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Archive for August, 2008

Let’s kick off this blog with something I didn’t expect to have a lot of: Tarot. I’ve been doing one card readings for friends on a whim, and receiving amazing insights from them, both as related to the situation being read for and the card itself.

So here is the first of what will likely become an ongoing series of insights from the Tarot. I am not a master reader, and I haven’t devoted my life to the cards. I am, however, a witch, a mystic, and someone who listens. I am quite familiar with the cards, and they often speak to me (or my godsoul speaks to me about them).

Without further ado, I offer the first One Card Reading…

The Wheel of Fortune

After I pulled this card for my friend, she asked me a question that struck me as kind of odd: “Do you see it as a good card or a bad card?”

All at once I was filled with thoughts about the preconceptions around Tarot cards and how often I, even with my less-than-expert level of experience, have seen those ideas shattered. It would be hard to read the cards without some previous idea of what each card means, which is the biggest stumbling block for beginners (“I could never remember the meanings of 78 cards!”). At some point, though, the dictionary we’ve built up becomes a chain that lashes us down to old ideas about the cards and can sometimes bar us from grasping the more in-depth message that our reading, or even an individual card, is attempting to relay to us. This same concept applies to areas beyond divination, as well.

The Wheel is almost always thrown into the “good card” pile. One interpretation I’ve heard often enough is “There’s no way to go but up.”* The Wheel, then, is a message of hope and improvement. Usually this improvement comes without much effort on the part of the querent. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but wheels turn down as readily as they turn up. In fact, you can’t have one without simultaneously having the other. The Wheel turns, something waxes, something wanes; something is lifted and something falls.

Suddenly this “card of hope” seems more like a card of subjugation! My friend, in fact, told me that she sees it as a lack of control. Her life seemed to be out of control at the moment, with forces far too big to reign in converging against her. It’s so easy, when this type of opposition arises, to feel swept away, lost, and frustrated. Her interpretation of this card really seemed to embody her present situation.

It was clear to me, however, that The Wheel had a deeper message here. We come to the cards with the intent of receiving advice. If we’re open to that advice, it will always be there for us. So my interpretation of The Wheel of Fortune, while similar on the surface, provided an entirely different message.

I wouldn’t say that the message is of a lack of control any more than I would say we lack control over the weather or the seasons. We do not control these things, it’s true. But do we lack control over them? To say that we lack control implies that we have lost control, or that we should have control over something but do not. The Wheel of Fortune is a card that speaks of natural cycles and their steady, patient trek from the place where they begin to the place where they begin again. Is this something that we are meant to control? Is it something that we should expect to be able to grab by the horns and redirect? The Wheel seems to indicate otherwise.

The Wheel reminds us of the natural ebbs and flows that occur in our lives. People have a tendency to associate the negative things in life with a general sort of judgment. The universe is out to get me! The gods are laughing at me! Karma! Curses! Bad luck! All of this is almost always accompanied by “Why me??” as if some cosmic force had looked through its scope and placed the crosshairs directly on your head.

No, there is no judgment. What we are really talking about here is cycle, and consequence, and natural law. The universe is simply being a universe and doing what universes do. Everything happening within the universe is a result and a condition of the way things work within the universe. We are all subjects to universal law. Alan Watts said that we are all functions of the galaxy. We are what the galaxy does. To extrapolate further, the galaxy is what the universe does. And our thoughts and our cells are what we do. We are caught up in the flow of a myriad of cycles ranging from cell respiration to galactic rotation. Without these cycles, we couldn’t exist. We’d have nothing. So why choose to fight the cycles?

And that question brings us back to the two unfortunate interpretations of The Wheel of Fortune which we started with: things are bound to get better, and things are completely out of your control. In a sense, both of these are reasonable understandings. But they are incomplete. We latch onto them because we take everything so personally. If The Wheel means “don’t worry, things will get better,” then we can allow ourselves to relax and stop making effort. If, on the other hand, it means “You’re in the shit, now! Ain’t nothin’ you can do!” then we are equally allowed to give up responsibility and simply resign ourselves to failure.

But The Wheel isn’t telling us to stop trying or caring or doing our work. It is only trying to remind us to be present in the moment and recognize the natural and cyclical forces that are at work in and around us all the time. It reminds us to work with these forces, rather than against them; to accept things the way they are and then start from there rather than pining for a different set of circumstances.

The Wheel of Fortune says that life will go on, that things will not always be this way, and that, right now, they are exactly the way they should be.

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Rite of Thanks

It’s a beautiful, cool mornining and I’m taking it easy. In about an hour I’ll be at work, and the temperature will rise, and the sun will flare. For now, though, I am thankful. In that spirit of gratitude and contentment, I offer my first post.

When I lead a ritual in a group, or even if I only have a part in the planning, I always start off with a Rite of Thanks. It seems fitting to start my new blog off in the same way. The Rite of Thanks comes just before a ritual begins – before sacred space is created or acknowledged, before any type of grounding meditation. I’ve found that, every time, it helps participants to relax, open up, and move into the proper mindset before a ritual. Just the fact that everyone involved goes through this internal shift can really transform the energy of the place and helps to get your space ready for the work you are about to do, as well.

I will write more about Rites of Thanks later. For now, let me give you a very simple rite that you can do on your own. All you need for this rite is a stick of incense, something to light it with, and something to hold it for you after it’s lit.

Incense Stick

Hold an unlit stick of incense in your hand. Take a breath. Allow yourself to move into a feeling of gratitude. Say, “I am thankful for…” and speak one thing that you really feel gratitude about. It can be big, like a new love, or small, like the taste of your favorite food. Anything you have been greatful for is appropriate, so long as it’s personal and specific. Please don’t say “I am thankful for everything and nothing.” Make it something very real to you,

Take another breath. Light your incense. Speak another thing which you are grateful for. It can be related to the first one, or not. Just speak the name of something that brings you happiness, joy, contentment, or safety. Allow the gratitude to ignite within you as you ignite the incense in your hand.

Take one more breath. Blow out the incense. See its smoke begin to rise and speak a third statement of thanks. Take in the scent and acknowledge that it has been released in the name gratitude. Say, “For all these things I am grateful, and truly blessed.” Place the incense in its holder and allow it to burn itself out. Each time you catch a bit of the scent, allow yourself to be reminded of that which you are greatful for.

This exercise is meant to be easy and life-affirming. If you are unable to think of just three small things which you can be grateful for, it’s almost certainly not because they don’t exist in your life! Spend some attention throughout the day looking for even the smallest things which bring you what you want or need.

What are you greatful for?

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