Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cheer

December in Winnipeg. The shortness of the days. The crisp mornings and long twilight of the afternoons. It's a season of extremes. The holidays are a time I look forward to. For me this is a time of year where the focus is more about just getting together with people, renewing connections and catching up. Professionally it's my month of greatest extremes. December is usually quiet through the early part of the month and then a scurry of people wanting to get in while they are off work. It's also very nice to see people who visit from out of town. Some people make coming for a reading part of their holiday tradition!

In my own family the kids are grown, there's not a lot of presents to buy (other than for my Mother) and, thankfully, most of us have what we need. A few years ago we started putting the emphasis more on just getting together. I don't much relish the craziness of shopping. I also volunteer a bit around different community areas. I usually help decorate a community centre and other stuff.

For a lot of people this season is challenging. Maybe because there's so much thrown at us about how it OUGHT to be and it's easy to feel we have fallen short if we aren't living some sort of Hallmark card version of the season. Also we often see a lot of old patterns arise as we go "home for the holidays". I see a lot of struggle 'round this time of year, but I also see a lot of progress and hope.

One of the symbols of the season that I have come to have a different appreciation of is the little nativity scene my mother puts out every year. She often threatens to give it away and I always get antsy when she does. It's one of our little struggles but it means something to me. She bought it when she worked at Eaton's back when I was very little. Eaton's was an amazing big old department store in it's day. The toy land at Christmas was (in my memory) a huge otherworldly adventure. It didn't have the same feel as the big box stores of today. Amid all the over the top stuff that our family went through at Christmas time, the little nativity scene or "creche" as my mom calls it, is one of the few things still around.  The papier mache figures that have survived many moves and jostling. I think we lost a barnyard animal or two and St. Joseph has a chip on him. The year our basement flooded we found the box waterlogged. Mom very carefully unwrapped each figure and let them dry, they could have crumbled at the touch.

My mom always did her best to make Christmas special for us ( I have three older brothers). In the years when she was a single parent, working secretarial jobs and, for the last while as an inspector on an assembly line in a computer plant, she  did her best to keep things together. By the time I was about 13, my older brothers had moved out and it was just her and I for a few years. I remember one afternoon about this time in December, I was home alone after school and there was a knock at the door. A guy from the Christmas Cheer board was there with a hamper. I thought he must have the wrong address and told him so. He had our names and suggested I call my mom and check before going away. I called my mom at work and when she heard why there was a long pause and she said "it's not a mistake". I had not known at the time how hard some things were. Someone had submitted our name for that turkey.

What that little Nativity scene represents to me more than anything now, is endurance, survival and hope in times of challenge. I'm looking forward to spending time with my mother this holiday season, like the little creche, we've come through a lot.
I'm including a link, for those who may be interested, for the Christmas Cheer Board's website, it gives information on how you can donate and the good things they do;
Winnipeg's Christmas Cheer Board

In a few weeks the days get longer again. Whatever our individual spiritual beliefs and traditions, it is a time for renewal and appreciation of what we have, what we can share and what we are here to do. To all my friends and clients, best wishes of peace, comfort and joy and to a good new year, cheers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Abundance" From A Friend

I have a really good friend that I have posted about before. Dann is the kind of friend where we might not talk for a while but we pick up where we let off immediately. I have always admired his spirit and pluck - along with a sense of humor we have in common. A side note in the story that follows is that a lot of people think he resembles the actor Will Farrell (I think Will Farrell is lucky to resemble Dann)
 He is going to be opening his own yoga studio in Oakville Ontario soon and has been updating me and some other good friends on his progress. there's always adventures along the way. I asked his permission to share his most recent post as well as a link to his own site (http://www.bikramyogaoakville.com/ ), where I hope he continues to share his perspectives on things:
Here is the post:

Abundance comes in many forms.....

Hi Everyone,

Abundance and prosperity can come in many forms. It is interesting how something that most of us would look at as a inconvenience such as a bird pooping on our arm as a bad thing, in other cultures that same occurrence can be looked upon as a sign of good luck. I am not sure if Drive through yoga will ever catch on, but who knows. Yesterday when a person was parking their car in front of the studio instead of pressing the brake they hit the gas and below are pictures of the resulting damage. No one was hurt, the driver of the car is OK.
When I arrived this morning to check things out I met two police officers. They were so friendly and the friendliness seemed odd. Then one said “Has anyone ever told you…” and I interrupted and said “That I look like Will Ferrell.” I said yes almost every day. I was told yesterday that the damage was minimal and the frame of the door was slightly bent. Lucky that there are two more doors inside of the vestibule that are locked to make the space secure. No one was hurt, not even the driver of the car, the building will be repaired and this will not hinder the opening of the studio.

I am so lucky, that as a result of this incident I got to meet some very nice people and perhaps make a couple of new friends. I have enclosed the pictures with the police officers they said that their families had to see that they met Will Ferrell’s look alike and I said I wanted pictures too then. Insurance for all parties concerned have been contacted and the couple who own Subway down from our studio location said that I need to look at this as though it is a blessing and good omen. So that is exactly what I am doing. Wouldn’t be a good ad for the studio if I pitched a fit anyway.

Have a good week and in one way or another there are blessings in all of our lives and I am sending this note to everyone who is a blessing to me.

Dann

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elemental Book and Curiosity Shop - Now Open!

A good friend's home based business, formerly known as Cloaked Realm  has moved to it's own full business location at 355 Langside (just off Portage across from the newly built U of W's Mcfeeter's hall) in the old Club Morocco building.

From the store's Facebook page: "Elemental Book and Curiosity Shop is a rising star within the Winnipeg community. With humble roots as a home based business formerly known as Cloaked Realm ~ Pagan Emporium our shop will offer a diverse range of spiritual related products for those seeking enlightenment and self awareness".

Dominique has a beautiful selection of crystals, pendulums, jewellry, incence, imported stock and some things from local people as well. Candles, beautiful artwork and different books and implements for various traditions and practices...too much for me to try and describe here.

The space will also be available for classes and various community functions and lectures.

The soon to be up and running web page will be found at;
/http://www.elementalbooks.ca/
the phone number is
(204).779.8900
and to email:
elementalbooks@gmail.com

Further on the Eight Of Swords; the lessons of compassion,detachment and acceptance

In the comments on the previous article about the Eight Of Swords, I mentioned the business of detachment and how that doesn't necessarily mean physical detachment or leaving a situation but rather not being defined by it - being "in it but not of it". This is a tricky business for some.

I've started this post with Van Gogh's Starry Night. I was looking for images that could depict a person's attempt to break through isolation and convey a unique and at the same time relatable feeling. This image speaks to millions of people both in it's beauty and in it's poignancy. Although Van Gogh's life held a lot of suffering, his work ultimately has been a legacy of the vision he needed to share. Some experiences of suffering, like Vincent's, seem inescapable and sadly not all have happy outcomes.

The key thing to (hopefully) overcome in what the Eight Of Swords describes is isolation. Whether it is our own difficulty or that of someone we care about, the tools we can work with are compassion, detachment and acceptance. We can hear, we can try to listen and out of that to understand. At the same time we can never know entirely what another person's experience is and we have to be rooted in some degree of well being if we are to be of any good.

Many of us grow up believing that to be compassionate we must feel what the other person is feeling. How often in a caring situation do we feel compelled to say "oh I feel badly for you". We are often taught that this is compassion, but what good does it do? True we need understanding and the ability to relate and empathize to a degree, but this needs to be balanced with our own healthy well being.

A lesson I have often seen with the Eight Of Swords is that sacrifice for others must be balanced with our own demonstration of responsible self care. The alternative is suffering for others, a kind of martyrdom. When we do this we actually are making others responsible for our state and we are not living our own potential. The other side of the coin is not selfishness but rather a sense of sharing what we can, and what others can receive. Being responsive to, not responsible for others while being whole and responsible and accountable for ourselves. This is a life lesson that I'm not great at. It's a learning we move through many times. I can say it get's easier and along the way there is a lot of beauty, even in the hard stuff.

I will only give brief mention here of those (happily few) that often want to make others feel responsible for the state they are in, or in some way apologetic for not being in their suffering with them. But these people are rarely and only momentarily satisfied. All I can say in regards to them is a big thank you to whoever invented call display. I usually don't avoid the call altogether but that brief pause gives me fair warning where my boundaries can be in place. That's a swords lesson in itself!

Detachment is not being aloof or uncaring, far from it. It is about being responsible for one's self so that you are in good shape to be of service to others and to be a healthy demonstration. A healthy nurse can better look after people. A good teacher doesn't necessarily have all the answers but rather the tools that they are willing to share to find answers. If a good friend has the flu we don't say "here, sneeze on me, we'll both be miserable", but rather we avoid the sneeze, bring them soup and wash our hands and take our vitamins while doing so.

This is a challenging lesson, especially with those nearest and dearest when trauma is going on. Being caring means that of course we are affected, but it's also the recognition that we can't be in the same place as those directly suffering, nor would it be constructive to try. I learned this in some of the deepest grief situations my friends have gone through, both in loss and in facing their own passages. I learned that it is sometimes better to say "I have no idea what this must be like for you", because it was the truth. At the same time it is important to try to relate and understand.

Compassion is about knowing that others move through these situations and we can learn from those experiences. The circumstances are often not that unique (if they were there'd be no such thing as country western music, or Shakespeare or any form of art) but our individual experiences are.

There is comfort in knowing others move through similar situations. That's a big part of creativity. Music is a great example of people relating over heartache, joy and hope and most forms of art are about people expressing their individual experience and perceptions in a way that others can identify with, each in their own unique way. It is one of the things that makes the symbolism of Tarot useful. It is a way of relating these common themes with a degree of intuitive understanding from the reader and in what the person being read can relate to.


Being in the Eight of Swords state also means having compassion with one's self. This is not narcissistic victim-hood or self pity, rather it is being a friend to ourselves, being able to drop the ego's expectations, the false armor of pride that isolates us. Being open to the experience of others is often an important start. It means giving up the familiar identification with pain, though what have we really got to lose?

This also has another word running through it all, acceptance. Acceptance is not a resigned giving up or (as I said in the comments section before) playing "possum" to a tyrannical force. It is also not about trying to run from or deny the circumstances.It's about seeing it as part of the journey, useful in our understanding and compassion to others and yet not the entire definition of ourselves.

All of the Eights are our relationships with circumstances. They are not the totality of ourselves, simply where we are momentarily on our journey. We might get stuck in them for a while (or choose to stay stuck). Swords are about conflict but they are also about our responsibilities in working with boundaries, making decisions, articulating ourselves, dropping the unnecessary baggage and protecting what is important.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eight Of Swords

There's trends I sometimes notice, where certain cards are more prevalent. It sometimes seems that there's lessons we all are moving through and symbols become more evident during these times. Lately I have noticed a stronger than usual emphasis on the Eight of Swords.

The suit of swords itself is where we often are having to work with issues around conflict, stress and the part of consciousness that makes decisions, sometimes a more dualistic (good or bad, right or wrong) decisive focus.

None of the suits are good or bad in themselves but swords do seem to indicate more trouble on the surface than the others, yet they are necessary and when we work with what they represent we grow.

Not many people can say they like conflict, but conflict resolution is a very good thing. Any relationship that doesn't have a degree of conflict (internally or externally) isn't much of a relationship. How we work through these issues and identify problems is an essential part of our life experience.

Eights as a number are often about how we are identifying with our experiences. They are a sort of "you are here" indicator. We have to remember that our circumstances don't define us entirely, we have to be in them but not of them. When we define ourselves by conflict, when our main subject matter is our battles and conflicts there is a self victimization that the eight of swords can illustrate.

Sometimes that victimization is from an external source, an abusive relationship whether it is with a partner or one's environment can be shown by this card. Feeling powerless in our circumstances is also a big part of what this represents.

Looking at the illustration in the Rider deck there are some useful clues and insights. The figure is bound and blindfolded, surrounded by swords and abandoned on a beach, a castle is seen high on a cliff. Small puddles surround the figure, it is also significant that she is wearing red. What this seems to be is an execution by drowning. The tide will come in and this figure will be washed away. It's almost as if the executioners didnt have the guts to do the job themselves but rather have left it up to a force of nature to do the dirty work for them.

In some cultures a woman in red represents a dangerous figure, a "fallen woman". In the Tarot deck however she represents a resourceful woman of experience, the crone aspect of the female trinity (Mother, Maiden and Crone). In a happier aspect she is present in that trinity in the three of cups and also the Queen of Pentacles herself wears red (again symbolic of resourcefulness and the ability to see many sides of a situation).
So our figure in the eight of swords has fallen into a bad situation. The manner and style of execution suggests she is a powerful woman, again so much so that no one wants to directly do her in, nor do they wish to be identified hence the blindfold. In some cases so much as a look from this person would be enough for her to either do damage or to influence her escape.

The water is significant too. In many instances in the Rider deck, the ocean represents the vast unknown of our life experience, to venture out, to risk going beyond our comfort zones. This is different symbolically than just water as an element (cups). I always have felt though that the very thing meant to do our lady in red in, will be the very thing that sets her free. We have to sometimes "surrender to win", let go of the defining circumstances and sink or swim but in doing so we reclaim the freedom we have lost.

In practical application this card comes up a lot for caring people who have lost their way in taking on the worries of others. I sometimes call it the "Achilles's Heel of Empaths". When our feeling for others has taken over our lives, we are in this state. Sometimes to take on our own feelings can be overwhelming at first (like the great ocean tide) but when we surrender to these things rather than run from them, we find our way out.

The term "Empath" has come up more in the last few years to refer to a person who has the ability to pick up on the feelings of others. I didnt hear the term so much until one of the Star Trek Shows ( I think it was Next generation) had a character who identified herself as one. Sometimes this seems to be an involuntary condition, a person who is an involuntary empath has not yet learned to set boundaries and is strongly affected by the vibes in their environment. Also there is the danger of projection, or ascribing to others the very dark emotions we do not want to own up to in ourselves. When we lack these boundaries or the accountability to see that the dark emotions we are "picking up" are sometimes our own, we have fallen into this trap. For some who are addicted to feeding off the emotional turmoil of crisis situations, boundaries can be frightening. To feel seperated from or cut off from others is harsh, but this is where the illustration of the card takes on new meaning. Sometimes we need the boundaries that the swords represent and the blindfold makes us look inward, we can begin to rescue ourselves (we often need help though in opening these things up) rather than using crisis as a way of avoiding.

I also sometimes call this "the flannel nightie card". In relationships this can be an indication of a lack of safety or security, a need to withdraw from intimacy. We cannot truly share ourselves with another if we are feeling hurt or threatened. So like putting on a red flannel nightie that would look good on grandma and getting a good night's sleep, we have to stand back, take back our space and be whole before we can share.

Sometimes this card can indicate physical problems. I don't diagnose health, but the physical aspects of stress come up here. Some people don't know they are on fire til they smell the smoke. This is not a good card around issues of pregnancy or fertility issues. It usually suggests a strong need for self care before any new undertaking can be accomplished.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Winnipeg stories, a unique Winnipeg tarot deck, AND readings for charity

Some local Winnipeg Artists and entertainers have come up with an interesting way to collect stories about Winnipeg, combining Tarot iconography with quirky Winnipeg symbolism, they're donning turbans and will be visiting locations throughout the city exchanging readings for people to tell their stories. The original deck is worth checking out and will be available for sale. More on this to be found here:
http://winnipegtarotco.ca/

One of the things I like about Winnipeg is that we have a rich history of readings being both a fun and at the same time useful resource. Many people have readers in their family history, people that didn't necessarily do this as a profession but still either worked with this gift or appreciate those who do. I think most people view it as something fairly down to earth. There are some great local resources for Tarot and intuitive study that don't charge unreasonable amounts and rank among some of the best in the world. Most Winnipeg readers are pretty ordinary folk who read constructively. Many of us who do work professionally also do some free (pro-bono) work and will also donate our time free of charge for charities etc. I frequently do shorter "psychic fair" style readings at events put on by Gio's Cares, a charity that helps people living  with HIV / AIDS. I usually post to this site when these are upcoming.

Part of doing what I do for as long as I have is having the ability to laugh at myself. I take what I do seriously, but I have to take me with a grain of salt and good friends help with that too, - (thanks Charley, particularly for your insights lately :).

And no, I don't own a turban ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Knights and sixes and position six in the Celtic Cross

Years ago, when I was bumbling through an understanding of Tarot's relationship with the Qabbala (it's spelt a number of different ways before you correct me). I found a curious relationship between the Knights and the Sixes, particularly relevant in the illustrations found in the Rider deck.

All of the sixes show a modified force, a kind of conscious adjustment and responsibility of guardianship, things we would associate with the duties of a knight. Also position six in the Celtic cross, in my interpretation, is our first interaction of inner experience to the outer world. This position is where we often get our marching orders in terms of the evolution of our life path.

So the sixes in the Rider deck give us a clue as to the responsibilities the knights have and their optimal function in each suit. If fives are disruption, sixes are a sense of working things out, not simply putting things back to where they were but with better understanding, helping things to evolve.

The knight of wands has a challenging bucking bronco of energy that we see brought under close rein. The blanket covering the horse's lower body suggests a great underlying force. The figure has laurel wreaths of attainment and is moving in parade through a crowd. No one is being trampled. Ambitious force is being used constructively.

We can almost overlook the knight symbolism in the 6 of cups but he is there, doing sentry duty in the background as the childlike figures work to establish trust. He can be called upon if need be. Our sense of trust is brought into being through compassion and communication.

The six of swords is perhaps the most poignant in it's representation, the knight of swords who was so intense is like the guardian figure watching over the grieving hooded figure and the child who looks ahead to the future. Again undercurrents are suggested by the figure poling the boat (rather than rowing). This is done when we have to cross a current. The pole extends down to the very bottom of the river. By plumbing the depths of our reactions and undercurrents, we can safely work through extreme situations. The swords provide protection and the knight keeps balance through a time of great peril.

The knight of pentacles is epitomized like the charitable figure who measures carefully how much to give.This is not blind charity but a conscious sense of response to those in need. Rather than just keeping the beggars in poverty there is a sense of moving things along.

I love congruence, the idea that a number or symbol has a unifying relevance. Some of the recent posts have been about the struggles of growth in using our gifts and strengths. Perhaps there is an aspect of all of us that is on a quest, finding it's way. I like to use the symbolism of the sixes, especially when there's upheaval (as seen in the fives) and I'm looking for that next right thing to do. I think these images are pretty good marching orders.