Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finding Our Purpose

On being useful and finding our purpose, I've come across some interesting quotes:

"As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don't have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn't matter as much as how you do what you do".
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross







"The purpose of our lives is to be happy".
- Dalai Lama 













Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
 -Helen Keller

Friday, September 23, 2011

Working With Court Cards

*This is a very technical post, for those really into Tarot discussion particularly, if you're into lighter stuff, please disregard*

The court cards in Tarot, are on a symbolic level unto themselves. Where the majors, such as Temperance, Wheel Of Fortune, Death Etc. seem to talk about lessons, experiences and archetypes we can relate to, the minors (Ace through 10) are the circumstances that both trigger as well as are circumstantially affected by our learning. I often also see the Aces as a class unto themselves, but that's another long winded post. So what to make of these characters that show up? On one level they are the people that are part of the learning that is going on, at the same time they can be aspects of ourselves that are evoked in these situations. I also find they are useful as an indication of awareness.

 The very nature of these being called "court" cards suggests a rank. We think of Kings being "higher up" than Queens or Knights and Pages. In Tarot however, I don't find this to be the case. All of the cards are necessary and it is in how they articulate that we see significance.

I often refer to court cards as "modalities". Like gears on a stick-shift they can be an indication of how we are operating. If it sounds confusing that a card can mean both an external element as well as something within ourselves, we are reminded of one of the seven hermetic laws; "as within, so without". This is also what I refer to as "congruence". One of the things that a reading can do is show where patterns and associations occur in our life experience. What is useful in one area can often be pertinent in another.

When we encounter challenging people for instance, we can ask ourselves where these people push buttons in our own character. The people who come up in a reading are often an indication of lessons and experiences in ourselves. It is often important to note that the relevance of these people to our life experience is not the entirety of the person i.e., a king of swords reversed to one person might well not be reversed to another or may be described in an entirely different way or with a different symbol altogether. The law of attraction also plays into this. People who register in our consciousness are drawn into our lives in terms of lessons and experiences we are going through. There is a cause and effect.


Court cards as modalities are also not just about people, but rather a kind of atmosphere where our consciousness is being taken into account. A predominance is not just a bunch of symbols coming up, but also the feeling that the symbol is predominating. Bear in mind the relationship of elements within elements. Kings are the fire of an element. I see fire as the essence of constructiveness and doing. A predominance of Kings would suggest an atmosphere of authority perhaps, a time of strong accountability and having to be responsible in that vein. Queens (the water of an element) would suggest an atmosphere of support, nurture and growth inducing. The conscious sense of guiding growth. Knights, (the air of an element) would be discourse and sharing, the conscious questing for answers. To me they also symbolise a kind of sibling like association, fraternal or sororal, and a kind of team work or team building. Pages are the earth aspect of an element so they would suggest a kind of continuation. A lineage and apprenticeship of experience. Pages can suggest new learning, the relationship of mentors to those of lesser experience.

So Court cards can put us on notice of where it is important to shift gears. When I look at a fully self  actualized person (and in this sense I think of Ellen Degeneres), I see someone who knows when to be in authority, when to nurture, when to be in team work and when to be childlike and teachable. None of these states are superior to one another. Each has it's part to play. This is also why I think ascribing a single court card to a person, although very useful in some senses, is a lot like merely looking at one's sun sign in astrology. I am for instance, an Aries, but I have an Aquarius moon and my rising sign is different. Where we are at in terms of our elements could be described as a person being King of cups in one aspect and Page of pentacles in another.

I find it interesting too, that environment and situations can sometimes be individualized. A business for instance that is just beginning, could be symbolized by a page. A support group by a queen. An old guard form of government by a king. Some books on Tarot suggest pages can represent messages or the bearers of news.
If some of this seems frustrating, it may be from the standpoint of those that have to form hard and fast rules of what the cards have to mean. Reading them is not simply studying meanings but how they interact. What they say to you. I often find the readings where they say more than one thing to be interesting and where that more than one thing points in a certain direction, all the more affirming.

I also don't always hold with the gender rules of court cards or the age rules or the physical descriptions. Not all dark haired men are good with money, not all fair haired women are competitive. One has to look at the patterns and trends and know when an aspect is speaking up and when it is quiet. I believe it is by working with these patterns and associations you start to see inflections and thats when the cards really start to ell you things. Of course it isn't so much the cards as your own intuitive process that gets triggered by this.

*If you managed to get through all this and you aren't gnashing your teeth, you probably deserve a cookie or something good. I value the thoughts and insights of others. These are just some of my own associations.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Admiration As A Tool for Growth

From many resources, I have been reminded lately of the following. It is a composite of experience that others have shared with me over time:

"Trying to cut others down doesnt make you taller and those you are trying to impress will invariably recognise how small and petty you are being. Appreciate others, look up to them, delight in their growth and what they've overcome and you grow greater than you thought possible." 

Taking Our Own Medicine

It's been a while since my last post, summer with various commitments and distractions, personally and in terms of both work and community involvements was a whirlwind for me. It's nice to have a day to reflect on that and to be back in a frame of mind to write and share, sorry I've been away so long.

Often the things I post here arise out of questions that come up frequently, both in my own personal journey and in the issues I see others working with. We are moving through times of great change, not only in our circumstances, but also in how we are having to deal with these things. Priorities change and our self worth comes to be reflected in things differently.

I sometimes have my own struggles and times of doubt, I'd hardly be human if I didn't (and those who know me personally will assure you I'm VERY human indeed). I have the enormous privilege though of having work that I love and in that work the opportunity to learn in the doing and in the growth of others. In the nearly 30 years I have been a reader, I rarely take time off. Even in times of personal loss or setback, my job has helped me find direction. Being self employed too, time off comes when time off comes. There are slow periods and it always seems that these come at points where I need to shift gears, learn in other things or have time for solitude. It works out usually. Sometimes this has worried me but less so in the last few years. I've found a little more trust in my own resourcefulness.

A few years ago during such a period I decided to go back to school in my free time for a little upgrading. This led to a little side job in an adult learning environment. I had the great experience of being in the midst of many people from all over the world that were trying to improve themselves. I still like to do little side things like that from time to time, sometimes on a volunteer basis and occasionally during leaner seasons out of necessity. These are all things I bring back to my job as a reader.



I also have done a fair bit of community work on committees. They say if you want to face your imperfections, see where you need to grow (and grow up) get on a committee. That's very true. Being self employed I need the occasional experience of working with others and even sometimes getting a come-uppance. The last few years I have made some very good friends and done a lot of growing (some of it with the odd ego bruise or two). Through it all my work is a constant. Having these experiences makes me more fluent, able to relate and be intuitive to similar things for others. To empathise and to also then take my own medicine in seeing what's right for someone else. We all have blind spots, some of these things, the more egoic things, can seem to be glaring to a bystander. I try to follow the maxim that the irksome things in others are usually touching some nerve within myself. Being open, understanding and compassionate is a two way street. When I have the opportunity to be compassionate to others going through stuff, I can be more easy going with me. I try to be accountable and when I make a mistake or blunder, to stay in the game. Usually this is where I do the most growing.

My best friends are the ones that are able to take me with a grain of salt. When I get riled up they're able to look at me and say "oh you get this way", and they've taught me to do the same with me. That's the two way street. Part of why Tarot is such a useful tool is that it's archetypes reflect human experiences that we all have in different ways. I call reading an art form because like all creativity it is a sharing. A way of appreciating others unique experience but at the same time saying we are not alone, others have come through this too. I find great comfort in that.

An article that expresses some of this far better than I can and that I have benefitted from greatly (as well as many other things the author has written) can be found at:
Developing An Unconditional Friendship With yourself -by Pema Chodrun, Shamhala Sun Magazine, March 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Intuitive Etiquette, (or the difference between reading and fortune telling)

I am sometimes asked "do you say bad things in a reading"? Sometimes I have to talk about difficult things like loss or hardship so in that sense, yes. Some people are under the assumption that readers have restrictions. Although many of the readers that I know (myself included) do have ethical boundaries, not all do. There are no enforced guidelines for readers as far as I know.

In my practice though there is a standard that I follow, what I receive is always information that can be used constructively. I don't leave people in worse shape than I found them. At the same time I might not always say what a person wants to hear. Sometimes people say "you never said anything about trips". To which I sometimes have to say that didn't seem to be an issue, I then ask "why are you planning one"? and often the answer is no.

I remember when I was beginning my career and working in an establishment where there were other readers it was suggested that we follow a certain format of what people wanted to hear, trips, romance, lucky numbers etc. I asked "but what if that is not the reality of things", and got a blank stare.

So now if asked about something like that, I try to respond to what is blocking the person, maybe they look after others so much there is never time for a trip. Maybe they need to set up a savings account for travel, maybe they need to go on a trip whether or not a stick in the mud in their life wants them to stay home or not.

This comes back to a basic difference between fortune telling and reading. Fortune telling is usually about things that may (or may not) happen in the future, usually with little grounding in the here and now. The "you will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger who will take you to an island etc.". A reading is usually based more in the here and now and talks about the probable outcome of things that we are consciously and unconsciously setting in motion. A reading would approach the issue with something more like; "there seems to be an imbalance, you're working a great deal and have been operating in the same circles, maybe you need to expand your horizons". The reading could point to something such as an opportunity in the year ahead to re-connect with people and sometimes more specifically like;  "in the west, I'm getting associations this side of mountains, not a big city, more like Lethbridge, two homes close together, one a very new household that someone will be proud to show you", and further  "this trip could be an opportunity to re-connect not only with people but also with a part of your life that hasn't been explored in a long time". So the issue isn't JUST the trip but what it indicates constructively that the person can actually work with. Readings and Tarot, as far as I work with them are not just circumstantial weather reports but tie in more to how we are evolving.

Fortune telling in it's healthiest aspect is entertaining and escapist, there are some who approach it that way and that's fine. A reading can also be approached in an entertaining lighter way. Sometimes people are just coming from a place of curiosity, food for thought or diversion. I'm fine with that too.

Different tools also work well with different types of intuitive work. I've experienced profound as well as entertaining things from tea reading (which, when done well, is a beautiful art). Tarot can be utilised in many different ways too. Generally when I have had to do shorter readings, such as in restaurants, fairs or still occasionally for charity drives. I work in that lighter way. I sometimes use humor in how the information is conveyed. Above all a reading should be INTERESTING. It is a personal service where the client is the focal point. the type of work I do is relevant to the person being read.

In that same vein, questions about other people are somewhat limited. I cannot, for instance, pick up on what your ex from 4 years ago, that you haven't heard from, thinks of you. I can, however, help with what you might be needing to resolve. A reading could say; "you seem to have some resolution going on with someone who factored in your life from a chapter of about 4 years ago. There's an opportunity to see differing values and to see what you have outgrown".

Tarot is also subjective, what could be a knight of cups to one person might be an entirely different aspect to another. A reading can warn about difficulties like abuse, issues around addiction or other pitfalls. It cannot diagnose or judge. I am not about to say something is good or bad in itself but I can say this doesn't seem to be a healthy situation.

One of the premises of Tarot is the "law of attraction". This works along with the idea that there is a connection running through our life experiences. Attraction is not the same as retribution. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. We can look though at our issues of self worth where we seem to be attracting negativity. This is also a major difference between fortune telling which places an emphasis on luck or curses and reading which (hopefully) will talk instead about what is in our power to change.

in the sense of discussing difficult things, I also have to be diplomatic in addressing the client's issues. A person having difficulty with work, for instance. Might be carrying a lack of respect for a boss they feel is incompetent or there may be a serious lack of admiration to their colleagues. Sometimes the answer is looking for another opportunity in that work environment, changing fields OR it may be that they have to make a change in their attitude. Working intuitively as well as with the cards often helps a good reader to point out what is in our realm to change and what isn't.

Sadly I sometimes encounter people who don't want to look at their stuff. Over the years I have encountered numerous parents who think an in law has done some form of voodoo that their married adult kids don't want to talk to them rather than look at their own state and demeanor in dealing with others. People like that will go for readings, making the rounds regularly, spend inordinate amounts of money until they hear what they want to hear somewhere.I try in a situation like that to steer the person to things that can ease the relationship. Are they doing things to be happy even if they have this difficult person in their life? Can they enjoy the positive aspects like other people in the environment? Often in this particular situation there are different cultural values that have to be met halfway and given a little credit when others try. Sometimes a reading can also help us identify what is NOT our stuff. Sometimes, like in the previous example, the other person IS in the wrong, so how do we behave in these circumstances? I know of one such person who got involved with others in the same boat, became supportive of them and found their life somewhat happier through the compassion that came from that. After a while, by not dwelling on the difficult person they found their overall relationship with family improved, because they had changed their relationship with themselves.

In the end a reading gives us some alternatives and choices, as well as some feedback, maybe a different outlook on our circumstances as well as insight to how we are evolving. One of the reasons I love my job is when people come back happier, not just because of luck or good weather, but because they have grown.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Watching Our Words

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
 - Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

These are words I have found stirring and inspiring in the last few days. They showed up on some friend's statuses in social media. The only problem was in a seemingly harmless distortion.Nowadays in our new world of social media, it is so easy to take a quote at face value. The old saying "don't believe everything you read" is a good thing to remember. In my family background, my father worked in the printing industry. I remember, as a small boy. seeing typesetters setting type by hand. In just the last five decades we have seen tremendous change. The upside is the ease of sharing information. The downside is in how easily that can be distorted.

One of my father's great pet peeves was seeing printed material that had not been properly proof-read. We rely on computers to do a lot of our checking for us. Don't get me wrong, were it not for these resources you wouldn't be reading this. I have also done a little side work doing some proof reading and helping with essays and such. It's extremely important to check sources and, to give credit where that is due in quoting others. Also to look at context etc. I admit I get lazy sometimes in this regard. Usually in social exchanges like facebook where discussions are happening in the moment. I am blessed with good friends that set me straight when I err.

This last weekend there was so much buzz going on in the news and in the midst of it all, many people put up a status that expressed a sentiment. The words were inspiring but the problem was that someone had taken the above quote from Dr.Martin Luther King, preceded it with their own words and in the original post had put the quotation marks in the right place (which is fine, quite appropriate). In subsequent posts the quotation marks were moved. The problem is that this misuse is an appropriation that detracts from credibility. Here's a link to a further article on this
lessons-in-social-media-the-fake-martin-luther-king-jr-quote

In a time when words and rhetoric can be a rallying cry, a reassurance, and a driving force, I'm glad to have this reminder to question, check, and when in error, promptly acknowledge that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Six Of Pentacles, or knowing the measure of your giving


If you continually go above and beyond the call of duty, often exceeding expectations, the day you stop, the people you have enabled will feel let down because you've spoiled them. Communicating limits and expectations is important. Giving your all doesn't mean depleting or damaging yourself. Don't be a martyr about it, they make horrid role models.

Often we just need a chance to stand back. The bumps we encounter usually serve to show us the (often hidden) motives we have had in giving. Once we've had a chance to see these things we can give our head a shake and carry on, most of us go on giving, but in healthier measure and with better, clearer motivation. I don't know anyone who has truly learned this easily.