Category: tarot


Humans are messy.  We’re a complicated layering of insight and ignorance, faith and fear, power and surrender.  We contain a multitude of contradictions and paradox, and all in varying degrees of expression.

To help us untangle the mess and see the strands for what they are, we work with archetypes — pure, distilled versions of the components that make up the human experience.  Religions do this with different gods (the Greek and Roman systems, Hinduism, Druid/Pagan, the orisha of the Yoruba…), allowing us to see a single aspect of ourselves reflected in the image of a particular deity.  Details of the deity’s life and actions can help us see parallels in ourselves, reminding us of the power and possibilities we can access by following that particular thread of our being.

I’ve found this same gift with the Tarot.  The cards offer a filter through which I can look at my life, highlighting specific aspects that I can access within myself, and draw upon for inspiration and focus.  This morning, I got the 5 of cups, the Star, and the Empress. The 5 of cups speaks directly to an experience I’m having right now of disappointment and grieving something that I’ve had to let go of, a dream that started to take shape and then melted away again.  Seeing this card this morning was a kind of validation for those feelings, and helped me acknowledge and honor the experience for what it is.

The meaning deepened, however, when I looked at all three cards together.  (When I pull a card in the morning, I shuffle until a card or two, or three, literally jump out of the deck.)  The Star is a card of finding relief and healing after chaotic changes, from the light that shines in the darkness.  The Empress is the nurturing mother, source of all abundance and a limitless fountain of love.  Looking at the 3 cards, I saw a journey of being present to disappointment and grief, moving forward by acknowledging the light that is always there, and stepping into a confident open heart that serves the world joyfully and without reservations.

As I reflected on the cards, I noticed that all of the images involved flowing water.  In the first, the woman cries over the water spilling from the cups, lamenting its loss.  In the second, water pours from the woman’s hands in an infinite flow.  In the third, a waterfall churns behind her.  From a belief of limits and loss, I move forward into knowing I have all I need within me.  And then I allow myself to trust that it’s not only within me, but all around me, an endless source of which I am a part.

5 Cups (World Spirit deck)   Star (World Spirit deck)   Empress (World Spirit deck)

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After a full and fairly exhausting weekend, I found myself zoning out and shutting down last night.  This morning I still felt tired and burned out.   I pulled a tarot card, and got one that indicated hope and encouragement.  I smirked cynically at it.  “Any card can be read hopefully – it’s all just psychological bullshit.”

Going into the rest of my day with this perspective seemed like an awful idea, so I mustered up some energy for self-reflection.  My running mantra this morning seemed to be “there’s no meaning in any of this”, so I asked myself “what is meaningful to me?  What’s important?”

I sat with the question, feeling around for an answer that didn’t feel superficial.  Finally, clarity came.  It didn’t come in words, but a feeling in my body, relaxing and opening.  This.  Being open.  Letting myself be moved by something greater than me.  Being a source of love.  Being a blessing to anyone I encounter today.  I don’t have to know the plan – just love, and let the rest unfold accordingly.

 

Whew.

 

A woman came up to me after I gave a workshop yesterday, and said she really didn’t like her job as an accountant.  She asked me for advice on what she should do about that.  I encouraged her to use her discontent to drive her question to herself of what she does want.  I asked her if she knew what she wanted to be doing instead, and she said she had no idea.  I suggested sitting with that question whenever she felt frustrated with her current job, trusting that an answer will come.  She said thanks and walked away, but she didn’t seem satisfied.

After my experience this morning, I would add something else to my answer to her.  The details of what we do with our life aren’t as important as the how we live, the spirit from which we act.  If I could talk with her again, I’d suggest asking herself the same questions I asked myself this morning: “What’s meaningful to me?  What’s important?  What’s at the heart of life?”  Then, look for opportunities to use her answer to guide her through the day.  Maybe she’d find meaning in her job.  Or maybe she’d find an opportunity for other work that inspires her.  Maybe both.  At the very least, maybe she’d find some of the peace that I found this morning.

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As I was looking for images to go along with this post, I found this one (below) from MLK, Jr. that takes it to another level… a great reminder for me this morning as I think about my work in the world.

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One of the benefits of working at a church is having open access to sacred space.  We have a meditation room here that’s open 24 hours a day, and it rarely gets used.  I’ve made it my routine to start my day here, to walk into this beautiful, open room with large windows on two walls, and have some time to myself before I start work.

I only started doing this when I began attending seminary, and a daily spiritual practice was a commitment we made, part of our “homework”.  It took me weeks of setting the alarm for 5:30am, and then pressing snooze until 7, to realize that getting up in the morning before everyone else wasn’t going to work for me.  I finally decided that I could take half an hour after dropping off my daughter at school, before stepping into my office in the morning.  Sometimes I meditate, sometimes do yoga, dancing, or writing, or some combination of those.  I almost always begin or end with pulling a card.  This practice feeds me in amazing ways, helping me start my day with focus, intention, and a reminder of the real work I’m here to do.

Yesterday, I knew I had a meeting in the afternoon that would be emotionally tricky.  A co-worker wanted to take over an exciting project we had developed together, and we had already had one very intense and emotional conversation about it.  I hadn’t been thinking about the meeting much throughout my morning in the meditation room, until I sat down to pull a card.  “What do I want insight on today?” is a question I often ask myself when I get out the cards, and the answer came up in me clear and strong, remembering the meeting.  I took a deep breath and shuffled the cards gently, looking for the one that would jump out.  After a few patient minutes of sifting the cards, two poked up like they were raising their hands to be called on in class.  I pulled them out, set the other cards aside, and looked at the images.

I had the 9 of Wands and the Queen of Pentacles.  The 9 of Wands indicates defensiveness, having one’s finger on the trigger and ready to fight, to stubbornly protect what one has.  The Queen of Pentacles relaxes peacefully on her garden throne, generously sharing her abundance because she knows the secrets of a deeper source.  Because of her knowledge of the “magic” of the natural world, she is confident in her ability to get what she needs, and what she wants.

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I saw these cards as representing 2 of my options for the meeting.  The last time we met about the project, I had quickly gotten defensive and fearful of loosing a project that was important to me.  I clenched my fist around it and got angry.  In the following weeks, I worked through my experience and untangled my thoughts and emotions, and came to some clarity about what I wanted.  I found the pathways out of my defensiveness (again and again).

The cards reminded me of the choice I would get to make that afternoon, and in that moment in the meditation room, I chose.  I turned over the 9 of Wands and focused my attention on the Queen of Pentacles.  I breathed in, and let myself feel her energy spread throughout my body.  I let myself become her, knowing that the Tarot represents archetypes that we all carry within us all the time.  It wasn’t anything the card itself imparted into me, just a reminder that I could let that aspect come forward and take prominence.

I kept the card propped up at my desk all day.  I held the image in my mind as I walked down the hallway for the meeting.  During the meeting when I noticed myself getting defensive, the image of the 9 of Wands flashed in my mind, and I mentally turned the card over and brought up the image of the Queen of Pentacles.  As I spoke, I held her image lightly in my mind, reminding me (again and again) of the power of self-trust and generosity that come from confidence in the deepest source.

I listened with compassion, and I spoke with intention.  We explored options together, and agreed to move forward by trying something new.  This is the work of collaboration, of creative problem solving,  and it takes effort, strength, and trust.  It’s not easy.  The tarot was my tool yesterday, helping me move more into being who I want to be — who I know I can be, when I don’t get tangled up in fear and ego.  The evocative images help us connect with potent archetypes of human possibility, and remind us of the larger journey we’re on.

Read more on my work with tarot here.

Even on January 7, folks are still recovering from the New Year’s Eve party.  The physical recovery was easy enough with the 80 degree (F) weather on New Year’s Day.  People gathered in the courtyard to sit in the grass in shorts and tank tops, drink carrot juice (quite a treat with homegrown organic carrots), and play music and sing and enjoy living on a commune.  Quite the vision of utopian life… whatever hangovers still lingered were melted away by the sunshine and commune love…

The real recovery is of the “I can’t believe that really happened/did that really happen?” variety.  The party was an extraordinary experience, and now people are figuring out how to move on with reality.  Maybe it’s just me… I had an amazing time on New Year’s Eve, and now I’m looking at how to incorporate all that happened then into my daily life now.

The New Year’s party is a time out of time.  It’s culturally developed into a space of unlimited possibility.  Twin Oakers anticipate the experience of wild magic, and create a collective energy that allows anything to happen.  Old relationships are rekindled, emotional wounds are spontaneously healed, and vibrant new connections are formed.  Dance music plays from 8pm until at least 4am, and the dance floor vibrates with raw energy — sometimes packed to capacity, other times vacated for a spectacle of performace by a few wild people.  Musicians filter in and out of the acoustic music room, the ladder to the “cuddle loft” is often occupied, and an upstairs living room hosts the “Temple of Oracles” where folks can go for tarot and rune readings by empaths, healers, and wise ones.

Ex-members come home, some even flying halfway around the world to be here on Dec 31.   Friends and other guests come for the experience too, so the community is full of people we don’t usually get to see.  The days leading up to New Year’s Eve help build the energy, as more people arrive and the excitement amplifies as we welcome more people we love into our home.  A friend and lover of mine came down from Massachusetts, my ex-member partner who lives down the road was here, and Pax —  who has been travelling for the past six months — was home for 4 days before jetting off to Europe again.  All this, in addition to the ex-members and other friends who made it out here for the party.  What a full life!

The party was extraordinary for me for a few key reasons.  I had a reconciliation with someone who I’ve had some friction with for the past year.  He and I had been getting close early on in our friendship, and then we both started to distance ourselves when things got complicated.  He and I ended up on the dance floor together in an intense dance that evolved into quite a fantastic spectacle — we’re both “contact improv” enthusiasts and we ended up doing lots of acrobatics together, rolling around and throwing each other alll over the place.  We ended up in a tangle on the floor and hugged, and he whispered to me “Let’s learn from our past mistakes.”  Then we both jumped up and started dancing, and I smiled and laughed uninhibitedly.   We shared a sweet kiss later on in the evening, and I’m excited about the potential for our deepening connection.  Part of my “party recovery” has been checking in with him about his experience of us that night, and finding out to my delight that he’s also interested in exploring a deeper connection.   I also had lovely moments with other friends — jubilant declarations of appreciation and affection, and intense confessions of respect and admiration.  Seeing these people around the commune in the past few days has been fantastic, reconnecting with that energy of love from the party.

The party was also an experience of much of the inner work I’ve been doing for the past 6 months (uh… 10 years?) coming to fruition.  Something about the extraordinary “carnival” nature of the party (time out of time) helped me allow myself to BE who I’ve been TRYING TO BE.  I got rid of the trying, and just did it.  In the midst of the experience, I took a step back for some brief analysis (so I could have a better understanding of it later, outside of the context of the party).  I realized that I allow myself to be more free when I don’t feel responsible for the experience of other people.  When I trust other people to take care of themselves emotionally, I can act from a more authentic and clearer place.  AND, when i don’t make myself responsible for other people’s experiences, I also don’t make other people responsible for my experience.  If I’m not enjoying myself, it’s completely within my capabilities to change how I’m engaging with a situation — I don’t have to blame anyone for my dissatisfaction; I can simply choose to shift my
participation in whatever it is.

An example of this for me was when I was engaged in a conversation with a woman at the party.  I realized pretty soon into the conversation that I wasn’t very interested in talking with her, and that I actually wanted to be talking with other folks across the room.  I noticed myself trying to make a graceful escape, and getting bitter at her for not taking my subtle hints.  I didn’t like being bitter with her (I actually like her!), so I decided just to be clear.  I smiled, and said “I really want to connect with some people over there — have a great night”.  I hugged her and moved away.  I felt GREAT having communicated what was really true for me instead of trying to negotiate through social conventions.  I don’t want to put my energy into trying to figure out the best way to take care of people.  I just want to say what’s most true for me and go forward from there.

Of course, the broader view is that I DO care about how my actions impact people and I don’t want to ignore my effect on the people around me.  This “New Year’s Revelation” is mostly about moving in a  direction on a spectrum — I’ve been so focused on taking care of other people to the point of not taking care of myself.  I see the freedom in taking responsibility for my experience and giving other people the space to take responsibility for their experiences, and I want to cultivate that more in my life, while still maintaining a deep awareness of what’s happening around me (and within me!).

so that was my New Year’s experience.  We’re all getting back to business here now, as the ex-members head home to their post-commune lives and we get back to figuring out our drastically-reduced finances for 2005.  There’s still a feeling of festiveness in the air as we head into this weekend.   One member, Sean, is having an art opening at a gallery in town and 40 people from the community are going in to support him tonight.  Some folks are making treats, and our own homegrown Klezmer band (the Vulgar Bulgars) are going to play.  I’m warmed so sweetly by the care people here show to fellow communards, especially around individual pursuits like this (though admittedly, this isn’t always the case… just to be honest).  And tomorrow night is the first performance of the play we’ve been rehearsing for two months — The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.  It’s an intense emotional drama, and I’m excited to share it with the community.  We’ve taken over one of the larger living rooms (the same one used for the New Year’s party, in fact!) and converted it into a theater.  We’ve got stage lights and everything!  For those of you who know the show, I play Tillie.  For those of you who know me, it’s quite a challenging role for this former cheerleader, the character’s personality highlight being restrained exuberance.

well, I hope this post satiates all you hungry readers who I’ve slightly neglected for the past couple months.   Carry on your merry ways, and enjoy yourselves.