Archive for April, 2010

2010 Readers Studio Report: Part Three

Imagine my excitement when the Saturday afternoon presenter, Mary Greer, combined two of my favourite things, tarot and circle!  Mary is the author of many books, most of them on tarot.  She’s also a terrific mentor and friend to many of us.

We began by asking, “What do I most need to look at in my life right now?” and drawing two cards from our face-down deck.  From the Tarot of the Spirit, I chose the 9 of Earth and the 5 of Wind.  After brainstorming on our own about what the issue/question might be, we moved around the room to gather ideas from other people.  The issue of how to make stormy communications more stable carried a lot of energy for me, so I decided to pose this question as the basis of my circle exploration: “How can I stabilise myself during communications that I perceive as tempestuous?”

Then we gathered in small circular groups of five people each.  Throughout the workshop, one could keep the same question for the entire duration or change questions to get different perspectives.  I allowed people’s tarot-based responses to lead me to fresh questions as I went along.  As the afternoon progressed, Mary guided us through various suggestions for all questioners and respondents.  Some of these were:

  • Respond from noticing the first thing on the card that catches your eye.
  • Ask your question in your mind only.
  • Let the card suggest a metaphor, aphorism, or common saying.
  • Respond with, “The lesson of this card is…”
  • and many more

Every activity was done as a round by each circle, taking us trustingly deeper into a blend of intuition and intellect each time.  New questions for me that emerged from this process were:

  • What generous offering would be helpful for me to make in my communications?
  • What does appropriate time and space for listening look like for me?
  • How can I empty myself in order to listen?
  • What does selflessness look like for me?
  • What is the gift that I am?

At the end, we took note of what suggestions and insights seemed most helpful or relevant to us.

A deep bow of gratitude to Mary for taking us through this circular tarot journey and another deep bow of gratitude for my Saturday afternoon circlemates for their compassion, wisdom, and humour.

So, dear reader, what do you most need to look at in YOUR life right now?  What card(s) most look/feel like that?  What question(s) can crack open your situation and cause you to evolve?  With what fun, unusual, or creative process/tool can you approach this question so it will open up possibilities?  Whom do you trust to witness this process, and why?  

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2010 Readers Studio Report: Part Two

On Saturday morning, we attended a presentation by Robert M. Place, an artist, historian, and tarot consultant who has created many decks, including the well-loved Alchemical Tarot.  He also fashions incredible pieces of jewellery.

Our time with Bob gave us two gifts.  The first of these was how to read three cards as one by noticing the flow of energy/events/gestures in the images.  He began to do this to create a sort of “dream” to read and to get the ego out of the way when consulting the tarot.  Any spread position that Bob reads has three cards in it.  For him, it’s all about patterns and energy flow.

There are seven patterns in which groups of three cards can turn up: linear, choice, meeting, central origin, central destination, central problem, and central teacher.  Sometimes two or more of these patterns may be present in any one trio.  This is an excellent way to find the richer story in any layout.

Bob’s principle reason for using the tarot is for healing.  To that end, he devised the Seven Soul Centres Spread, which is based on the seven planets of the ancient cosmology, these planets’ spheres and their correspondences to human body parts and the seven soul centres (almost like chakras), and Pythagoras’ capacity to heal people by restoring their connection to the spheres (think “music of the spheres”).

The Seven Soul Centres Spread contains 21 cards which might be daunting at first glance.  However, if you remember that we’re reading trios of cards rather than individual pasteboards, in essence it’s really only a seven-card layout.  Through this spread, one is able to explore the process of individuation in order to journey from survival and tribal mind to the higher group, the cosmic mind, and one’s destiny.  May we all do so with grace!

So, friends, how do you recognise flow in your life?  How do you know it’s stagnant or blocked?  What can you do about it?  When do you feel most aligned with Life?  What might your destiny be?  What does the path to that destiny look like?  Please tell us; we’re listening.

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2010 Readers Studio Report: Part One

The difference between a Master and an ordinary person lies not in what happens to them in their life, but in how they respond to what happens.

This quote launched us into the Readers Studio’s first key workshop, a Friday afternoon session entitled Straw Into Gold by Dr. Elinor Greenberg, a clinical psychologist who uses the tarot deeply, creatively, and enjoyably.

Elinor’s professional yet vibrantly iconoclastic style was perfect for a session about finding treasure in our difficult feelings and situations.  Her Burden Into Blessing Spread is a seven-card layout that helped me to discover the gold nestled in an emotionally charged situation I experienced a week and a half ago.  Elinor’s process of Gestalt Therapy: “Be the Card” enabled two aspects of my “challenge” card to hold a conversation with one another, thereby leading me to the realisation that in situations such as I experienced I have a choice: release emotional content by spewing unconsciously or release it by sharing it consciously.  Very helpful insight.

Here are some excellent quotes from Elinor’s workshop:

  • To introduce people to deeper tarot processes (e.g. Gestalt, Birth Cards, etc.), one can say, “There’s something that I offer that can be of benefit to you in this situation.  It’s a little different.  Would you be willing to do it?”
  • In session, have an attitude of curiosity and not knowing.
  • Have the client set a twofold intent:  1. How would you like to feel right now?  and  2. How would you like to be in the world right now?
  • One’s intent affects one on many levels — emotional etc.
  • An event gains meaning from its context.  If we change the context, we change the attitude.  We have a choice about how to respond to an event.
  • Psychotherapy is a magical act that employs words and gestures to assist in the process of transformation.
  • A “bad” card is a starting point for transformation.  It can help us to clarify where we don’t want to be so that we can be more lucid about where we would like to be.

What comes up for you, friends, when you read about Dr. Elinor Greenberg’s presentation?  What straw in your life needs to be spun into gold?  What card most looks/feels like this challenge?  What is your twofold intent?  What card might represent that intent?

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Some 2010 Readers Studio Photos

As ever, the Readers Studio was wonderful.  It’s a yearly tarot conference that I enjoy immensely.  For now, some photos.  Reports will follow in separate blog entries.

Here I am looking at something (what was it?!) with Mary Greer (photo by Donnaleigh de LaRose):

In the second photo, Rachel Pollack and I have a discussion over a beverage (photo by Joanna Powell Colbert):

Yours truly (dressed as the Hermit from the Gaian Tarot) with Thalassa (creatrix of the Bay Area Tarot Symposium) and Joanna Powell Colbert (creatrix of the Gaian Tarot) (photo by Joanna Powell Colbert):

Here I am with my foundation reading buddy, Eric Pollero (photo by Maris Pollero):

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RS 2010 Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd, I’ll arrive in New York and settle into one of my favourite experiences of any year, the Readers Studio, a conference for tarot folks. It’ll be grand to be reunited with lovely friends and colleagues. The workshops are always informative. This year’s key presenters will be Dr. Elinor Greenberg, Robert Place, and Mary K. Greer. There’ll be decks, books, and other tarot-related accessories. And I’ll offer personal consultations for attendees on meal breaks and other designated free times. It’s always a joy to offer my work to fellow enthusiasts of these 78 special pasteboards. Heck, its a joy to offer my work to anyone who wants to join me! I’ll offer a report on the experience when I get back. In the meantime, here’s a one-card reading about it:

What’s the most inspiring thing to be aware of at this year’s Readers Studio?

2 of Pentacles, reversed. I’ll be most inspired at this year’s Readers Studio by experiences and people that:

  • affirm a long-term commitment to our craft
  • value a grounded approach(es)
  • say “yes” to life

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Knitting the Circle of Community

Last June, a friend from California visited.  She knits her own bags to hold tarot decks, so we made an excursion to a wool shop on Queen Street.  While Mary wandered around the store to look at different types and colours of yarn, I stood back and observed what was happening in the space.

Several folks — female, male, older, younger — sat in a circle, knitting things for a good cause.  Needles clicked and coloured strands gradually became wearable items as people chatted with their neighbours about who was ill and needed a visit, what donations were required for a community centre, how to do a certain stitch, or what could be done to lessen discrimination against single parents.  Once in a while, someone would get everyone’s attention just to check in with how they were doing with their knitting project or if the group needed refreshments, then the clicking and chatting would resume.

It was a marvellous, down-to-earth, grassroots, homespun circle.  The sense of shared purpose, the helpful conversations, and just the shape made it so.  The informal group check-ins ensured that everyone was looked after.  A banker, some housespouses, an artist, a personal trainer, a secretary, a caterer, and a stock broker were equals.  Knitting and sharing, sharing and knitting.  The greatest thing they knit that day was community.

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“Tarot for Good Health” Class

On the evening of Thursday, April 15, a few of us gathered in my space to explore Tarot for Good Health.  We began by drawing a card at random from the Gaian Tarot to respond to “What is health?”  The card was the Guardian of Air.  Among many things, this suggested that health could be:

  • a mature state of mind
  • appreciation of the breath/breathing
  • a harmonious resonance with all the elements

Our second activity was for each of us to go through our face-up tarot deck and consciously select a card that most looked or felt like us as whole, healthy in every way, then name the healthy qualities we noticed.  My card was The Wheel, the tenth trump from the Gaian deck in which I perceived these qualities:

  • I’m in tune with my own rhythms and needs and these, in turn, are aligned with Nature’s cycles
  • I’m a perfect, living part of a perfect, living universe/cosmos
  • I am the hub of my own health
  • As an incarnation of the Great Flaring Forth, I am centred/rooted in the Life Force
  • The shifts in my mind and body are reliable and natural

Through guided meditation and active imagination, each of us entered our chosen “wholeness card” to experience its landscape and to meet our Inner Healer.  A couple of attendees said that physical discomforts vanished during this process.  Yay!

Our final activity was to pair off into partners and do four-card layouts with one another: Body, Emotion, Mind, and Spirit.  This was simply an assessment of where each person was in the moment in each aspect of hir being.  If something looked/felt problematic, they could pick a helper card to receive guidance about how to make changes.  The dialogues over these card patterns were fruitful.

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2nd Precept: Do Not Worry

In my previous entry, I spoke about “do not anger”.  In a similar vein, this one is about “do not worry”.  Again, this is not about denying or repressing an emotion, but rather IS about not attaching to it. 

When I observe worry in myself and in my clients, it’s often an addiction to a future that hasn’t happened yet and may not ever happen.  It’s a craving to be, have, or do something that is not yet part of one’s experience or a craving to avoid being, having, or doing something that is not yet part of one’s experience. 

To be worried about what could, should, or might be is to be absent from what I call herenowness.  “Herenowness” is my own term for presence.  If I’m worried about something that isn’t even happening right here and now, then the worry is pointless and is wasting my valuable time and energy.  If I’m present, then most of the time there’s nothing in my presence about which I need to worry. 

Yesterday, I was worried that I couldn’t reach a friend of mine.  Then I heard from him.  Done.  At this very moment I’m in a comfortable chair in a quiet space.  I have clothing and a full belly from a good lunch.  Outside of the window, a plump bumblebee slowly flies past a crabapple tree’s first hint of blossom.  All is well in my presence.  No worry.

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1st Precept: Do Not Anger

A couple of entries ago, I began to talk about the five precepts of reiki and how the introductory line, “For today only”, keeps our lives and practices in the present moment.  The first of the precepts themselves is “Do not anger.”

Some people want to change this one to “be happy” or “be calm” because of their experience of using affirmations to programme their unconscious with good thoughts.  The precepts are not affirmations.  They are simply reminders, post-it notes to the self about how to act or not act.

“Do not anger” is not about burying that emotion or pretending that it doesn’t exist.  It IS about not attaching to our anger.  In my experience with self and clients, to hold on to anger is to be addicted to incidents in the past.  It’s to cling to something that’s no longer happening in order to feel justified or to maximise one’s victimhood (“You know what he did to me…13 years ago?“).  And it’s not good for one’s body.  Just ask anyone holding a grudge how hir digestive system is doing these days.

This first precept is about detaching from our anger experiences once they have served their purpose.  Anger is only an indicator that something needs to change.  Used well, it’s a tool to help us shift from what doesn’t serve us or the world around us to something that does.  Express the anger constructively (journalling, physical activity, “I feel” statements rather than blame statements, etc.), then move on.  It’s done.  Journey  into the next moment with a clear mind.

This is a simple idea, but not necessarily easy to carry out.  It’s a daily practice, nay, a moment-by-moment practice.  “For today only, do not anger” invites us to stay conscious about the true source of the anger, deal with it in the present, and move on.

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Soul and Spirit

Joanna Powell Colbert very kindly published three of my tarot layouts in the book that accompanies her scrumptious Gaian Tarot.  One of these is a ten-card spread that can be used for any topic or situation.  Two of the positions (card places 7 and 8) are interesting.  They are “what Soul has to say about the situation” and “what Spirit has to say about the situation”.  What do I mean by these terms, Soul and Spirit?

At this point in my life (my viewpoints tend to shift as I get older), Soul is the Personal Sacred or the Sacred Self.  Perhaps you refer to it is personal qi, the core essence of self, your seed image, the acorn of the oak that you can become, personal life force, your personality, or the best you possible.  For me, Soul is earthy, profound, interior, and lusciously dark.  It’s my Personal Centre or Personal Hub.

My view about Spirit is that it’s the Transpersonal Sacred or the Sacred Other.  You might refer to it as goddess, god, great mystery, universal energy, immense wholeness, Life, or Source.  For me, Spirit is airy, high, exterior, and gleamingly brilliant.  It’s the Great Centre or Universal Hub.  I don’t feel that Spirit is tucked away in some cosmic condominium somewhere out in space, but is present in everything/everyone in existence.

Whatever anyone calls these things, I try to remember that the names are just metaphors.  To get too literal about all of this is disrespectful to the mystery and carries the potential for harmful fundamentalism.  It also disempowers us, tempting us to shirk personal responsibility for our lives and for our part in the care of all of creation.  To remain in the mystery, to steep ourselves in questions of what Soul and Spirit MIGHT be instead of what they “are” keep us fresh, open, and alive.  To keep a poetic sense of Soul and Spirit helps us to see the Sacred in ourselves and in everything, fostering respect for all of life.

Here’s a short reading about Soul and Spirit:

  1. What is Soul6 of Wands, reversed.  Soul is the most familiar part of the inner self, the supported self-image, the deep recycled life-force within, and the constant identity that only we ourselves know.
  2. What is SpiritMoon, upright.  Spirit is the reflection of something even greater than itself, an external source of feedback and guidance, a helpful light in life’s dim places, and an imaginative dream.
  3. OK, now I’m curious.  What is the “something greater” that Spirit reflects2 of Wands, upright.  The valued and affirmed self, the choice to be oneself, and nature’s fiery “big yes”.

All right, my friends.  Let’s have some comments about this.  What is Soul to you?  What is Spirit to you?  What are your own interpretations of the cards I got?  What cards did you get from your own deck in response to the above questions, and what did they tell you?  Let’s share.

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