Three of Pentacles with Seven of Swords

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

Raise your hand if you know a single person that believes all men are jerks or all women are superficial or some other unflattering generalization. We all know that person who has decried every member of the gender to which they normally date to equally and universally have a debilitating character flaw, one that prevents them from finding Mr. or Ms. or M. Right.

Have you ever tried to talk that friend down from the ledge of hyperbole using rough math? I have. I tried it on myself when I was disgruntledly single. We may have seen this broken down in a sitcom perchance. It involves eliminating each subset of the population that is not technically eligible for dating based on gender, age, relationship status, proximity or place of residence, etc. The most common number I had arrived at was an average of 150,000 dateable people, adjusting for the population of where one happens to live in the U.S.

The trouble with using this technique on the cynically lovelorn and such is that they have a poor grasp of mathematical concepts. It’s not simply that they cannot imagine finding one good edible apple in a batch of 150,000. I don’t know… I have to admit, looking through that many apples is far from appealing, especially if many of the ones I find are mealy or worm ridden or Braeburns. Perhaps our friend dated a person with the last name Braeburn, I don’t know, and they left a bad taste in their mouth much like the apple of the same name. I think they fail to understand the concept of the common denominator.

Whenever we find ourselves having difficulty dealing with a certain type of person, we automatically think it is that shared aspect that makes them untrustworthy, be it the type of job they have, their likes for a certain type of sport, their income bracket, their hair color, their political party affiliation… any number of aspects we can put into boxes and apply labels. What we become blind to is identifying the labelmaker.

We will indicate that particular class or character trait and brazenly declare that its possessors are inherently flawed with unwavering certainty. Yet we fail to see that, while not everyone shares our particular perspective, the “truth” in our perspective shares a common source. You see, I am a huge champion of the principle of the reflective property of others; as we deal with people the way we perceive and regard them tells us as much about ourselves, if not more, than it does the other people.

When we believe all X types are not to be trusted, it is due to a lack of trust in our own character. When we see all people of a particular religion, faith, political party, or sorority as being just plain wrong or stupid or greedy or any other preferred ad hominem, we are expressing a deep seated fear of being wrong or appearing foolish. The aspersions we cast on an entire subset of people stems from the grain of sand within that we attempt to disavow as an irritant, surrounding it with our mother-of-pearl to insulate ourselves from the discomfort of introspection. Yet this irritant remains locked in the pearl that we proudly display in the form of self-righteousness toward ourselves and our types. We seem to forget that in the heart of every pearl is a bit of dirty silicate sea floor grit.

I had a former neighbor tell me his vicious dog liked everyone except other dogs and people. With each exception we take with a given type of people we are avoiding acknowledging the exceptions within we are afraid to face to prevent from having to do anything about them.

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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.

Seven of Wands

Seven of Wands
A man stands elevated in defense against the onslaught of several attackers below

The process of manifestation begins by knowing what we want to attract into our lives. Once we are on the path to creating our desired outcome for ourselves, it is not uncommon for us to have our intentions challenged by others who question our desires.

As we find ourselves working toward our given goals, we may find ourselves having to defend our intentions in the face of external criticisms and doubts. Others might consider our choices foolhardy or unrealistic. They might feel that they have a better idea than we do as to what might be a beneficial outcome for us. When this occurs we may feel that we do not need to defend ourselves against these onslaughts, only to find our silence merely welcomes continued criticism. Continue reading Seven of Wands