Soap Box Time.

Just a couple of days ago, on May 1, 2011, it was announced that a U.S. special forces mission had succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden. The latest bogeyman of all bogeymen has been dispatched.

How does one react to such news? After all, this person had been the posterboy of terror for ten years.

It looks like some chose to react by whoopin’ it up, chanting “U-S-A !” in that obnoxious way favored by sports fans, and in general acting like they’d just won the lottery. I take it that these people were pleased by the news.

Celebrating death? Giddy with excitement that one of our species has bitten the dust?

Look, relief I can understand, or a sense of satisfaction that justice has been served in some fashion — but the displays that broke out across the country seem beyond the pale. Granted, he was a bad guy, and bad guys deserve comeuppance. However, I felt sad to see the way people reacted. It’s not a sporting event. I believe that the “in yer face” attitude is beneath what we stand for as a nation. To turn it around, how did we Americans feel when we saw the (largely staged) videos of people dancing in the streets after the World Trade Center buildings came down? Think our own spontaneous two-stepping endears us to others?

So maybe we’re even now? Perhaps ahead? Great! Can the wars end???

But look at us. We’re a nation that loves the Ultimate Fighting Championship, The Real Housewives of (fill in your favorite city/county/state), and foolish, tiresome displays of bravado at every touchdown. In short, we are a nation without class, and it simply shows our distance from true Spirit. Reactions such as those shown in response to bin Laden’s death are not the signs of a spiritual people, or an evolved people.

Where does that leave us as moral guardians or examples, I wonder.

I was frankly embarrassed to see it and to call myself an American at that moment. I am not an apologist for what evil has done. I just don’t want to see evil itself mirrored in our reactions to the elimination of a tiny bit of it.

Agree with me or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It Doesn’t Matter What You Do

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d write about some of the stuff that’s been on my mind.

One matter that has occupied my attention has been the belief that it doesn’t matter what you do. Sounds nihilistic, I know, but I don’t mean it like that.

Here’s the deal. There are lots of things to “do” in this world, and I’m specifically referring to occupations. Some hold high prestige, other not. Take refuse collection, for instance. This is one of the most important jobs in modern society, yet it is held in low esteem. After all, who wants to be a sanitation worker? But without them, we’d be in deep . . . you get the point. Where’d your civilization be then, huh?

Anyway, I don’t want to get too far off point. What is really important is not what one does, but how one is. Each of us has a life purpose, and it is our duty to seek it out and follow it. This is essential for our soul’s sake. Living and being in accord with one’s purpose is what makes each moment holy, not how much cash we have or how much other people envy us or think that we are cool. A person living his or her life’s purpose is approaching enlightenment. Ultimately, that’s what matters. At least that’s my opinion.

Seek it out. Live it. Embody it. The rest, as they say, is just window-dressing.

What A Fine Fallow

Farmers know that it is advisable to let a field lie fallow occasionally to rest the soil. Intensive planting and harvesting will only exhaust the land, and lead to inferior results. This is an example of the role of cycles in nature and, by extension, in ourselves.

It is an important, if often underestimated or forgotten, principle of esoteric study that one cannot make constant progress. It is essential to allow study and practice to incubate in order to blossom at full potency. Those who feel that they are constantly reaching greater heights and states of accomplishment are building their castles on a sandy foundation. It is an illusion. Their structures are certain to collapse upon themselves, leaving them with nothing but shadows of their imagined glory. There is no substance to such practices.

The Tarot card often associated with cycles is the Wheel of Fortune. This is the card of the Third Chakra and the planet Jupiter. The card reminds us to respect cycles and to understand that they are part of the cosmic order. Respecting cycles includes an appreciation for those times when no progress seems to be made in our practice and spiritual development. This is merely a time of resting of the spiritual field – a period of germination of previous practice which is moving inexorably toward a greater level of understanding and functioning on the spiritual plane.

Take a lesson from the Wheel of Fortune and see that all is unfolding as it should. Meditation on this truth will yield fruitful results.

Mystery, Mastery

I don’t know about you, but I get occasional bolts from the blue. For me, it’s almost like hearing something; it pops into my head as if it were being spoken to me. Hallucinations, perhaps?

(I won’t get into it now, but it is my opinion that all symptoms of what we call mental illness are really normal phenomena carried to an extreme in frequency, intensity, and/or duration. For instance, we’ve all had the experience of asking someone if they had just spoken to you when in fact they had said nothing. Seems to me that you just had a hallucination.)

Back on task now – I had one of those bolts that other day. A voice said, “Move from mystery to mastery through the power of YA.” Of course, it was a play on the two words, whose spellings differ by those two letters. However, the implication is potentially profound. Let me explain.

YA is a shortened form of the tetragrammaton, the four-letter Hebrew name of God. It’s the one usually transliterated as Yahweh or Jehovah. The two Hebrew letters used to form YA are yod and heh.

In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, each card is associated with a Hebrew letter. Yod is associated with the Hermit, and heh with the Emperor. These two cards are manifestations of power, with the Hermit being internal and the Emperor, external.

What’s the message? It seems that taking the mystery, an understanding of which is arrived at via the Hermit consciousness, and transforming it into mastery, via the Emperor consciousness, is the path of making the spiritual manifest in the physical world. In other words, if one can take deep spiritual truths and live them day to day, then mastery is truly achieved.

Who says that all hallucinations are bad?

Heart-Centered Living

What does it mean to live from the heart? There are plenty of opinions about it, ranging from giving it all to everyone to taking care of yourself first. Like everything else, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Buddhists have a term, bodhichitta, which is defined as limitless compassion for all sentient beings. This is the ultimate in heart-centered living, but it is most difficult to attain. After all, it means the release of all attachments. These attachments are replaced by pure compassion. I’ll let you know when I get there.

Living from the heart means to have at least a well enough developed sense of empathy to be able to understand and truly feel with another’s experience. This releases judgment and replaces it with identification. But does the release of judgment mean that everything is OK, regardless of the action or its consequences? Obviously not.

On the Tree of Life, the sphere of Compassion (Chesed) lies opposite that of Severity or Judgment (Geburah). – You can review the Tree in my post here. – The goal of consciously incorporating the Tree into one’s being is based on balance, or following the Middle Way, to borrow a term from Buddhism. In other words, from a Tree of Life perspective, balance must be maintained between Compassion and Judgment. Straying too far one way or the other leads to error. To put a further twist on it, sometimes the best way of showing compassion is through a stern punishment. True tough love.

It’s difficult to live from the heart, and it’s an easy out to justify insensitivity on our part as “taking care of ourselves.” After all, love does begin at home. Without self-love, all other forms of love are hollow, being ill-directed attempts to find inner acceptance. Carried too far, though, self-love becomes narcissism. Not carried far enough, it becomes self-loathing. Neither alternative is pretty.

Balance, balance.

Is It Intuition?

Here’s a vexing question for you. We’ve all had intimations, gut feelings, vague senses, etc. Is it intuition? It can be tough to tell.

But what is intuition? It has been called a direct realization of the truth, without resorting to a reasoning process. Good enough; let’s use that. Not perfect, but it will do.

In the health care field, we have the notion of clinical intuition. It is a term that is accepted even by some of the stodgiest amongst practitioners. I have told class after class of budding healers that intuition needs a channel through which to flow, and that channel gets bigger and better worn the more one knows about the relevant field. In other words, intuition needs a translator to be useful, and the better the translator, the more accurate the intuition tends to be.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than someone who calls themselves a healer without a good grounding in what they are doing. Such individuals have an unfortunate proclivity to speak every thought that crosses their minds as if it were Divine Guidance – when often it is only the pontificating of personal ego. Such healers can and often do harm to those they are trying to help.

So, is it intuition, or ego gratification? A most important consideration is whether there is true neutrality about the situation in the intuiter, to coin a term. When there is no ego involvement, the information is more likely to be accurate – but even that is no guarantee.

As you can see, there are no easy answers here. Outside verification of intuitive impressions is helpful, but not always available.

Bottom line: Caution is advised. Not much help, I’m afraid. I’ll do some Qabalistic musings about this soon, as it pertains to the Tree of Life.

Tarot Reading – Stage Five

So, we’ve reached the final stage. By this point in a reading, the major themes have been identified and fleshed out to a large extent. Now, it remains to see what sphere on the Tree of Life is most applicable. This gives the aspect of personality, or the manifestation of the God-self, that is being called upon. Vague, I know. It’s a difficult stage to quantify.

To lay out the cards, they are dealt into ten piles, traditionally in the shape of the Tree  itself. Whichever pile the significator is in, that is the sphere begin brought into play.

As an example, say the significator is found in pile four, which is the sphere of Chesed on the Tree. This is the sphere of Jupiter, and it brings good fortune, but also a call for order and regularity. In our dealings with others, Chesed brings compassion. Depending on the question, this result could indicate a need for proper attitude, a reminder to heed the natural cycles of things, or an uplifting bit of support for a fortunate outcome.

As in previous stages, the cards are laid out, counted, and paired. Timing of the outcome to the question can also be approximated by the card that falls in a particular position in the spread. (This is true for the third stage as well)

So, there you go. This set of posts was especially for those interested in reading the cards, and for those curious about how I go about it. Go here for details of how to request a reading from me.

Maybe I should do a reading on a topic and post results here for inspection. It’s always an interesting thing to do, and there’s always something to learn from a reading.

Tarot Reading – Stage Four

This stage is a monster. It uses 36 cards, as well as the significator. Its purpose is to drill down a bit more deeply into the signs. However, rather than look at the one sign that is most applicable to the question, this stage uses them all.

Let me give you a definition first. In astrology, each sign is split into three decanates or decans (periods of ten or eleven days, comprising 10º of arc). For instance, those born between, March 21 to March 31 are in the first decanate of Aries. In this stage of the reading, called the decanate stage, the 36 cards dealt are for the 36 decanates of the zodiac.

To begin this stage, the deck is reshuffled, as is the case for each stage. Then it is turned face up and the significator is searched for. Once it is found, it is placed on the reading surface and the next 36 cards are dealt, in groups of three, around it. This will make a circle of twelve groups, one for each astrological sign. Interpretation is then made for each group of three, giving some information from each sign. Then the cards are counted as in previous stages. Again, once a given card is touched a second time, that part of the stage is over. Finally, the cards are paired, like before, but in a different way. The card for the first decanate of Aries is paired with the first decanate card of Libra, second Aries with second Libra, etc. In this way, each card is paired with the one diagonally opposite it around the circle.

It’s a long and involved stage and, as I mentioned in the last post, I don’t use it unless the question is particularly complicated. It does yield a good bit of information, but it can seem like overkill for many questions.

The central themes or messages of the reading are obvious by now, and the only procedure that remains is to look to the particular sphere of the Tree of Life that pertains to the question.

Stage number five, the last stage, is coming up.

Tarot Reading – Stage Three

Stage three deals with the astrological sign that is of greatest import to the question. As you may know, we are more than simply our Sun sign or our rising sign. (The rising sign is the sign of the zodiac that was on the horizon when we first drew breath and represents sort of a first impression that we give to the world)

We actually have all twelve signs in us and can call upon their various attributes when needed. This stage of the reading indicates which of the signs we need to call upon to best address the themes and issues raised regarding the question.

In this example, the significator appears in the ninth pile, which is Sagittarius. In other words, the questioner needs to be in touch with the Sagittarian qualities in herself in order to work with the issues raised by the question.

What might those be? Well, that might include a willingness to look at one’s philosophy around the question – possible doing research, maybe even traveling (actually or vicariously) to find out more about appropriate things. There is a sense of adventure in Sagittarius as well, and Sagittarians are natural gamblers. Therefore, the questioner may be asked to take a risk.

Cards are counted and paired as in previous stages. They are interpreted with an eye to how they pertain to the sign that is being dealt with.

From this stage, we move to the most complicated stage of the reading, astrological decanates. It is the stage I use the least, as it is long and, at times, tedious.

I’m only telling you the truth as I see it. Next time, you will be able to see it too.

Tarot Reading – Stage Two

The second stage of the five-stage reading involves the astrological house of relevance to the question.

Houses in astrology relate to areas of our lives, such as material possessions, partnerships, travel, children, home life, etc. In this stage, we determine what area of the questioner’s life is of particular concern. In our example, we are following the Queen of Cups (significator) through the stages.

The entire deck is dealt into twelve piles, each pile representing one of the houses of the zodiac. Dealing begins at the upper left (first house) across (to the sixth house), then on to the second row, left to right (seventh to twelfth house). The first six piles contain seven cards, while piles six through twelve have six cards apiece (for a total of 78, the number of cards in the deck). Each pile is then searched face up until the significator is found. In this example, the Queen appears in the second house, the house of personal possessions, material goods, etc.

The cards are laid out in a circular formation, and counted as they were in the first stage. Once any card is landed upon twice, the cards are paired as they were in the first stage. In this case, each card has a mate, while the Queen stands alone.

This stage gleans more information about the question, and the themes exposed in the first stage are often fleshed out a bit more.

But how is the questioner to deal with the situation? What skills must be called upon to assist? This is where the third stage comes in – astrological signs.