Friday, 22 May 2015

Cleansing ghosts

Shining Tribe 
They emerge, they emerge,
the dark hidden healers, 
power from secrets,
visions from stones. 

Today's draw from Shining Tribe Tarot (Pollack) is a version of 5 of Pentacles. The artwork is based on drawings from the Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. Pollack writes:

'For many people, this card can signify a powerful healing process. Some may look at it literally and believe that actual Spirits have come to aid them in a crisis. Others may see it more as a psychological openness.' 

It is certainly different from the 5 of Pentacles familiar to us from RWS. In fact, I would say it bears little resemblance in interpretation as well. It does have to do with 'money, health problems, or a time when people must struggle to survive'. Of course you don't get that feeling from looking at this image, as you do when viewing the beggars in the snow outside the stained glass window. As with most cards in this deck, you have to read the companion book to figure out what's going on. That's okay! The book is a great read. 

'Meanings: Finding your own values, making discoveries, recognizing your own power. Changing a situation or the way you live because of inner conviction. Internal healing or spiritual realizations.' 

Here's the art Pollack used as inspiration for this card: 

Pollack says she found the pattern on the central figure's chest on a 'quiet road in Rhinebeck New York', and that the images on the rocks below the figures were found on rocks on the same walk. I assume she saw these patterns in the grooves and shadows and natural formations of the rocks, and not as cave art, as she says, 'Images of power do not have to come from recognized sites. When we train ourselves to look, the whole world - including productions of human work - can show us omens and inspiration.' So maybe it was artwork on a sign advertising a daycare center for all we know. :)

I like the interpretation of 'psychological openness' and 'making discoveries and changing a situation.' Those will do nicely today, thank you.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ace of Birds

Shining Tribe 
Last night was a bad night. What should I do today?

'The owl looks out at us with an intense stare, symbolic of a commitment to truth. the eyes are purple, the color of wisdom. the image in the lower right-hand corner -- the dark sunrise -- symbolizes the autumn equinox, the solar point beginning the season when the plants seem to die and the birds fly south. Meanings: truth, wisdom, sadness, honesty. Looking into the mysteries of life and death. Intellectual rigor and courage. The soul in its search for meaning.' - Rachel Pollack, Shining Tribe Tarot

I have to be honest with myself, honest about myself, honest about my problem and situation.

I can't keep living on the hope that if someone else changes things will get better. I need to look at this with eyes wider open than that.

But that's just so, so hard.

Wait...the owl has spotted it. The irrational belief that I'm coming up against that has caused me pain: 'People should always do the right thing, and when they don't they should be punished.'

In reality, people do NOT always do the right thing, and it's not up to me to dole out the 'just punishment'. Which is pretty much what happened. I see that now, with those big purple eyes. Can I remember this, and change this behavior? I hope so.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

What are you hanging on to?

Hezicos Tarot 
Today I've got the 4 of Coins, a card that is traditionally associated with being stingy with money. The card can also be seen as worrying too much about and hanging too tightly to anything, particularly as it pertains to the physical/material aspects of life. I've also often read it as pertaining to our time and how we spend it.

How are you worrying over, being too protective of, or being selfish or stingy with your time?

We talk about 'me time' and 'making time for ourselves', but it's also possible to go the other direction and be so protective of our 'time' that we end up not using it for anything at all. Then again, sometimes 'wasting' time comes from paralysis -- what if we spend a lot of time doing something and then we fail? We'll not only have wasted our time, we will have wasted our effort, possibly other resources (like ingredients if it's a new recipe, or doing our knee in if it's a new dance move or type of workout.)

Are you protecting your resources, your body, your time, so zealously that you end up sitting there doing nothing but holding on to what you've got?

Guess what happens to it eventually anyway. Time runs out. The body deteriorates. The milk and eggs spoil. The lotion loses its scent or goes hard in the bottle. The silver tarnishes. The nice clean pages in the blank book go yellow and fall out. All that stuff you were saving up so you wouldn't waste it -- wasted.

What do you need to stop wasting through trying not to waste it? :)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Trees and rivers

Shining Tribe Tarot

No question, no positions. Just a draw. Quotations from companion book by Rachel Pollack

The Place of Trees - 'The Place of Trees is a state of mind, or even an actual place, where we feel safe and natural, and where knowledge makes us more alive.'

4 of Rivers - 'The card [is] the image of Akiba in paradise. He has cast off his old self and freed his true being so that now he can move peacefully through the glorious wonders of the spiritual world. New beginnings, commitments. Casting off old limitations, admitting past mistakes. The ability to handle difficult situations with balance and peace.'

Knower of Trees - 'Above all this is a card of opening your arms to life. It tells us to embrace the world around us in all its aspects, to hold nothing back. We do not pick and choose what we want to accept in this life, or in a partner, but instead love the winter as well as the summer. Through such acceptance we gain real knowledge of ourselves and others.'

I am reminded again of the three tools of acceptance: Unconditional Self-Acceptance, Unconditional Other-Acceptance, Unconditional Life-Acceptance.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance:
1. I am a fallible human being. I have my good points and I have my bad points.
2. There is no reason why I must not have flaws.
3. Despite my good points and my bad points, I am no more worthy or no less worthy than any other human being.

Unconditional Other-Acceptance:
1. Other people will treat me (or others) unfairly from time to time.
2. There is no reason why they must treat me (or others)  fairly.
3. The people who treat me (or others) unfairly are no more worthy and no less worthy than any other human being.

Unconditional Life-Acceptance:
1. Life doesn't always work out the way I would like it to.
2. There is no reason why life must go the way I want it to.
3. Life is not necessarily pleasant, but it is rarely awful and it is nearly always bearable.

(Source: SMART Recovery training tools from the website

Monday, 18 May 2015

Of mopping and ABCs

Housewives Tarot
What is the single most important thing I can do today to improve my feelings about my life, ie, to increase my self-acceptance?

I can make my mind up: am I going to continue to sweep up the dirt, or am I ready to do some deep cleaning? When I make that choice, I will feel more balanced despite the pressures of daily life.

Actually, I am ready to change some of the irrational beliefs that have kept me trapped in certain patterns of behaviour. I am tired of sweeping up after them. I'm ready to get rid of them.

To be honest, this draw reminds me very much of the ABC analysis used in Albert Ellis's REBT therapy. You need to use analytical skills to identify irrational beliefs underlying an emotion, action, behaviour or physical symptom. Then you challenge that irrational belief and replace it with a more effective belief. (A - the activating event, B - beliefs about it, C - consequences of those thoughts about the event, D - dispute the beliefs, E - effective beliefs to replace the irrational beliefs)

I have used these techniques to combat anxiety caused by my tinnitus and dental phobia. I have used them to cope at work during my icky secondment. I even, though not consciously, used some of the techniques in coping with the first shock of what happened at the end of last year in my family situation. But I have never yet applied them to my codependency and perfectionism issues. I only thought of doing this while researching my new program, which is SMART Recovery. Well, I have toyed with it, but I haven't attacked these problems in a serious, methodical way using these techniques. I've just been sweeping up the dirt, trying to make amends to myself and others after the fact, and using recovery techniques that felt to me rather like sweeping things under the rug--or even sweeping them up in a big fat pile that I could then sit and look at while waiting for the Big Broom in the Sky to descend and sweep them up for me. Don't get me wrong -- a whole ot of those techniques have been extremely helpful, I could just never quite settle in to some of it. Not a good fit. For me. Now I would like to make a start on actually mopping the floor. Enough playing in the dust. (I'm keeping the broom, though.) 

Even after I mop up the floor (dispute and replace irrational beliefs consistently and methodically), life is not going to suddenly become peachy keen. It will still be a balancing act, like it always has been. But my redefined beliefs about it will help keep emotional collapse at bay while I'm balancing plates and being tugged in different directions.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


After my very positive draw yesterday, I had quite a bad day emotionally. Sharing this new program with a loved one was followed by words and tears. Where did it go wrong? What could I have done differently? How should I change the way I approach or handle things next time? 

Morgan Greer 

Looking at this spread, a theme certainly emerges. In two of the cards, I see cooperation. And in one card, a warning against its opposite. 

Funnily enough, I have been reading as part of this new program this morning, reading about three key concepts of the program:

Unconditional Self-Acceptance
Unconditional Other-Acceptance
Unconditional Life-Acceptance

The key word in each is 'acceptance'. Acceptance is not love. Acceptance is not approval. Acceptance is allowing something to exist, just as it is. If I can allow something (or someone -- and that includes myself) permission to exist just as it is, I can work with it. But if I don't, I can't. I end up fighting myself, fighting the universe, fighting the wind. Simple as that. 

In the first card, 2 of Wands, we see the familiar figure holding the globe or royal orb and looking into the distance. We have the rose and lily (passion and purity). We have the two staves. The chap even has a feather in his cap. We usually interpret this card to represent a visionary with vast and expansive ideas, achieving a balance between stillness and activity, etc. But today I notice something in this card that is absent from many other depictions. The man holds the globe in one hand, a staff in the other, and the second staff is held by another person -- a third hand is in the image. The man is NOT staring out into the distance. He would appear to be staring into the eyes of the figure outside the image, the one who is holding the second staff. Or perhaps they are standing side-by-side, observing the horizon together. Together, not separately.

And in the second card, we do not see a family exulting at the view of their little house with a rainbow overarching the scene. No, the card is dominated by a male arm and a female arm entwined to grasp the 10th cup together, and out of this unity the rainbow arises.

And this is where the concept of unconditional acceptance converges. The Emperor, who could be said to embody the opposite of self, other and life acceptance. He does not accept. He demands, he creates laws, he enforces them, he controls. He takes vengeance. He rules.

The Emperor has got to go. I'm as fond of him as I am of the Queen of Swords, but both of them have served their purpose. Time for a new way.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance - 

I accept myself because I'm alive and have the capacity to enjoy my existence. I am not my behavior. I can rate my traits and my behavior, but it is impossible to rate something as complex as my 'self.' My self consists of innumerable traits, not just this one. I strive for achievement only to enhance the enjoyment of my existence, not to prove my worth. Failing at any task cannot make me a failure.
I can choose to accept myself even if am unwilling or unable to change my 'character defects' because there is no law of the universe that says I can't. My approval of myself cannot come from pandering to any external source or bowing to any external authority. My self-acceptance can only come from me, and I am free to choose it at any time.  Nick Rajacic

Unconditional Other-Acceptance -

Similar to USA, UOA is the processes of acknowledging who an individual is without placing a weighted, global judgment upon them. Personally, I believe this concept requires more effort than USA. After all, people must be considerate, right? Unfortunately, no. I do not control the universe and if you haven’t noticed, other New Yorkers are not eager to follow another individual’s personal guidelines. Ok, so maybe “must” is too strong of a word. How about others should be considerate? Wrong again. Where is it written that someone should behave one way or another? Some would say the law; however, people break the law all the time. It would be nice if others were considerate, but it does not mean they must or should be.

Unconditional Life-Acceptance -

Ultimately, you may have some control as to how things pan out in life; however, you will be more at peace once you give up the belief that you must have total control of the universe and insist that things should be a certain way. If you are able to change your thoughts about an event, you can change your world. Although this cannot guarantee pain and suffering vanish, it might just be more bearable.

The Emperor is not very good at practising USA, UOA, and ULA. So he can sod off. Ha! 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A new program

The Golden Tarot - Visconti-Sforza Deck, Packard 2013 
Question: Tell me about the new program I've begun to explore.

This new program looks very positive indeed. The time of my embarking on it coincides with (or this new program ushers in) the start of a period of smooth sailing, a stable state of mind, overcoming of adversity. I've already done a lot of work, come far. This new program carries me further still toward new horizons.

This program fosters improved interpersonal relations, emotional expansiveness. It will help build ability to make the other person feel validated and heard.

And finally, this program will help shed some much needed light on things that have been hidden from consciousness, in the murky depths of the unconscious.

Can any program live up to such promises? Possibly. It is certainly worth a good hard look and a fair go.