One week ago, right about now, I was in a Master Class taught by James Wells. He took us through “The Sharing Process” using deliberately chosen tarot cards to define situations in our lives. He lead us through holding space for each other while we each expressed our challenges and gratitude with the issue we defined. Taking turns and being present with love while the other spoke with honesty was a deep and wonderful way to start this amazing conference.
James went on from there walking us through the stages of grief once again using tarot. We chose from our decks the Major Arcana that we thought represented each stage as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. We mixed them back into the deck and then did a reading for ourselves based on which stage showed up first. There were more questions to ask ourselves about the situation or person we were grieving and more cards drawn and interpreted. For me, at this time, grieving a loss is not an issue. When I went through my cards “Acceptance” was the first card up. (This is why I love tarot so much. It just gets it.) Over the course of my life I have lost quite a few people. When anniversaries come around this reading will be very useful to me. I can imagine it working well with a trusted client as well.
The last part of his class was to use tarot to deal with a Curveball Experience. Sometimes awful things happen suddenly and with no warning. Getting a handle on the situation and to help yourself process it James created the Curveball layout. Again, not apropos to my life right now but the genius and gentle power of it guarantees that it will be in my repertoire should the need arise for myself or a client.
Everything about this class was strong and gentle, just like James himself. His ideas and processes are very loving and brave. Digging deep into yourself in the quest for understanding yourself, your feelings and the best way to process it all is scary work sometimes. James didn’t flinch from this. He lost his beloved father just the past January and yet held space for all of us to do this work.
This class was a truly singular experience that will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you, Sir James.
There are many things that no one tells you about being a parent. It’s not that they are keeping secrets or candy coating the experience. It is simply that there are some things you cannot tell in a way that will make them understood. Some things need to be lived to be understood. Parenting is very much one of those things. We have five children. After each one was born and I was home that first night with our new baby there was a moment when I woke up in the middle of the night to feed the child and felt a bone-deep exhaustion I hadn’t felt since the last child was an infant. I could go on and on describing the feeling but unless you had that same sort of night you won’t really know what I mean. Letting new parents figure this out on their own is not cruel. There really is no other way to know it and that right there pretty much sums up parenting.
One of the many things you find out the hard way is dealing with illness. Try to take care of small children with a stomach virus while you yourself are afflicted and you’ll know what I mean. Thankfully those kind of bugs only last a day or two. Having a few friends and neighbors whose children have disabilities or serious, chronic illnesses keeps the whole stomach virus thing in perspective. So, when Joyful January turned into Germy January I tried to roll with it. I kept the phrase “This too shall pass” in the back of my mind and powered on.
It started when the littlest one came down with what we thought was a cold. She just turned thirteen so it’s not like caring for a frightened toddler. I didn’t give it much thought until the third morning when she wasn’t any better. She was, in fact, worse. I took her to the doctor thinking it might have been strep. He thought it was mono. It wasn’t mono. It wasn’t a cold. It wasn’t the flu. After a whole battery of blood tests we have no idea what it was. All we know is that it was/is a virus and it’s contagious. I like our pediatrician quite a bit. One of the reasons is because when he doesn’t know what the problem is he actually owns that. He is one of the few doctors I ever heard say “I don’t know what this is.” It is actually much more satisfying to hear than some made up diagnosis that means the same thing like ‘non-specific dermatitis’ which is doctor-speak for “I don’t know what caused this rash.”
Joyful January became Germy January and deteriorated into Jammies January which was the point when we gave up pretending and spent our days in our jammies. This past weekend was the first time since Christmas that I actually felt like myself. It was the first time in a month that I had a decent night’s sleep. I haven’t sneezed in a few days. Nothing is runny or swollen or achey. I managed to function at about half power for the last month or so. I didn’t feel well but didn’t really feel sick most of the time. I was sharing this feeling with three teenage girls. (Somehow my husband managed not to catch this. I think he should be studied.) None of us were very productive. The youngest one seems to have had it the worst and missed two weeks of school. The rest of us just went about our days as if we were sleep deprived and on the edge of a cold which is pretty much how it felt. According to the doctor this bug is going around. It isn’t killing anyone, just annoying the hell out of them so it may never get a name. If you catch it then you will know what I mean.
As for Joyful January, I still have all my notes but I’m not sure how I’m going to follow through. It’s obvious that I need a better blogging routine. I will be picking up where I left off with my card of the day on Facebook using the Joie de Vivre Tarot as I intended for the month of January.
Now, I’m going to go clean my house because I haven’t really done that for a month and a half and I just can’t stand it anymore.
February 2nd is Imbolc, the Pagan holy day associated with the goddess Brigid, patroness of poets among many others. She was later turned into St. Brigid, also the patroness of poets. In her honor on this day, for the last few years, many bloggers have posted poetry. I have actually lost track of the original blogger who started this but I like the idea so I’m going to keep doing it. I like to use Irish poets to honor an Irish Goddess/Saint.
The Two Trees
W. B. Yeats
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with metry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.
Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile.
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For ill things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.
(If you’ve come here from Donnaleigh’s blog, welcome and thanks for playing along with the Tarot Blog Hop. If you have no idea what I’m talking about follow the links at the beginning and end of this post and you’ll catch on.)
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” ~ The Buddha
The very first tarot reading I did for someone other than myself, wiped me out. I was surprised actually by how very fatigued I felt after just forty minutes with the cards and a cooperative friend. It seemed out of proportion with the effort I put forth and I didn’t make the connection between the reading and the tiredness until it happened the next time I read for someone else. It was confusing and discouraging. I was eighteen years old and there was a lot I didn’t know about the way energy works. To say I poured myself into those readings would be spot on. In my eagerness to explore tarot, to share and hone my reading skills, I made a fundamental mistake. I used my own personal energy for fuel.
When a candle is lit the wick catches the flame and starts to burn. At the base of the wick, caused by the heat of the flame, a pool of wax forms from the candle itself. This wax travels up the wick and is used as fuel for the flame. If you were to take a piece of wicking that was not part of a candle and lit it on its own it would have only itself to use as fuel and would burn out much quicker than its candled counterpart. In not understanding the energy I was tapping into and how to use it I was that naked wick. One reading would kick my butt. I knew I was doing something wrong. I didn’t know what it was.
As stupid as it seems to me now, I powered through and kept reading for people and sapping my energy each time. I wanted to read tarot. It called to me. I didn’t want to be exhausted all the time. After a dozen or so readings that each required a recovery nap, I put the cards aside. I didn’t give up. I gave in. It was obvious to me that I was doing something wrong but I didn’t even have the language to understand what it might be. I didn’t know where to look for the answer to the question I couldn’t frame.
“Better to light a candle than curse the damn darkness… Fiat Lux!” ~ Willow Rosenberg
The answer came to me months later from a friend who was exploring alternative spirituality. She and I were discussing the most recent book she was reading when she mentioned energy. Something about what she said and how she said it lit me up. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation but I do remember we were on the train on Staten Island heading home from work. In the time it took to go from the ferry to our train station she had given me the solution to my problem. In that fifteen minutes she taught me about grounding and centering. What it was, how to do it and why.
A wick on it’s own doesn’t give much light for long. It’s just a piece of cotton string. Sometimes it burns out shortly after it’s lit. Without the pool of wax to draw from the flame can’t sustain itself. A candle burns best when the wick is properly secured and goes all the way to the bottom of the candle. The pool of wax, the fuel, is more readily and steadily available if the wick is in the center of the candle. Before the candle is lit the wick gets trimmed so the flame will be right-sized.
To read tarot without burning out you need to be like the candle: grounded and centered. Connect your energy to the energy of the earth beneath your feet and the source energy of all. You become more than just a naked piece of string you become the wick. You are a channel for that energy instead of the source of it. Centering brings you into balance within yourself. Just as the wick that is centered in the candle burns best you will use the energy more effectively if you are centered in yourself and in the moment. Clearing away distractions and negative energy is like trimming the wick. It keeps the flame/energy usage in proportion with the flow.
Now, before each reading I take a moment. I connect to the energy of the Earth and invite the energy of the universe in from above. I focus on the flow of this energy within myself in the moment and at the same time take myself out of the equation. I become a conduit for the energy and not the source of it. There is now an actual moment when I feel lit. I can see the light and feel the energy at the same time. I can light a thousand other candles from that light and it still burns as brightly.
(The next blog in the Tarot Blog Hop is Hillary’s. Enjoy! and Thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you again.)
How are you making out without the evening news? Better? Worse? Having news-withdrawal jitters?
I didn’t watch the news at all this week and I still know who won the Iowa Caucus. I don’t actually care who won, because I have election fatigue already. I think the process we use takes way too long and there is only so much I can take of politicians. It’s about thirty seconds worth and they don’t even have to be speaking to wear me out. My point? I actively avoid all the campaigning and the news of all the campaigning and I still know who won in Iowa. Thus, proving that avoiding the evening news won’t cause you to be ignorant and uninformed. Ta Da!
What you feed your mind is as important as what you feed your body. (I keep threatening to embroider that on a pillow.) It is true and it is necessary to understand it as true to step out of the stress and into joy. There has been a lot published and touted about brain chemistry and the effects of chemical imbalances in the brain. For everything that is known there is much that is not. The theory goes that chemicals in your brain affect your mood. That is the underlying belief behind prescriptions for depression and ADD. What is also known but not reported much is that your mood and your thoughts have an effect on your brain chemistry. There are also many who believe that your diet has a significant effect as well. If alcohol can alter your mood and brain chemistry why not any other food? I think a part of the attraction to high fat comfort foods is the chemical alteration that occurs.
But, I’m getting off my point. What you feed your mind is important. You’ve stopped inputting the craziness that is the evening news. That’s great. I made a playlist on youtube.com called Bring in the Joy. The videos included are ones I find particularly effective at getting me out of the present moment and into the space of connectedness and joy. There are only seven videos at the moment. I invite you to send me the links to videos that lift you out of yourself and for that few minutes it’s just you and the music. I want to add them to this playlist.