Ashes to Ashes

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It is cross quarter time again. Imbolc finds me wanting to juice and eat fresh veggies. I have been overindulging on comfort foods through the Winter. I also have the strong compulsion to purge and clean the house. I have cleaned my altars, made several trips to Goodwill and have eaten so many greens that my bunnies are jealous. While I purge in these ways I naturally think of things I need to let go of mentally emotionally and spiritually.

All of which makes perfect sense when you remember that this portion of the year corresponds to the balsamic phase of the moon. This is a time when we choose the seeds we plant at the Spring Equinox.  We are winnowing out our obligations and choosing goals for the coming year. The theme is purification. What can be more purifying than fire?

So I took to the fire pit. I reconsecrated my outdoor medicine wheel, and built a sacred flame on a cold and blustery night. The dry leaves that cling to the trees rustle in the wind, the clouds whip across the sky giving glimpses of the moon. I set white candles at the quarters and cross quarters and lit my fire.

Into my fire went winter wood shed by the trees on my property and every herb and incense that I had in my home. Frankincense, Dragon’s Blood, Mint, Salt, Black Pepper, Rosemary, Pine, Cedar, Cinnamon, Sage, Allspice, Cumin, Citronella, Paprika, Cardamom, Fennel, Mustard, Coriander, Clove, Ginger, Orange, Apple,… this may not be a complete list but you get the picture. I basically smudged my entire neighborhood.

I was taught to feed the fire with my hopes, fears and goals and allow it to work its magic and transform them. I now hold that awareness in anticipation of the coming year. Last year was filled with a lot of loss and change. I intend to consciously take what I have learned and use it to make needed adjustments. One of the ways that I do this is by saving the ashes from this sacred fire for ceremonial use now and throughout the year.

Some of the ways you can use your ashes: black salt, anointing doors and windows, marking property lines, talismanic symbol of transformation, use in and on candles. If you were unable to set a fire on the actual day, no worries. You have until the Spring Equinox to do this. That is the beauty of the Wheel of the Year. The Quarters and Cross Quarters of the Cosmic Clock are slices of time beginning at the an astrological event until the wheel turns again.

It is never too late to make a fresh start, create the life you want and to be the best version of yourself.

 

Blessed Imbolc, Everyone.

The Place Where God Dwells

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I recently acquired a deck in french and was surprised while sorting through the cards to find THE TOWER going by the name of LA MAISON DE DIEU. Of course, the wheels begin to turn…

The Tower: sudden and cataclysmic change, ultimately for the better but painful and dramatic, paradigm shift, chaos, a psychotic break, your entire world falling down around you, The Great Depression with people jumping out of windows, house fire, 9/11, losing a job, betrayal, Icarus flying to close to the Sun, Mars, War, highly motivated, aggressive, Mouth, harsh and hateful word spoken in hast. Soon you begin to feel like a BING commercial where the image stirs an endless free association with one possible interpretation after the other.

It is thought to harken back to The Tower of Babel where the peoples of the world sought to built a tower reaching to the very dwelling place of God. They would have succeeded. But ultimately, were struck down for their audacity and cursed with speaking different languages. So that, they may never again challenge the supremacy of God. I invite you to ponder with me an alternative narrative.

It is easy to see how this might correspond to the allegory of the Fool on his journey of self discovery. In order to know ourselves better, we must dare not only to embrace reality but then be willing to see beyond those filters and notions to a Truth that our minds, in this moment, can not conceive. To reach with trembling hands, to touch the Divine part of our consciousness. That part of ourselves that is not focused solely on the myopic details of everyday life: work, pay bills, go to the grocery, etc.  We are a fish taken out of the aquarium, not knowing how and possibly unable to breathe or exist for any period of time in this environment.

In ancient times, places that were struck by lightning were consider blessed, holy places. The same was true of people, if they survived. Were we to attempt to dwell in this state, we would be consumed. I suppose that is the admonition of this card. There is much to be gained but once aquired, your life will never be the same. Being touched by God has its risks.

This is why I see this as an epiphany card. We momentarily touch inspiration and then find ourselves back on the path once more. We see and understand all of reality as a tapestry that is woven in an ongoing act of creation. This expanded awareness takes us to The Star where Hope and Trust buoy us up as we take on the hidden and darker aspects of ourselves with The Moon.

That is why it is so very important to read another book, take another class, talk to another fellow reader and acquaint yourself with new decks. There is always more to learn, more connections to be made and more to see in the mirrors of the Tarot.

 

 

 

 

The World Journey

The second class in my Living Tarot Series was the major arcana card The World. Walk the path with us.

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The World by Pixie Smith

As you take three deep breaths you exhale and with each exhale you become more and more centered, more and more conscious of your expanded awareness.

In your mind’s eye you see yourself sitting at a well. You know that you are there with purpose. What that purpose is may be unclear but this moment is full of promise. You  notice a soft touch on your shoulder. And look up into the face of a Woman shrouded in black. In her hand she holds a pomegranate and offers you the seeds. You take a few, eat them. Eating the seeds because you will need to come back here for a time. Time and time again. To learn about more and more about yourself.

You rise and silently follow her into the mouth of a nearby cave. As you ascend the Tree of Life, so you also find yourself traveling down, down. down into the underworld of your own unconscious mind. She carries a torch whose light flickers and gutters, casting shadow murals upon the walls of wet stone. What do you see there? What do you feel here?

The torch gutters once more and goes out. You are in complete darkness… alone.

You must move forward ever forward. Turning back is not an option now. And as you do slowly, ever so slowly you become aware that the sides of the cave are closer, closer, closer.. More and more narrow. Pressing close and tight until you feel you are stuck and you can not move any further. You  might feel your pulse quicken or maybe you can hear your heartbeat grow ever louder. You suspect that here in the dark your subconscious lies in wait for you. You say to yourself…

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”― Frank Herbert, Dune

Suddenly you  find yourself floating in the ocean,  The Waters of Life, looking up at the ebullient Moon.  Suspended between Heaven and Earth. The Moon is large, so large that it if you reach your hand out to touch it you just might be able to.

You slowly, ever so slowly find that you are dissolving  into and become one with the ocean of the collective unconscious. Heaven on Earth are here and now in this moment with no separation. As Above So Below.  Releasing the illusion of separateness,  All is One. Tikkun Olam, in this place you gather all the pieces of yourself back together healing yourself and healing The World.

When you are ready you may open your eyes.

Malkuth Journey

To close each session of my series Living Tarot there is a guided mediation. It brings together all the information we have discussed and integrates it in on both a conscious and unconscious level.

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As we take three deep breaths we exhale and with each exhale we become more and more grounded. With each exhale we visualize strong, deep; roots going down, down, down, into the Earth. We feel centered and plugged in.

 

We have always wanted this sense of connection and Oneness. Now we know that it has always been there just below our conscious awareness.

 

This sense of unity begins to slowly differentiate itself. We can feel the presence of the planet Earth as if this living breathing being is aware of us. Surrounding us in the warm, comforting colors of citrine, olive, russet and black. We can feel and hear the resonant vibrations of the Earth as she sing to us.

 

Here in this sacred place we are acutely aware of the four elements and how each of them are present inside us.

 

Our bodies made of clay tethers us to this time and space. And like the Earth bursting forth with flowers in the Spring so we create and manifest reality.

 

Our blood in sympathy with water as it rushes through our veins like waves crashing on a shore.

 

Our breath passing in and out of our lungs shares its essence with the breeze that rustles the leaves in the trees.

 

Our spirit a spark of fire within us and as we gaze across the surface of the Earth we see thousands upon thousands of other sparks, just like ours twinkling on and inside the Earth. Beyond that to the Stars shining down on us from far, far away.

 

And now we become aware of the guardians of the Earth. The Archangels holding vigil at the four corners of the Earth

 

In our mind’s eye we turn to the East and there Gabriel stands bearing messages. x4

 

To the South Michael stands sword aloft protecting all from harm. x4

 

To the West Uriel stands offering us crystal clear insight into our hearts and minds.x4

 

To the North Raphael stands bringing healing x4

 

And presiding over all Sandalphon Prince of Prayer carrying our aspirations to the Ain Soph Ur the Limitless Eternal Light.

 

And now we stand arms upraised, open to receive all the Divine Emanations.

We are a cup overflowing with joy.

 

In our joy we find the Divine Names on our lips and we say…

Adonai Melek- Lord King x10

Adonai ha Aretz- Lord of the Earth x10

Jehezkel Malkuth-God Strengthens his Kingdom x10

Shekinah x10
We carry this Attitude of Joy and Oneness into our daily lives sensing an ever growing relationship with ourselves and All Our Relations.

The Vertigo Tarot

The Vertigo Tarot

I gave this deck

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You need not have an encyclopedic knowledge of Vertigo Comics to appreciate this deck but it will lend a degree of depth that would be lost on the uninitiated. My hubby is the my Comic World adviser.

The introduction by Neil Gaiman was a delight to read. To be honest, I would read anything thing he wrote with rapt attention and would be overjoyed to listen to him read the telephone book. So as you can see I am predisposed to love this deck based on his collaboration.

I adore Rachel Pollack and have for years recommended her book Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom to my tarot students. Her introduction is a great primmer on the history of the tarot and its modern usage.  I had no idea that she had written for Doom Patrol.

She describes this deck well when she says, “The qualities involved include dark fantasy, sophisticated characterization, a sense of irony, and self aware wit.” The imagery is stunning, as if it were plucked straight from the Collective Unconscious. Artist, Dave Mckean’s images are a combination of painting and photo collage. They capture the etheric quality a dream that you can just barely fathom.

Pollack’s insights into the interpretations of several of the cards were mind expanding, even for someone steeped in the study. Other changes were made to the traditional associations of cards where no explanation was given. Instead of having these associations presented as cannon it would have been more advantageous to highlight the differences and explain the changes she chose to make.

It is the nature of the tarot that as you work with it you will naturally begin to make your own associations.  We could have learned so much more had this been explained in detail. Maybe this deck is intended for the seasoned reader who could follow Pollack down her path with ease. But I am inclined to think that it could cause confusion for a new reader. However, her thoughts later in the book may shed some light on her chosen approach. “We see that dark fantasy, the sense of mystery and strangeness. Instead of neatly explaining the secrets of the universe, as some occult decks have tried to do, they open us to the fear and wonder of our lives.”

 In her I have found a philosophical sister. She states “No matter how uncannily a tarot reading reflects our lives, it does not take away our freewill. A reading may show the way things are heading, but it does not determine what happens. The real purpose of a reading should be to increase our choices by increasing our knowledge and understanding.” Yeah verily. My experience leads me to believe that the most powerful use for the Tarot is one of self reflection. When I was reading professionally I had a disclaimer posted.

” Querents are recognized as Co Creatrix(tor) of their reality. Readings are meant to illuminate options and empower personal choice.”

That Big Bookstore in the Sky

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I am in mourning,

Yesterday, I walked into the  remains of a bookstore that has now been turned into a University tee shirt shop. There were only traces of its former self. It has been so long since I have been in a brick and mortar bookstore. I had forgotten what it felt like. Truth be told, there are not that many of them anymore.

The closest thing to a temple for me and my bookish family is a bookstore or a library. The bookmarks, stationary, journals, and as far as the eye can see books on every subject. The smell of coffee in the air, a warm cuppa tea in your hands. Sounds just like heaven to me.

My fondest memories are of working in a local bookstore during my 20s. I loved that we were building some thing together and that everyday was a new adventure. You never knew who was going to come in the front door. We always said that “If we just wrote all this down, we could make a million dollars.”. Of course we didn’t. We were in the moment, relishing just being there and doing what we were doing. What I loved most was helping our patrons find what they needed. I felt like we were a staple in the community. When people needed answers they came to us. We did not tell them the answers but we help them figure it out for themselves.

So much of that has been taken over by the internet. We do not need to pop over to the bookstore to search for information on any given topic? It is at our fingertips. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love, the easy access to information. I think that it is a great equalizer. There has never been a time in history where so many have had access to so much. If I want, I can read and learn about what my ancestors could never conceive.

I think the challenge is to find new ways to connect with one another. Social media is a great tool. There are people and places that I have formed connections to that would never have been possible just a few years ago. But it does not feel the same.

Print media is just a tool of a bygone era like the telegraph or gas lighting. Maybe I am just feeling nostalgic. It is always like this. It is no surprise. I felt the same way about cassette tapes and compact discs. I have really great memories connected with them. But I will form new and meaningful memories with new technology. I just need a little time for my heart to catch up with my head. Close friends remember my skepticism of e-books and now I can not imagine my life without them.

If it is true that we create our own paradise when we go, you will know where to find me. I know my bookstore will be waiting to welcome me with open arms.

Choose Wisely

All my life I have had strangers saunter up to me and do one of two things. They either tell me their deepest darkest secrets or they ask me intensely personal questions. This usually throws me off balance and I wonder at the liberty of it all. But lately, I realize this happens because that is the intention of my Life. I strive to live authentically and I long to have meaningful relationships and conversations with those around me. That can be intense when most people you meet take you up on your offer.

I had a stranger turn around at a concert and ask if I was a member of a coven. I told her no, but that I understood why she would ask me that. I do have a blue crescent moon tattoo in the middle of my forehead. Turns out, she is new in town and trying to connect with the Atheist community in Nashville. She was stunned at the anger she found here. She came from the Midwest where there was a much more relaxed attitude about religion. I suggested that the culture of the Bible Belt breeds contention and makes it difficult to form bonds of mutual respect. When life is a series of either /or choices there is no middle ground to be found.

I said that the Atheists would not have me due to my interest in the metaphysical side of life. And I could be roasted within the Metaphysical community for my non-literal , humanistic take on the the gods and goddesses of yore. She wanted to know then why would I have that symbol on my forehead if I was not Wiccan? Short answer is that I have taken responsibility for my own spiritual welfare.The longer answer is that it represents me walking the “straight and narrow”, the “middle way”. I seek balance and appropriate response to what Life brings my way.

This got me to thinking about my choice to walk the line and not jump to extremes. It would be easy enough to do. I was reared in a tradition that functioned in duality: GOOD/EVIL, Heaven /Hell, Light/ Dark. I have also seen enough of my fellow apostates run to an apparent opposite extreme and in doing so turn into the very thing they hate. That is probably why I had to explore a philosophy disconnected from (I thought) my upbringing. One I could appreciate without all the emotional baggage religion used to hold for me.

Who knows why I fixated on ancient Egypt.  It could be that it was familiar because I had studied it in Sunday school class . Or that the first time I opened my history book in elementary school to study King Tut, I felt weak in the knees. I continued to explore this ancient philosophy and its marriage to ancient Greek philosophy. I felt like I had found a home. Yes, there is duality in this philosophy but there are subtle differences that allowed me to see the world and my place in it a little more clearly.

One is linear the other is cyclical. There is Light and Dark and they do “Battle” one another. But there is the sense that this is an eternal and never ending dance.The happy ending is not the destruction of one or the other. The happy ending is in the balance they create between themselves. When you look at life as a circle it allows you to give yourself and others a break. We are human after all. Mistakes are part of learning and we move on. In the linear time line this is the one and only chance you are ever going to get so you better not screw it up or everything will be hell for all eternity.

The push and pull between the Light and the Dark in a cyclical philosophy creates something between them. A tangible tension, like a bungee cord stretched between two objects. It contracts and releases. The two become three. In this new space it is easy to see the middle ground. It is often times a difficult place to stand but a much easier place to dance.