attaining our desired outcomes, these are often part of the design in enabling us to achieve our goals.

It is not uncommon for us to become discouraged at the losses we experience along the way. We may feel that the universe is telling us that we are not deserving of what we desire, or that the intended outcome is not part of our life path. After all, if we are truly deserving of and entitled to what we want, why is it we cannot seem to attain it?

In all actuality, the frequent setbacks we face are not necessarily messages to ourselves that we are not worthy of our desires. It is possible that we need to examine what it is we truly want. The losses are often of our own making, due to our unconscious act of preventing ourselves from acquiring what we don’t want in the process of trying to accomplish what we may believe we actually want.

Continue reading Five of Cups

Five of Pentacles

Five of Pentacles
An impoverished couple moves through the harsh cold elements while passing a potential area of refuge.

Often when we set an intention on a specific outcome we want to manifest, the desired outcome is based on something we are currently lacking in our lives. After all, desire is the quintessential component of intention setting.

However, what often stalls the process of seeing our desires manifested is our tendency to maintain focus on what we are lacking. We can find ourselves easily identifying with the undesired state in which we currently reside. We repeatedly remind ourselves of what we do not have, or we choose to focus on the absence of the things we desire for ourselves.

The harsh truth is, it can sometimes be rather compelling to focus on what we don’t have. Perhaps we use our lack as an opportunity to place ourselves in a victim role, which allows us to shift accountability outside ourselves. Or perhaps we may receive sympathy or compassion we may not otherwise receive outside our current circumstance. Continue reading Five of Pentacles

Five of Swords

Five of Swords
A man looks smugly toward two dejected adversaries, he holds three swords as two lay on the ground

Competition can be healthy if held in the proper perspective. It can serve as fuel to inspire us to push beyond the limits we previously imposed upon ourselves. However, there is a danger in depending on competition as the primary source of motivation in manifesting our desired outcomes.

As others merely serve as reflections of ourselves, those we compete against are serving as reflections of our limitations. They aid and assist us in seeing the limits we have created for ourselves. Once we can move beyond depending on adversaries to highlight our own limitations we become less dependent on needing competitors to provide the impetus to excel.

Defining our successes through the conquest and besting of others creates the illusion of success. As we look to our defeated competitors as an indication of our own improvement we immediately look away from the measure of our own personal growth. It may seem as the defeat of another is indicative of our success, but we can defeat another person with no measure of personal improvement. The measuring stick for success is a personal one, so once we hold our own measuring stick against another person’s endeavors we cannot be honest with ourselves in our own self-assessment.

What happens when we have no more competitors outside of ourselves? Our only means of self-improvement comes at the hands of another when we depend on them to drive us toward success. This means that we stand still and stagnate without another person to compete against. We become blind to our own personal power, we lose the capacity for self-motivation. We have not learned to recognize our limitations on our own, thus we experience defeat at our own hands without another to serve as an adversary.

In competition, in order for us to win someone has to lose. When we depend on another’s loss to define ourselves we continue to operate this way when we compete against ourselves, which means we have to ensure we lose in order to win. This in turn creates self-defeating behavior. The best way to ensure we succeed without an adversary is to help others succeed when we are improving our own circumstances. With every other person’s success or failure we can count that toward our own; with the defeat of a thousand people we suffer the death of a thousand cuts. When a thousand people succeed we excel by a thousand steps.

Five of Wands

Five of Wands
A group of boys brandish a set of sticks, raising them in what appears to be an act of showy bravado

When we are actively pursuing our goals and dreams there are times that we will encounter adversity. This adversity sometimes comes in the form of challenges from other people, where there may be a battle of wills, where another person is competing against us for a favorable position in pursuit of the same goal.

It is during these times that we may feel we need to fight harder, to be more aggressive, to be on the offensive a bit more. We believe we need to show our adversaries that we are determined to win, and whatever is thrown at us to keep us back will only make us more determined to become the victor in our battles against them.

This is when we need to be careful not to lose sight of our objective, of what our goals are. The determination to win can become dangerously precarious to eclipsing our actual objective. It can become more important for us to defeat our adversary rather than to accomplish what we set out to achieve. As a result, the energy we put into becoming a fierce competitor ends up siphoning off the energy required to accomplish our goals.

This is not to say competition is detrimental to success. Competition can provide us a bit of extra incentive. It can encourage us to uncover skills, traits, and talents we were not aware we had. It can provide the impetus to develop our abilities that much further, enabling us to excel in striving to meet our purpose. We do best, however, when we allow ourselves to see competition as a friendly rivalry, when we recognize that it is really a game, that there is true value in every loss as well as every win. We can benefit most from the value of competitiveness when we see it as a tool for self-improvement rather than an assessment of our own value based on whether we win or lose.