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.

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Eight of Swords with The World

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

I figure since the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. is a good three months behind us, what better time to refer to it in a blog post?

You know how we get on Thanksgiving day, where we make jokes about hollow legs and eye size disproportionate to stomach size and all that? We sit at the dinner table with 61 serving platters of various dinner items, enough starch content to drive all the dry cleaners in Poughkeepsie out of business, gravy the thickness of aircraft carrier paint playing duck duck goose with every item on your dinner plate, the Jayne Mansfield of turkeys beckoning you with its syringe of tryptophan in its crispy wingtip waiting to plunge it into your plaque-filled corroded carotid artery.

Sounds kind of unappealing on a cold Monday morning in February, doesn’t it? Yet on the fourth Thursday in November we find ourselves inspired by the cheerleaders of team gluttony in their seam strained skirts chanting “More! More! More!” until we find ourselves attempting to make the exhausting ten foot march from table to recliner in the fashion of Templeton during the fair scene in Charlotte’s Web.

Yes, I know. You couldn’t possibly eat another bite of my Thanksgiving analogy, so I’ll get to the point. When we become overindulgently self-serving, when we gorge ourselves on fulfilling our personal desires at the exclusion of others, we can find ourselves immobilized by the acquisitions of our avarice. We become driven by a fear of potential lack so we begin to acquire and hoard. We feel entitled to gain and gain to the point that the stockpiles we have acquired block us from being able to get to the exit of our storeroom.

When we find we have reached a point in our lives, even figuratively, where we feel immobilized, where we seemingly incapable of making any forward progress, it is time to be of service to our neighbor and fellow human being. During those times when we feel stuck we often experience the compulsion to become self-indulgent, perhaps from fear of having to go without, finding ourselves wedged into our own situation, believing all good things might fall outside of our reach.

We are no cornucopia in and of ourselves. Attempting to create movement and direction in our lives by feeding the insatiable hunger of a suffering ego will only further scorch the ground beneath our feet, only deepening the hole in which we stand. We need to offer our talents and gifts in service to our sisters and brothers of this world. What we give always returns to us tenfold, in some form of fulfillment, material or spiritual, and will in turn move us forward in our lives, carried by the gratitude and hearts of the inhabitants that share this world with us.

Four of Coins with Three of Cups

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

When in Rome, right? Or should I say, when in the thick of the holiday season…

As a result, I’m going to address the thousand pound gorilla in a Santa suit that usurps the attention of all other matters this time of year. Yes, folks… it’s the holiday season. Sure, you may be a product of the Judeo-Christian system, or you’re a Pagan that wants your co-opted Yule back, or you’re having your annual Mawlid an-Nabī argument about what day is really Muhammad’s birthday, or you’re a proud secularist who is proclaiming exile from all festivities that smack of religious orientation. However for none except the Christopher McCandlesses of our society there is no escape from the Alcatraz of in-your-faceness that pins your eyes open in A Clockwork Orangeesque style compelling us to involuntarily gaze upon the ubiquity of the season that ’tis.

Let’s not pretend that we haven’t heard the chants of the lighter-than-gravity love and light police that insist that the holidays have become too commercially driven, too much about consumerism, too focused about stuffing our stuff with stuff. I myself have this compulsion to go caroling with these types singing a chorus of “Oh Avarice” at every door which stands behind a portcullis of FedEx and UPS boxes. So in an attempt to sidestep that compulsion while melting in the satisfaction of having taken a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper to that proverbial itch, I’m going to try putting it in a form of a challenge:

How many of us are concerned that giving just one gift to a recipient is tantamount to a slap in the face? How many of us going for a gift that reaches Defcon Spectacular, serving to widen our loved-one’s eyes to the level of cosmetically overworked Hollywood star? Let’s be honest, is it really about the recipient or is it about the flashy neon arrows that we get pointing to us, with our name on the marquis of “Best Christmas Ever” starring Yours Truly?

Let’s try this: Let’s see if we can come up with a gift that can in no way be purchased in order to be presented. The challenge here is not necessarily to toss a cup of water on the forest fire of consumerism; the challenge is to show ourselves that our own personal value is greater than a line item on a VISA statement. The biggest crime with the “stuff” giving paradigm of the holiday season is that we are led to feel inadequate if we can’t provide that certain someone with that certain something.

The challenge is designed to encourage us to find within ourselves our value, one that doesn’t need to be indicated with a pricing gun. If we feel we can offer nothing more than what we can simply purchase, then whatever we end up purchasing will merely contain the amount of love as the Shenzhen factory worker put into it. I believe the intent of this season is for us to shine a light on the joy that resides within each other. We do so by finding the greatest parts of who we are as people and utilizing those parts by giving of ourselves the gifts we were born with rather than the gifts that can be described as “it”.

Anyone with enough good credit can buy a certain something, one that will invariably lose its luster in the blinding light of the next holiday’s trinket. Thing 2 of this season will kill Thing 1 of Christmas past and take its place as the Best Gift Ever while Thing 3 hides amongst the packed away nativity scene laying in wait to make his move next Christmas. Truly the gifts that mean the most to our loved ones are the gifts that we end up taking with us when we are gone.

The Hanged Man with The Star

Quantum Tarot (1.0) by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Quantum Tarot (1.0) by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

As I’m staring at these cards thinking aloud “I have no idea what to make of these cards” to have my wife reply “You say that every week when you draw cards for the blog”, today I find a song starts going through my head.

The song is called “Of These, Hope” by Peter Gabriel off the album Passion, the soundtrack for the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. An appropriate theme music for the blending of these two cards.

In the aforementioned movie (as well as the book by Nikos Kazantzakis from which the film was adapted) our protagonist (guess who that might be) is struggling with having to commit to putting the excruciatingly painful and traumatic exclamation point on this mission, as it were. He was seriously considering how he could get out of it. I mean, it was one of the most torturous executions the Romans had come up with, and on top of it all you had to do it naked.

The Hanged Man wants to clear a few things up about the idea of sacrifice. First of all, there has to be a purpose. Why sacrifice oneself if it benefits no one? At that point you’re just leaving the building rather anticlimactically. There has to be some greater good from it, where we give of ourselves to fertilize the ground so that the cotyledon of hope may break the surface and spring eternal.

Next, one has to give willingly. Jesus couldn’t go to the cross kicking and screaming, like a kid throwing a temper tantrum at bath time or a family that finds out the father is moving them to Florida due to a job transfer. The operative word here is surrender. One has to go into the process of giving of oneself willingly, knowing that the cost of our sacrifice, though seemingly tremendous, is a small price to pay in order to provide so many others with hope and renewed faith that there is good in the world for each and every one of us.

Lastly, if the world is to gain from our sacrifice, there has to be absolutely nothing in it for us. No posthumous awards, no knightings or hopes for being canonized, no vouchers for a free dinner at Black Lobster restaurant. Even the slightest hoping for some sort of quid pro quo in the form of getting the “what a great guy” label will taint our actions and rob them of providing the fullest benefit to their recipients. The gifts might as well be accompanied by a paragraph of the tiny disclaimer print of pharmaceutical ads.

The most powerful form of sacrifice is comprised of willing surrender. It is us giving the gift of hope to another, with no expectation regarding the outcome. We don’t even need to wait for anyone to hold out their hands to accept our gift, we simply need to set it down and turn away, trusting the ones who need it most will surely find it.

The balance between content and inspired

I love inspirational writings. I really enjoy wrapping myself around words that are meant to remind us of all we’re capable of, words that are intended to reach into our souls and awaken our fullest potential, stripping our limits away like slowly peeling, fading wallpaper. Continue reading The balance between content and inspired

Balancing between compassion and dispassion

Is a lack of compassion apathy? Yet is a lack of distance meddling?

In my last post I wrote about allowing people to find their own path. I spoke of allowing people to recognize and endure through their own obstacles. I acknowledged my need to accept the challenges others face as potentially having value for them, as being a source from which they may grow through their own private experiences. Continue reading Balancing between compassion and dispassion

Corporate incentives to give vs. gain

Greed begets greed, I told my coworkers the other day.

This comment came in the midst of a discussion about the failed attempt to break the Superbowl attendance record in Cowboys Stadium last weekend. In their efforts to build an attendance high enough to reach the heavens, God manifested in the form of inspectors that found the additional seating did not pass safety standards. The Tower of Babel that collapsed under the weight of the hubris of Jerry Jones and the NFL resulted in seriously disgruntled fans that were turned away and are demanding to be recompensed. Continue reading Corporate incentives to give vs. gain