I’m now on Patreon.com!

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I now have a Patreon.com page! For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Patreon is a site for writers, artists, musicians, Youtubers, et al. to share their creations with the world. Both public and patron offerings are available. Public content is shared freely, while patron content is published to those who pledge a small amount (either by month or by creation) for access to that content. This patronage helps support the creator/artist, while building a community of shared interest. Patrons also receive regular rewards to show appreciation for their support. I will be publishing writing and teaching on spirituality and spiritual growth on my page. I intend to make this practical, worldly, and actionable. It won’t be mere philosophical musings. I strongly believe that the spiritual must be brought into the real world, or it’s just a speculative exercise.

My page is here. Stop by, have a look, and please consider becoming a patron.

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My Two Great Teachers of 2016

I’ve heard people say that 2016 really sucked. Well, we lost lots of amazing musicians and artists, the weather wasn’t great, there was Syria, the refugee crisis, the abysmal U.S. presidential campaign season, and lots more. OK, so it’s not on people’s list of favorite years. I gotta tell ya, my 2016 was one for the books, too. But last year was perhaps one of the greatest of my life, due to the presence of two remarkable teachers, one spiritual and one physical. Let me tell you about them.

(This is a bit long for a post, but there’s a lot to say. I think it will be worth your time.)

The first teacher showed up in April, on the 12th, to be exact. Coincidentally, this is the final day of the Asterian (Sidereal) astrological year, which I think is significant, given what happened. (You can find out more about Asterian astrology here and here.) I had been on an intensive, at-home meditation retreat. I was going at it six to eight hours a day for several days. The method I was using was Light and Sound, a method I had been initiated into several months before, meditating about an hour each day since that time. Progress had been gratifying, and I was hoping to “pop through” into an Awakened state during this retreat. That is, I was hoping without hoping to become Enlightened. The word Enlightenment has some baggage, and lots of misunderstanding, attached (Buddhist pun intended) to it. That’s something for another post, though.

Suffice it to say, I was in it to the hilt. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t happen. I achieved my Awakening, and I have been forever changed. I’ll tell you about it sometime, but the experience isn’t germane to the current discussion, so I’ll save that for later, too. Now, for the teaching part of it. This experience taught me to still my mind. It no longer intrudes. It has become the tool it is meant to be. I understand suffering at an entirely new level, and my compassion for others has skyrocketed. I have learned that we are truly all One. Also, I have learned to see impermanence, the transience of all things. Nothing lasts, but the All is eternal. (You can’t help talking like this once It happens. All dichotomies have dissolved at the level of spiritual vision. It’s indescribable. It’s incredibly beautiful. Everything is.)

OK, on to my second teacher. I was extremely fortunate to encounter the first before the second, as it made things a whole lot easier. In August, I was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a life-threatening illness. This insidious illness is rare (estimated incidence ranges from one in 100,000 to one in a million – I mean, I’ve always been an outlier, but this is ridiculous!), and it has an unknown cause. What happens? Well, cells in the bone marrow start putting out tons of misfolded proteins. These buggers settle in the organs, like the heart, kidney, liver, and digestive tract, gradually gumming up the works and leading to the failure of the affected organ(s). They can also settle in other tissues, like the tongue, salivary glands, body fat, etc. Untreated, the disease progresses rapidly, and death usually occurs in a couple of years. The other outcome is that I was forced into retirement from my psychotherapy practice, but as you will see, it led me to another purpose.

While not strictly a cancer, amyloidosis is treated very much like its cousin multiple myeloma, another bone marrow disease. I was lucky enough that, the disease having been identified relatively early in its progression, none of my major organs had been strongly impacted. Actually, the big tip-off was my very enlarged tongue. Macroglossia, as it’s called, is a symptom that occurs in fewer than one-third of cases, but its presence has probably saved, or at least greatly extended, my life.

Treatment is a bundle of fun. I was fortunate to qualify for an autologous stem cell transplant (Your own stem cells are collected from your blood, and put back into you at the appropriate time during treatment. Since you are your own donor, rejection of the transplant is not a problem.). Add onto this a regimen of chemotherapy and three-plus weeks of hospitalization. Oh, and there’s a follow-up year of chemo as well. Improvements in the condition don’t show, however, for many months into treatment, and a return to “normalcy” is a couple of years after that, as the body rids itself of the accumulated amyloid deposits. So, it’s kind of a big investment in time, energy, and resources.

I’m a couple of months into follow-up chemo, and just over 100 days post transplant. Things are going as well as can be expected, though I have to avoid crowds and wear a mask whenever I venture outdoors, or anywhere else for that matter. My immune system is being relentlessly knocked down by the chemo, as it eliminates the malfunctioning plasma cells. In the hospital, my immune system was brought to zero, as my transplant took hold and replaced my completely destroyed bone marrow. I’m like a newborn! By the way, the irony isn’t lost on me that Enlightenment is also a rebirth. The aggravating thing is that I will have to be re-inoculated against everything, and my smallpox vaccination scars may as well be tattoos for all the good they do me. But through all this, I have remained remarkably even. I haven’t been seized by fear or anxiety, and go through the weekly chemo-poisonings on an even-keel. People have noticed, really!

Disease as teacher. Quite a concept. I have no fear of death. (Enlightenment saw to that.) I have learned to value each moment for the perfect expression of creation that it is. I am at peace with whatever outcome occurs, though I have chosen to pursue continuing to live, as a physical choice. You see, I think I have more to do. I guess it’s part of the reason I’m writing this, in fact. My purpose now is to spread the information, and to offer hope that anyone can reach a pinnacle of spiritual development. I’m here to help.

It’s already helping, too. Even without my trying. The fact that I have this illness, and that I am navigating it as I have, has impacted the people with whom I have come into contact – family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, even Facebook friends. They are examining themselves, their relationships, and their reactions to the physical world and its happenings. The most amazing part is that I haven’t done anything, directly, to influence them. It’s their simple observation, coupled with their desire to take action, that has made the difference. I am only a tool of Grace, the Cosmic, whatever you’d like to call it.

The teaching and learning continue every day. As I teach, I learn; as I learn, I teach. The smooth ebb and flow of the nurtuing energies of the Universe. It’s a beautiful thing.

An Encounter with the Mystical Along the Way

Last May and June, I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in northern Spain with my brother-in-law. We walked along the Camino Frances, to be technical about it. Yeah, that was a while ago, so why am I writing about it now? The Camino is like that. It is like a fine wine that mellows with age. It takes some time to process through you, and lately I’ve been thinking about the experienceleon cathedral more and more. It becomes deeper with each passing day. As a bonus, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the mystical while walking the Camino. Here is the story of one of my encounters.

We started our journey in León, a major city where several of the Camino’s paths converge. The cathedral there is grand, a magnificent structure, built on the site of Roman baths. It is over 1000 years old. But this wasn’t the place where I was to have my experience. Beautiful and awe-inspiring as this cathedral is, there is another, more modest one in the city of León — the Cathedral of San Isidoro.

grailIn this cathedral is a cup, one that is said to be the Holy Grail, the cup Christ used at the Last Supper. Granted, there are about 200 cups in Europe that are claimed to be the Grail. Some even feel that the Grail is not a literal cup at all (DaVinci Code, anyone?). Regardless, when in Rome, er, León . . . the thing to do is to go to San Isidoro and visit the cup.

Now, I won’t go into the provenance of this particular cup. It can be found here if you are interested. The innards of the cup (sans the gold and gems added later) are of simple origin and the right age. Definitely a must see item for me. The cup is in a museum adjoining the cathedral. In the museum are ancient manuscripts, some tombs, other medieval bric-a-brac, and the cup. This relic is in a room of its own, enclosed in a glass display case. “No photos!” we were told by museum personnel. There was even a guard of sorts in the Grail’s room. But, you know, that guard couldn’t stay in that room forever. I’m probably going to hell for this (add it to the list, I suppose), but I got a couple of pics while he was gone. The miracle, though, actually occurred when I first set foot in the room where the cup is housed.

How to explain it? As soon as I was in the presence of the cup, I was hit with a wall of Sacred. So strong was the power of the energy in the room that tears began to stream spontaneously down my cheeks. I was filled with a sense of ecstasy that lifted me out of the mundane and into the numinous. I was hooked, like a planet, orbiting the cup’s case, circling and circling. Other visitors came and went, but I stayed and stayed. I finally tore myself reluctantly away to look at the rest of the museum.

I think about this experience often. However, encountering the mystical can happen at any time, in any place. You don’t have to be in the presence of the Grail, or whatever that cup is, to feel the presence of the Divine. I had felt it before my Grail experience, and I have felt it since; but, wow, what mojo that cup in San Isidoro has!

Be sure to allow the presence of the Divine in your life, especially in the ordinary things. Your spirit will soar, and your existence will be forever enriched. (And, if you’re ever in León, make a beeline for San Isidoro. You won’t regret it.)

Siding With Sidereal

The nature of existence is movement.cloud chamber Look at “atom smashers” for example. Huh? No, really. In these contraptions, scientists send beams of particles at each other at speeds close to that of light. When the beams collide, it’s time to see what comes out of that. Well, in this process, particles are actually smashed into existence, so to speak. And what these particles do, during their sometimes extremely brief manifestation, is whirl and twirl, as in the cloud chamber picture at right. It’s the dance of existence.

As above, so below. As with the small, so with the large (a bad paraphrase and maybe not perfectly accurate at the quantum level, but cut me some slack here). The heavens are in constant movement, like a large clockwork; that is, like when clockwork had gears. The Earth itself is engaged in several kinds of movement – rotation, revolution, and precession to name three. Precession is the one where the Earth’s axis moves like a child’s top, tracing a slow 26,000 year circle in the heavens. One noticeable consequence of this is that the pole stars change over time. Polaris is the north star now, but it won’t be in a few thousand years; nor was it a few thousand years ago. Another thing that happens is that, from the viewpoint of the Earth, the Sun slowly moves “backwards” through the constellations of the zodiac at the rate of one degree approximately every 72 years.

This also means, of course, that the position of the Sun on the first day of Spring (the equinox, March equinox 221) also precesses backwards. Here is where Tropical and Sidereal astrology diverge. In Tropical astrology, which is the typical system used in the West, the first day of Spring is the first day of Aries. Period. Every year. Unchanging. But everything is in motion, remember? In reality, on the first day of Spring, the Sun is now still in the sign of Pisces (the fish). That is, if you were to look at the Sun (which you wouldn’t do without adequate eye protection), and could block its brightness, you would see the stars of the constellation Pisces surrounding it. I’ll save you the trouble, and the wait, by giving you a picture (at left), which I constructed using the apps SkyView and Skitch. Ain’t technology wonderful?

In Sidereal astrology, like Asterian or Jyotish, precession is taken into account. So, someone born on March 21 is not an Aries, but a Pisces (and in a few hundred years, someone born on March 21 will be an Aquarius!). In fact, Aries doesn’t start in these systems until the Sun actually enters that constellation, on April 13 this year. What it boils down to is that most people who have thought themselves to be a Taurus are actually an Aries (e.g., me). Same for the other signs. For instance, most who thought they were born in Virgo were born when the Sun was actually in Leo. Furthermore, an approach like Asterian has a system of 27 signs (each one of length 13 degrees, 20 minutes of arc) that overlays the 12 usual solar signs. This fine tunes the system even more, such that there are three types of Aries, etc. Some of the 27 signs cross the boundary between two solar signs. In those cases, there are two types of some of the 27 signs. It’s not quite so confusing as it sounds at first. stars coverIt actually makes more sense than a Tropical approach, since it reflects the reality of the heavens.

I’ve become a convert. After examining the Sidereal description of my personality, it became obvious which approach “nails” it better. I even wrote about it here, and have co-authored a book, entitled 27 Stars: Discovering Your True Self With Asterian Astrology. Without a doubt, I’m siding with sidereal. Examine this approach, and see if it doesn’t make lots of sense to you, too.

I-Doser’s a Dozer

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I-Doser is an app that purports to mimic various mental states, from those induced by drugs like ayahuasca and peyote to deep meditation and near-death experiences. All via mp3. Seriously. You can grab this for your smart phone or visit their website (which I’m not going to link, because . . . well, you’ll see). The people at I-Dose refer to these recordings as “digital drugs.”

I have been interested in the usesRobert Monroe of sound for consciousness manipulation since the early days of Robert Monroe and the Monroe Institute. Monroe’s books inspired me during my high school and college years. His research into binaural beats and their ability to influence brain waves was so groundbreaking that the Army used the technology to train its psychic spies – or should I say uses, because, in spite of what official sources say, the program continues.

In any event, the Monroe Institute has a variety of on-site training programs for the general public, as well as an extensive line of recordings one can buy to assist with meditation, relaxation, productivity, etc. They are a fine outfit, and I heartily recommend them. However, as with any technology that shows promise, a number of slap-dash imitators have jumped on the bandwagon. It is my opinion that I-Dose is one of those imitators.

Go to YouTube and you will be able to find middle-schoolers freaking themselves out listening to “Gates of Hades,” “Cocaine,” “Hand of God,” etc. So, curious me, I decided to get the app and give a couple ofgodhand things a try. Hmmm, Hand of God looked good. After all, I’m a spiritual kind of guy, so off I went to meet the Creator, headphones in hand. All I can say is that this recording was a pathetic attempt to induce a state of awe and holiness. I almost laughed several times during the experience – not out of bliss, but because it was actually comical. It was exactly what a middle-schooler would produce if trying to get a feel for what it was like to meet God. Just poorly done. The dose called Absinthe was just as lame, not taking me anywhere. I was more bored than anything else, wondering when the damn thing would be over. In fact, I found no use in any of the several offerings I tried. I believe that almost all of the reactions displayed in the YouTube videos are expectancy or placebo based performances. Thank goodness I didn’t shoot lots of cash on this experiment

There’s a way around all this, gentle reader. Some true personal exploration via a meditation practice will get you all the consciousness expansion you need. However, I won’t start preaching here about actual drug use. I have no problem with those adults who wish to use drugs, while doing no harm to themselves or others. It’s your business. But if you want to find God? Meditate, and take the effects you experience and apply them to your everyday life. Want to escape what you see as your meaningless existence? Meditate and find purpose. It’s more long-lasting than drugs too.

Remember, poor imitators of legitimate technologies aim only to separate the unwary from their money. Beware I-Dose and others like them.

By the way, let me tell you this. I have truly seen/encountered the Creator in meditation, and the impact is life-changing. I would recommend that over wasting time and money on things like I-Doser.

As the old song goes: Ain’t nothing like the real thing, Baby. (Thank you, Marvin and Tammi)

A word of caution. Binaural beats can indeed influence consciousness and are not recommended for anyone with a seizure disorder or severe psychological problems including, but not limited to, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression or anxiety. If you have any of these conditions, check with your healthcare provider before you try binaural beats.

Moses, Another Guy With a Dream

This past week, the world marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. Stirring words from a modern-day Moses. Like the biblical patriarch before him, Dr. King did not live to see his people reach the Promised Land. Nevertheless, his vision shook a nation.

As an archetype, Moses is a symbol for someone with a single-minded focus, someone who wasn’t afraid to buck the tide and 12 - Hanged Manact contrary to what was expected. In this way, he becomes a representation of The Hanged Man (Key 12 of the Major Arcana of the Tarot). This card shows a man hanging upside down, often suspended over water. The card is associated with the element of Water, the planet Neptune, and the Hebrew letter Mem (shown in the lower right of the card). In divination, it commonly indicates a period of delay or things in transition. Patience is the watchword.

In the Western mysteries, This card is used in meditation so that we can know the will of God, and become an instrument of that will. It requires us to act contrary to the rest of the world, with its materialistic emphasis. Let’s see how Moses fits the archetype.Moses red sea

Moses is frequently paired with water in the Bible. He is set adrift on the Nile by his mother, to be discovered in the rushes by the daughter of Pharaoh. He is raised up in Pharaoh’s court, destined to become a prince of Egypt (why, Disney, why?). However, God intervenes as a burning bush (Fire, the antithetical element to Water) and turns the world of Moses upside down (clever, huh?). Actually, the letters that spell out Moses (Moshe in Hebrew) tell the story quite clearly. Moshe is spelled Mem-Shin-Heh. The Tarot cards for these letters are The Hanged Man (12), Judgement (20), and The Emperor(4), respectively. Laid out Hebrew-style, right to left they look like this:

4 - Emperor 20 - Judgement 12 - Hanged Man

When we do this work of telling stories, interpreting interactions among cards, we most often work backwards (left to right). So, the story goes like this: A royal person (Emperor) encounters Fire (Judgement is associated with that element), is turned upside down, and starts acting in accordance with Divine will – at odds with the material world.

Moses’s association with water continues throughout his life. The first plague of Egypt involves Moses turning the Nile blood red. On his way out of town with the Israelites, he parts the Red Sea. When they are withering away in the desert and Moses asks God for assistance, he is instructed to bring forth water from a rock. Finally, Moses does not get to cross the River Jordan to enter the Promised Land. Water forms his final barrier.

(OK, so why didn’t he get to go into the Promised Land? Because he struck the rock twice when bringing forth water, and God told him just to command it. That Old Testament God was a stickler and wanted strict obedience. I’m sure Moses turned out OK in the afterlife, though. He did appear with Jesus during the Transfiguration, if you remember your New Testament.)

Moses is the model of a person who puts his own will aside (except for that rock-striking business) and molds himself to God’s will, or the dictates of the Higher Self.

Please realize that there is no need to espouse any religion in order to gain benefit from this practice with the cards and letters.”God” can be replaced with “Higher Self” and any of the cards is a psychological archetype, a part of our collective unconscious, free for any of us to work with, non-denominationally.

All that’s required is a bit of knowledge, a questing mind, and a desire to benefit from what reveals itself.

Telling Stories With Tarot

This is a sample of part of a series of classes that I will be conducting in the months ahead. The example used is only a small piece of what will be covered in the class. Be on the lookout, eastern and central Iowa, for more information about these classes.

The Tarot is amazing. It is so adaptable. Sure, you can “tell fortunes” with it, but that is its most mundane use. In fact, it is my opinion that the “is my boyfriend cheating on me” type of question, so often asked of casual Tarot readers, is an insult to the deep, eternal wisdom that is Tarot.

Tarot is a tool for self development. This is especially true when talking about the Major Arcana, the 22 cards that have wonderful names like The Fool, The High Priestess, The Tower, etc. These cards are no less than a road map of the unconscious. They are archetypal symbols that speak to our deepest selves. What’s more, each card contains a lesson, a story if you will, to give us a sense of how to attain the state intimated by the card. This is done through the Hebrew letter that has been paired with each card. This is very handy, as there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Divine providence, perhaps?

Hebrew is one of several languages that have been considered the language of creation. I’m not here to argue the pros and cons of any of that. I use Hebrew because that is language that the Western mystery tradition has used. And it works for our purposes, especially since each letter has multiple associations and a meaning all its own.

So, let’s tell a short story. storybookI’ve decided to use one of the scarier cards of the Major Arcana as an example: The Devil (number 15 of the 22 – I’ve already talked a little about this card here). Really, this card isn’t scary at all. It is a simple reminder of the deception put over on us by our senses. That is to say, the world, as we perceive it, is an illusion. The reality which lies behind this illusion is God’s energy, the very stuff of creation itself. This actually meshes quite nicely with some of the tenets of modern quantum theory. Oh, those ancients. They knew a thing or two.

At any rate, the letter for this card is ayin, which not-so-coincidentally means “eye,” the sense organ most of us rely on as our primary way of gaining information about the world. To get more of the message behind this pairing of card and letter, we need to spell out the name of the letter. For example, in English when we spell the name of the fourth letter of the alphabet, it’s done thusly: dee. Well, ayin is spelled with three letters also: ayin-yod-nun. Don’t worry about the details now, just take my word for it. I’ll guide you along.

Since each letter has a Tarot card paired with it, we can look at those cards to help us out. The three letters and their cards are: Ayin (Devil); Yod (Hermit); and Nun (Death). Laying them out right to left, the way Hebrew is written, we get:

13 - Death 9 - Hermit 15 - Devil

You can see the letter for each card in its lower right corner. Several stories are possible for each arrangement of cards, by the way. That’s part of the beauty of this process. So let’s look at these three briefly. We’ve already talked a little about the Devil. The Hermit is the light of God showing the way. Death isn’t death at all. It signifies a transformation, a radical change. Taking this information and reading right to left, the message is: In order to see the illusion for what it is (Devil), one must concentrate on the light of God (Hermit), which will lead to a transformation of perception (Death). Using just the letters in the same order, we get: Use your inner eye (ayin) to see what God is truly giving you (yod means “hand”) in order to plumb the depths of the unconscious for an answer (nun means “fish” and, by extension, the deep water of the unconscious).

Once you have a vocabulary of associations to the cards and letters, lots of stories can be told with the same arrangement of cards. I didn’t want to cross your eyes (your ayins?), so I kept it simple today. This same process can be extended to the names of the spheres on the Tree of Life (see here and here), or to other words and phrases. The layers of meaning are many, and informative.

Keep an eye out for my class series, where we will explore the intricacies of the Tarot for personal growth and spiritual insight. Coming soon!

Horsin’ Around With Astrology

I’ve always felt that I was an Aries. But being born on a cusp day, I noticed from early on that, half the time, popular astrological reckonings placed me in Aries and that, the other half of the time, I was placed in Taurus. As a youngster I found that pretty confusing, but something deep inside me said, “Aries. Yup, definitely Aries.” That is, until about 30 years ago, when I had my first professional astrology reading. “There’s no such thing as a cusp baby,” I was told. “You’re either an Aries or a Taurus, and you, sir, are a Taurus.” By almost half a degree, I learned. So, I tried on my Taurean persona and got it to fit. Stubborn and loyal? You bet. Also, I had Sagittarius rising, which is why, as I explained to my wife, I always need to sit on the aisle.

I had a Jyotish reading (Indian astrology) some years later, but it was by a very muddled practitioner and the reading didn’t make much sense. All I gleaned from it was that it was different, but it was not clear how it was different. Thankfully, that situation has been resolved by an astrologer/researcher named Jade Sol Luna, who traced the Indian approach back to its roots – in Greek thinking, no less. You see, when Alexander the Great did his thing of trying to conquer the known world, he stalled out in India. Fortunately, however, Alexander’s astrologers had come with him and they left their stamp on the Indian brand of astrology.

The Greek influence was subsumed under the Jyotish stars, until recently. Now, Asterian astrology dissects the entwined approaches to make a system that is accessible to Western minds. Turns out that I am an Aries after all. I knew it!

You see, astrology as it is reckoned in the West uses a tropical approach. In other words, it is linked to the seasons. What it comes down to is that the first day of Spring, March 21st, is the first day of Aries. So, according to popular, Western astrology, the Sun enters Aries on March 21st. Always. Well, that was true a couple thousand years ago, but not anymore. Nowadays, the Sun as seen from Earth is still in Pisces on March 21st. This is due to the precession of the equinoxes, a wobble that the Earth has in its rotation. For those unfamiliar with the term “precession,” here’s an explanatory link.

What this means astronomically, and astrologically, is that from Earth, the Sun is slowly moving backwards through the constellations of the zodiac. Failure by the West to correct for this means that the true position of the Sun (and all the planets) as viewed from Earth is more than 23 degrees different from the positions stated by Western astrology. That means that most people who think they are a given sign in Western astrology were actually born when the Sun was in the previous sign as viewed from Earth. Asterian and Jyotish approaches take this wobble into account and cast charts accordingly. This is called a sidereal approach to astrology.

It gets even more subtle. Within the twelve familiar signs are 27 others. That means that there are colorations of each of the main signs, which introduces another layer of specificity. So in my case, not only am I an Aries (the ram), but I am also Dioscuri (these are the horse gods), the animal of that sign being a horse. And guess what? The Dioscuri are loyal but can be stubborn, too. Also, the horse yearns for freedom and open spaces, so the aisle seat thing still applies as well, somewhat to my wife’s chagrin.

I’m still adjusting to this new horse suit, but the fit feels pretty good. This new-but-not-so-new system of astrology bears a serious look-see. My Asterian astrology reading was easy to understand and mind-blowingly accurate. I feel as if I’ve come to a new appreciation of who I am. Very exciting.

See you around the stables, or out on the range.

Why Is the Devil Laughing?

Did you ever notice how, in the movies, the bad guy is always laughing?

(Apologies to the late Andy Rooney for this opening line)

It made me wonder. After all, you see it all the time. Eventually, though, it occurred to me that since bad guys are a representation of Evil, and hence the Great Deceiver himself (a.k.a. the Devil, Satan, Old Nick, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, etc.), I think they take their cue from him. I’m sure you’ve encountered this business of the laughing Devil somewhere. A poor schlub is going to Hell for some reason or another, and the Devil is standing there laughing his tail off at him.

How can a being who is theoretically condemned to eternal damnation be so friggin’ jolly? I mean, ensnaring souls and poking those unfortunates with a pitchfork for all time must get repetitive and boring. One can get giggles out of that kind of thing for only so long, I would imagine.

I believe that there is an answer for this archetype of the Laughing Devil, and that answer lies in the symbology of the Tarot. In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, The Devil is card number 15 (picture at right). It is associated with the astrological sign of Capricorn, and therefore with Saturn, the planet of limitation. Some even see Saturn as oppressive, which it can be under certain circumstances. However, it is primarily linked with material manifestation, for without limitation, nothing could take form.

The Devil reminds us how easy it is to be ensnared by the illusion of the physical, placing us in a prison of our own making. The primary message to us is to look beyond illusion to the essential spirit underlying all things. This is the ultimate cosmic joke – that what we perceive is “how things really are.”

The realization to be grasped is that The Devil is actually God in disguise. We can undo that disguise by turning the pentagram in the picture right-side up, so that the proper order is restored.

The human faculty associated with The Devil card is mirth. It is important for us to see the humor in the everyday and, by seeing beyond, to approach the Divine.

So, now it is easy to see why the devil is laughing. He gets the joke! It seems that the deeper meaning of the symbol has been misunderstood, even perverted, into the laughing devil, or bad guy. In actuality, the archetype of The Devil wants us to join in and enjoy the joke that is being played on us by our senses. This is one of the crucial elements to understand in order to travel the path of enlightenment successfully.

Laugh it up!

Illuminating the Illuminati

I’ve been thinking and watching lately. Thinking about the concept of the Illuminati and watching the world (mostly watching human nature). What follows are musings and conjecture, so take from it what you will.

There are two understandings of the Illuminati. The first is a title referring to those who have attained a certain level of accomplishment pursuing Higher Wisdom, seeking to understand natural law and thereby approach union with the Ineffable — or God, if you prefer. The second refers to a shadowy group of individuals bent on world domination via every means from alien communication to depopulation and Devil worship.

First things first. As a title of mystical attainment, Illuminati is an honorific. By the time one reaches this grade of study, titles become meaningless. They become a way of specifying “time spent” or “work completed” and little else. Those who attain the true level of expertise denoted by the title care little about whether a title is attached to what they have achieved or not. What they are most interested in is the betterment of the human condition and a general awakening of mankind to its higher purpose. Personally, I have no problem with this understanding of the term. Anyone interested in spiritual development for the benefit of humanity is OK by me.

The other use of the word Illuminati is the one that has garnered the most attention. Here it is seen as a secret cabal bent on the enslavement of humanity. Typically, this group is associated with an alien agenda (like the Reptilians or the Greys), elite families or groups (royals, Rothschild, Bilderberger, Masons, etc., etc.), or Satanists. The goal is always the same: world domination. The means may vary (chemtrails, fluoride, EMFs, television, music, etc., etc.).

With all this coming at us poor, ordinary individuals, what chance do we have?

Well, let me give you my take on this latter understanding of the Illuminati. I have come to look askance at most of the conspiracy theories. I think the last straw was when some of the leading conspiracy experts started taking aim at each other. (See my post on this topic here). It dawned on my Inner Cynic that there was lotsa cash to be made in the conspiracy biz, and that this may be a major motivator for many on that particular bandwagon.

And so it is with the world-wide, NWO, planet-controlling crowd. I honestly believe it all boils down to money and self-interest (read power). Certain, dare I say most, people will do whatever is necessary to get even just a little edge on another. At its most mundane, look at the person who passes you on the highway, whipping out from behind you only to cut back in front of you for an exit that was only a couple of hundred feet ahead. That person engaged in dangerous behavior to save only a few seconds! Think of what such people would be willing to do for a stack of cash or a better parking spot in the company lot!

A recent article in New Scientist talked about the interlinking of the world’s most profitable companies, which according to the article “run the world.” Do you think that there is a deep conspiracy afoot? The only one I can see is one in which backs are being mutually scratched, for mutual benefit, and only so long as mutual benefit accrues. Greed, plain and simple.

In other words, the attitude runs along the lines of: I got mine, you get yours. As long as you don’t try to take from me, it’s fine. But if I feel like taking what’s yours . . . well, that’s just part of the game, isn’t it?