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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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For Today Only

The heart and soul of reiki is a set of principles, precepts, or reminders for daily living.  Whether offering or receiving a reiki treatment, meditating, grocery shopping, talking with friends, walking the dog, making lunch, or cleaning out the garage, we’re invited to perform these activities through the lens of these five precepts.

There is a line that prefaces the five principles.  That line is “For today only” or “Just for today”.  Usui-sensei was wise to begin the precepts with this phrase.  It reminds us that whatever our practice is, we need only commit to it for this moment, on this day.  Whether you do yoga, pull a tarot card for the day, journal, work out, pray, or whatever, it can be overwhelming to think that you need to do this thing for the rest of your life!  “For today only” keeps us in the present moment, removes the “eek” factor from how to live out what we believe.  It spaciously allows us to carry out our practice right here, right now.  Not last week, not five years from today, simply now.

Having said that, how incredible to think that a lot of “todays only” add up to a long, deep practice.  But I mustn’t get ahead of myself.  For today only, James.

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