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Archive for January, 2011

Daily Card as Spiritual Practice

Continuing the backward journey through my daily spiritual practices, today I’ll write about the Card of the Day, which I lovingly abbreviate as CotD.

The tarot has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old when I purchased my first deck by saving up my paper delivery money and lawn cutting money.  In workshops and classes, I often say that the tarot has been my best friend and therapist for (at the time of writing this blog entry) 31+ years.

CotD used to be the very first practice in my day, but I now wait until after my recitations and journalling so that I can observe the day’s pasteboard from a more centred perspective.  My tendency is to use one deck for a period of time — a couple of weeks or a couple of months — then to switch to another set of cards for a while.  However, there are times I simply use whatever tarot pack is handy.  Whatever version of the tool I employ doesn’t matter as much as the process.

I relax and mix the tarot deck in whatever way feels appropriate in the moment.  In my mind, I run through what has already happened that morning and what I know I have planned for the rest of the day.  I then imagine the spaces in between the known factors and allow curiosity about those to well up.  Then I mentally ask a couple of questions:

  • What do I most need to know or learn today?
  • What wisdom would be appropriate for me to live today?

I pick a card, usually from somewhere in the centre of the stack; I like to think of this as a ceremonial drawing of wisdom or insight from my own centre or core.

I flip over the CotD and proceed to jot down ideas in my journal.  These ideas come from a blend of my intellectual knowledge of the card and my interaction with the images and symbols.  Whether my thoughts about the card are standard or “out there”, I write them down.  Then I review what I’ve written and note any prevalent themes.

Nine of Water

Many times, but not every day, I create an affirmation (positive self-talk statement) from the helpful qualities I’ve noticed in the card’s symbols.  I often turn those helpful qualities into concrete, doable actions as well.  Let’s say that in writing about the Nine of Water from the Gaian Tarot I write the affirmation, “I, James, open myself to moments of grace.”  I would ask myself, “What can I do today that looks or feels like I’m opening myself to grace?”, then brainstorm two to four things I could do, such as:

  • Take a short walk in the nearby wooded ravine.
  • Turn on the ‘phone after doing my CotD to receive any unexpected calls personally.
  • Stretch and breathe deeply like the figure on the card.
  • Be sure to say “thank you” to someone at least once every couple of hours today.

The main thing that I want to convey to you about the CotD practice is that it’s not about guessing what’s going to happen that day, but rather it IS about embodying the best qualities of that day’s card in order to be a helpful presence in our world, for ourselves and for all of life.

Here are some more appropriate questions to ask when practising the Card of the Day:

  • How can I succeed in every way today?
  • Who or what guides me today?
  • What does the best me look like today?
  • What deeper, larger learning would be helpful for me to be aware of today?
  • How can I be a living embodiment of the Sacred today?
  • What is my source of inspiration today?

Remember to interpret your CotD through the lens of your question.

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Pre-Sleep Practice

In my previous post, I talked about my personal spiritual practice.  Here, I’ll begin a series of blog entries on them.  Let’s visit them in reverse order.

A few months ago, I heard an online interview with cultural anthropologist (and fabulous tarot teacher, by the way!) Angeles Arrien.  During the conversation, she spoke of a series of questions to ask oneself at the end of the day in order to become more conscious of one’s life and to integrate the day’s wisdom.  There are nine of them: two groups of four and a single one.  I keep them written on the back page of my journal in case I need a reminder.  I simply ask each question and reflect for a few moments on whatever arises from the day’s experience, giving thanks at the end.

Here are the reflective/integrative questions that I pose:

PART A:

  1. Who or what inspired me today?
  2. Who or what challenged me today?
  3. Who or what surprised me today?
  4. Who or what touched or moved me today?

PART B:

  1. Where was I strengthened today?
  2. Where was I softened today?
  3. Where was I opened today?
  4. Where was I deepened today?

PART C:

  1. For what am I grateful today/tonight?

Try it for a week and notice what happens.  I find that my sleep is more nourishing, my dreams more vivid, and my mind more clear.

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Personal Spiritual/Centring Practices

At the moment, I define spirituality as anything that reminds me of my connection with my personal centre and with the Great Centre.

As someone who companions people in their journeys of remembering their innate creativity, resourcefulness, wisdom, and wholeness, it’s important for me to be as clear and centred as possible, a challenge in these times of sensory overload.

What does my personal centring practice look like?  The morning begins with recitations, preferably on the balcony or at the windows overlooking many, many trees.  These recitations include the Gokai (Five Precepts of Reiki), the motto of the Komyo Reiki Kai, the Seven Whispers (from Christina Baldwin), and my own personal phrase that emerged in a circle one evening.  I also ask that I may be a healing presence to our world and that it may be the same for me.  Then I give thanks for my innate wholeness and recite the Hail Mother (from Jennifer Berezan).

Another morning activity is to write in my journal, including my ideas about my tarot card for the day which I pull at random after asking something like, “What do I most need to know or learn today?  What wisdom is it appropriate for me to live by today?”

Sometimes I also smudge myself with sage smoke with the intention to be clear of all that is not truly me.

All of this might look daunting and long-winded here on the page, but it actually takes only 15 to 20 minutes to carry out.  Not a bad start to the day.

A newer practice for me takes place at night before I go to sleep.  I ask myself a series of nine questions, inspired by Angeles Arrien, in order to review the day that has just passed and integrate its wisdom.  Doing this has made my sleep more thorough and my dreams more vivid.  It’s also helped me to be present with my own life and to see the value in my actions, words, and thoughts.  I’ve become a better teacher to myself.

If I could sum up my practice in one phrase, it might be, “Be present; choose consciously.”  It sounds simple.  It is, and it’s constant work.

I’ll write about each specific practice over the next while.  In the meantime…

What does YOUR personal spiritual/centring practice look like?  What is your day like if you carry out this practice?  What is it like if you put it off for the day?  What one word, phrase, or image best sums up your spiritual/centring practice?

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Conscious Entry into 2011

Last night, we added a ceremonial component to our New Year’s Eve.

Z. placed a candle in the centre of the round table.  I added three tarot cards: Empress (the year we’re leaving), Wheel of Fortune (to represent the turning of the year), and Emperor (the year we’re entering).  C. took out some desert sage and some sweetgrass.  R. had brought some champagne.

A few minutes before midnight, the four of us sat around the circular surface, quieted down, and smudged ourselves with sage smoke to clear away any 2010 influences we no longer needed.  Then, in the silence of our hearts, we offered our dreams, wishes, and goals for the upcoming 12 months to Life.  At midnight, we raised our champagne glasses in celebration.  To conclude, we allowed sweetgrass smoke to waft over us to invite the sweetness and goodness of 2011’s gifts to permeate us.

It was simple and spontaneous, and it was so right.  I maintain that we humans are beings who require ritual for our well-being and who know how to do circle.  It’s in us.  Last night’s entry into the new year was an elegant example of that.

A most delectable 2011 to all of you.  Blessed be.

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