Monday, December 5, 2011

Tis the Season

Here we are in December 2011, time to look back on a year of challenge and change and to be close with the people and things that count. I always find December to be a month of extremes and an especially  important time to just be in the moment, whether that's a quiet walk in the snow or the need to be patient when standing in line in a crowded mall.

For myself, the holidays have become much simpler in the last few years. Most of the kids in my family have grown, some of my family lives out of town. My mother (she is 84) and I will probably have a quiet afternoon together and dinner. There's also some holiday gatherings and areas of community where I sometimes volunteer and it's always wonderful to see people who come back to Winnipeg for a visit.

For many people, the holidays are also a traditional time for readings, whether it's the Solstice, New Years or just the fact that we have a little free time. Sometimes there's a last minute rush to get in (so it's good to book ahead to ensure a time that is convenient for yourself and friends).

Amid all the hustle and bustle, many of my friends and clients work with and contribute to charities; one that I heard of recently is WISH - Women In Secondary Housing, which helps women and families transitioning away from abusive situations. I have done readings for charity fundraisers from time to time, I have had a lot of fun working with Gio's Cares and they have helped many people locally through individual gift packages as well as donations to many areas of service. I also have a personal grattitude to the Christmas Cheer Board.

Some other local suggestions are:
Children's Hospital
http://manitoba.mcc.org/
If anyone would like to post additional suggestions for local charities, feel free to use the "post a comment" feature (below this article)

However you observe this special time of year, whether in gratitude for abundance or if you are struggling, I wish you all the very best for 2012. Stay close, stay safe and as our little planet makes another trip round the sun, remember we are all in this together!
Much Love,
Trev.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Temperance, (or finding your pause button)

Temperance is one of my favorite cards. I find that there are certain symbols in Tarot that have come to have a deep resonance throughout my life. Some that I relate to easily, others that I have had to really work to understand and some where I have thought I'd seen it all and then they come back and surprise me.

I often find that when this card is predominant in a reading that it indicates a sense of timing. The word Temperance comes partly from the Latin "tempus" and also "tempor", these are respectively timing and transformation. The balancing of energies and the moderation to work things through.

A few things I have come to recognize as evocative on the card itself; the angel has one foot immersed in the water, the other seems to be hovering over the earth. The irises on the river bank, the careful flow of water between the cups, the crown of enlightenment at the end of the long road. As is the case with most cards, multiple signals that combine to give us a message.

All of the major arcana cards are archetypes, universal symbols that hold within them a kind of guidance through our circumstances. If we were to view the minor arcana as karma, the majors are a sort of dharma that helps us free ourselves. Now that first word "karma" has been getting a lot of play lately. People look at a difficult person or situation and wish it to have some sort of karmic retribution. I'm not an authority on karma but the Buddhist traditions it evolves from tells us that we don't have to be victims of circumstance or fate. Karmic retribution is about as relevant to mindfulness as Santa Claus is to Christianity. Dharma is the teachings and beliefs that help us to work through karma. We can stop the retributive patterns at any time.

It is significant that the Temperance card comes up in the sequence of the major arcana after the death card, right before we face The Devil. Like a good guardian angel that walks with us through the scary stuff, Temperance is like the angel Virgil in Dante's Divine Comedy, helping us to see that all of our experiences, good and bad are part of what is shaping us. I like to think that we are all, and perhaps always will be, works in progress. The Maker's hand is still upon the clay. We can't just evolve the nice stuff and ignore what's in the shadows, Temperance is the compassion to work with all of that. It is "The Great Transformer".

I don't think it is time alone that does this. Whoever said "time heals all wounds" had never heard of gangrene. It is time though that can wear down our hard shells of resistance. We aren't the people we thought we were a decade ago and hopefully we wont be in time to come. There is a reason Temperance comes after the egoic passing of the Death card. I am reminded of the common experience of many people who claim to have after death experiences. There is often a kind of life review where we see our lives play out from a detached perspective, we see the good and bad and these things arouse feelings but at the same time many of these people report a sense of being loved, held and protected as these things play out. I like to think of that as a higher nature or angelic awareness such as what Temperance shows. The angel of time is also an awareness outside of time, the all knowing that we are always a part of.

On a much simpler level Temperance is sometimes looking at a situation that could have us all riled up in the moment and reminding ourselves of impermanence. It asks the question - how important will this be tomorrow, a year from now or ten?

Temperance can be a need to slow down, to look at the timing of a situation. To put aside our egoic ideas of good guys and bad guys, to be compassionate with ourselves as well as others. When a troublesome situation comes my way I have to see the karma being as much my own lesson in dealing with it and not just my desire to have it come out my way. By the way, ever notice how no one much considers it was their karma that brought them the headache in the first place? No one deserves difficulties or pain, they happen though just like the weather. When they do Temperance is the awareness that we don't have to go flying off into reactions or a wish for retribution. We can learn from the situation, go into it's depths but also rise above it. We can be moderate. We can ask if there is a greater or a higher good than just our own immediate needs. This is challenging work, all of the majors involve some. In this case there is an old saying; "temper justice with mercy".

As we move into any kind of inner work, we may have some bogey men to face, but Temperance is the higher awareness that lets us know we are on a good path, that we are not alone, and whatever we need to face is ultimately freeing us. Sometimes in a reading temperance is that third choice, somewhere between yes and no that says wait a minute or not right now. Being Temperate or moderate is a better place to work from than just being temperamental. There's more room and more of a sense of being a work in progress. We aren't as insistent on things having to be an immediate yes or no and that usually shows us possibilities we had never before imagined.

Quote of the week:

"The happiest people I know are people who don’t even think about being happy. They just think about being good neighbors, good people. And then happiness sort of sneaks in the back window while they are busy doing good."
- Harold S. Kushner, author of "When Bad things Happen to Good People".

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Attitude Of Gratitude

This picture came my way on another social media forum and I just have to share it. I don't know it's original source but it captures such a spontaneous sense of joy. The camel and the child both seem to be sharing a great laugh.Sometimes the greatest things come right out of left field, the greatest realizations come when we are open.

I have gone back and looked at this picture a number of times in the last day or so. It reminds me that real joy isn't something we have to send in our box tops for, it doesn't come from a lot of figuring out or from possessions or status.

In Tarot, the Ten Of Cups embodies this, but it's sometimes misunderstood.
The rainbow, a beautiful force of nature, is a tricky symbol. Just going through a storm doesn't necessarily guarantee you a rainbow. They don't come on order or from a sense of entitlement. They just are. This card is about our capacity for joy and the ability to share it.


I've also experienced some storms that have been beautiful. I think the people on this card could be equally happy with a storm, or a sunset. Here in Winnipeg where you can get an old fashioned blizzard where an entire city gets shut down for a few days, you can curse about the weather or come to see the beauty in it.

I think it comes down to having an attitude of gratitude. When this card comes up in a reading it can portend a very happy outcome and a sense of fulfillment. Not JUST things working out the way we want, but that sense of openness and joy that allows us to enjoy what is usually there waiting for us.

The delightful little kid and the camel seem truly free to enjoy to enjoy themselves. Funny how so often there are those (like some kids) that have so little but that are able to see this more freely.
The more we can have gratitude for what is around us, the more we can be open to joy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Weilding Swords (continued) court cards, conflict and communication and thank you Rick Mercer!

This is a continuation of the  previous article on some of the things that swords can represent - with some specific referance to the court cards - in a reading, along with some thoughts on communication and conflict that  come to mind when I think  of what this suit represents.


There are some relationships and people that have an undercurrent of hostility. When the court cards of swords are reversed (or sometimes not necessarily physically reversed, but ill aspected) this is sometimes the case. The page of swords in this mode is like a child that feels a need to act up, disruptive and unaware of boundaries. The knight in this vein is "cruising for conflict". The King of swords (again in his negative aspect) is a sometimes abusive tyrant and the Queen can be quite cutting.

The responsibilty to swords energy manifests strongly in communication. I have been more aware lately of this in social media which can be very much a swords based arena. Cyber bullying, political vehemence, sniping are rife on platforms like facebook. People like to expound on issues. It's like a personal soap box in a park with a megaphone. This can be a valuable tool, or a weapon depending on how it is used.

We have been seeing a lot lately about cyber bullying, it's not enough to just chant the old schoolyard slogan "sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never harm me". Sorry no. Names and slander, attacks on a person can hurt and are also a warning sign of greater behavioral problems. Part of what has motivated me to write this has been inspired by the recent rant by Rick Mercer about bullying and teen suicide.As someone who experienced this growing up, I couldnt agree more with him, I believe we have a responsibility to step up when we see innapropriate or hurtful communication. Here's a link to his passionate speech:
Rick Mercer on cyber bullying and teen suicide

Mercer, with his wit and strong articulation is a great example of healthy warriorship. His "rant" is not about being hurtful, it's about taking action, protecting and setting a healthy boundary. I would say he is a great example of a healthy, well aspected King of Swords.In a healthy, well balanced sense, the king is a discerning and diplomatic figure of authority. Someone who knows how to debate, make a point and be objective while still holding firm to principles. The queen is a judicial advisor, someone who knows the disciplined, sometimes "tough love" side of nurture. The knight is a rebel with a cause, a provocateur who isn't afraid of shaking up our complacency a bit. The page is a childlike protector, maybe, like a good little hall monitor, a voice worth heeding.

Wit and articulation, discernment (over judgement) and the heroic quality of irony are all hallmarks of healthy sword energy. The qualities of good warriorship are evidenced. Much like someone who has long practiced the martial arts there is not a seeking out of conflict, but also not a shying away. Violence of any kind is a last resort, more often the ability, like a bull fighter to let an opposing force run itself out or to throw itself off balance.

I love the fact that the symbol in the Rider Waite deck is a broad sword. A peaceful warrior is conscious of when to use the cutting edge, prefering more often to use the flat of the blade. In other words to invite differences of opinion, to not have to cut down an opposing view but to learn from it. Qualities of respect and to look beyond an immediate issue. A saying of my father's that I reflect on more and more as I get older is "sometimes what's more important than being right, is what gets left".

On a more formal level, the business of articulation, mediation and problem solving is where we see Swords (along with the other elements) in the process of developing policy. Any good community group or organization usually has a constitution, a mandate for how it operates and it is out of constructive conflict that we develop the policies and procedures that guide us through challenges. Rather than having to fight the same battles again and again we are able to work with our experience (this involves pentacles - see the September article on Discerning True Worth). The saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword comes to mind, but in truth the pen is just another form of sword. How we communicate and articulate ourselves runs through all the elements but in swords we have the conscious opportunity to either wage war, uphold a principle or set a boundary that allows for healthy discourse.

On a more personal level, couples learn to fight fair, to understand each others backgrounds in conflict is important, to not hit below the belt and to see where sometimes a conflict on one level may be an opportunity to work safely with other, sometimes more unconscious issues.
It's very challenging in conflict situations to not react but rather to listen and then respond. When someone who has obviously been stewing with something suddenly brings an issue forward, it helps to see they have been preparing for a while. I am an Aries ( ruled by the planet Mars) so I CAN be a hot head. I have had to learn to stand back, to say "I'll have to think about this" and (boy this is still challenging) "while you're at it, is there anything else"? Often for the person bringing the issue forward just the rassurance that they are being heard is diffusing. Sometimes though what comes our way is a tantrum. Thats when you have to stand back, sometimes walk away, give what Eckhart Tolle calls a "quality no". You can't teach pigs to sing, it only makes the pigs angry. Paying attention to the time and place can be important. Saying "could we perhaps address this differently,another place or with other people present) can help. If someone calls me at 11:00 at night that isnt good timing, Also in this age of cyber communication, not hitting send in the heat of the moment, even better saying could we discuss this in another way. If the other person is simply interested in berating and not about to show reason best to walk away. Like I said this stuff is challenging. For myself, I can be a know it all sometimes and having the last word is not always the best thing.Walking away sometimes means to give up the idea of winning, to say "well thats your opinion", or "I understand thats what you feel or think of this". Challenging eh?

Sometimes we have to fight our own battles, but relying on outside resource, whether thats as formal as calling in the law, talking to a counsellor or on a less formal but incredibly valuable level, an objective friend, are all healthy applications of swords energy. Sometimes I need feedback not just on the conflict but how it is getting addressed. There are times when we might be right in principle but very wrong in how we address it. I sometimes have to look at even how I bring the issue to that objective person. If even there I need them to agree with me or take my side, I might not be deep down so sure of my own position. Being present, really listening to others and my own reactions is a discipline, but to not do it is far more draining; like people who yell all the time that others tune out, learning to reflect and communicate without letting anger take over is work, sometimes hard work, but living less consciously takes a greater toll. After a while, like learning to walk it becomes more natural and we dont have to crawl anymore.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weilding Swords

This article is some of the thoughts and lessons that I have come across in readings, and experiences that have to do (somewhat) with what the suit of swords in Tarot can represent.

The suit of swords relates to our mental, analytical consciousness, how we problem solve and on a circumstantial level, our issues of conflict. Our first reaction to that is often negative, but all of the elements are tools that we have the opportunity to use constructively. Working with conflict is challenging but if we are willing to grow, we can see it as an area of rich resource, protection, articulation and ultimately healthy exchange.

There are times in life when we have to take a stand, maybe in protecting ourselves, others, an ideal or principle. If we didnt have differences we would never learn. Sometimes in the great school of life it's like going out for the debating team. We can learn to have differences, debates and even conflicts in a healthy way. A relationship with no degree of conflict isn't much of a relationship. Sometimes even when we may be in agreement we have to mututally deal with conflict situations. although we may be on the same side of an issue, our approaches might be different.

How we deal with conflict is often learned behavior. Some of us grew up in households where there was a lot of direct conflict, maybe yelling or fighting was an everyday occurance. Others may have had a background where conflict was submerged or repressed. Either of those extremes would be unhealthy. Learning to deal with conflict, whether it's standing up to a bully or seeing where our own energy has been intimidating to to others is an important part of inner work.

In my own journey I have had to overcome some old bad defensive habits. Like most people I can have my own rationalizations of things. Believing I'm a nice person, wanting others to like me and avoiding confrontation has sometimes got me into some fine messes. I have come to learn (and am still learning) that sometimes you have to take a stand, set a boundary, state a conviction, be willing to take a reaction and to not shy away from some forms of conflict. Along with all of this is the old axiom "choose your battles".

When swords are predominant in a reading there are often issues of conflict that need to be addressed and dealt with. One of the things that Tarot also illustrates, particularly in the Rider Waite deck, is the inter relation of the elements within each other. There is often an emotional tone to the sword cards, how can there not be? Our feelings are aroused in situations of conflict. But inner work is also about knowing the right tool for the job. The three of swords particularly is a card of tough emotional decisions. Often when I am describing this in a reading I say "tough emotional ( I put my hand on my heart) decisions (I put my hand on my head). So it's rather like the head has to say to the heart "I know you're upset, so you'd better let me drive".

There are some beautiful, peaceful and constructive elements in the suit of swords. The two, the four and the six have no direct conflict going on. I could point out too that there are as many signs of upset or turmoil in the other suits (i.e. ALL of the fives, the seven of wands) also we could see some situations where an absence of swords has created a stagnation. When there are NO swords in a reading it can sometimes be quite telling. If there seems to be a brooding, morose quality (i.e. King of cups reversed, the 4 of cups ill aspected) it may be that there is more of a negative situation in the absence of boundaries than there would be if a good healthy argument were to take place. If we just hold conflict in it can affect our physical health, our emotional well being and our overall security. The four of swords can relate to meditation or sometimes I refer to it as "rest amidst battle".

When we don't work with what the swords suit represents we can sometimes attract conflict energy. This isnt really all that unusual. If a person seems to have a pattern of attracting or being attracted to difficult, intimidating or abusive conditions -whether directly to the person or indirectly to others, one has to wonder what kind of  logic is at work. Often getting professional counselling can be a vital step when these patterns have become particularly life affecting. The use of such resource is POSITIVE sword energy at work. When we make a coscious choice to be safe. To learn to set healthy boundaries our lives go through a profound transformation. With that change comes a responsibility to own our strength, rather than seeking it in unhealthy situations or relationships.

At the same time, a refusal to own up to our own conflict energy, to continue to allow abusive or negative behavior on the part of others is a big failing. Something I see quite often is that we are sometimes not just attracted to a person, but also who we feel we are in relation to the situation. Some people can get used to getting their needs met in a victim role. Dont get me wrong, Im not talking so much about anyone deserving to be a victim but we sometimes have to look at how we can negatively re-inforce that sense of self, not just in the particular relationship but also how we take that into other ties. A saying that I feel is quite often overused in this and only addresses a surface aspect is; "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result". This buzz phrase sometimes annoys me. It's like saying just dont date mean guys...well duh. I think we have to sometimes look at what's behind the attraction. the bigger question is what is the payoff that deep down we keep needing to go back to? What are we re-inforcing and then what can we give or work with that more truly addresses our need for growth? There is often a good instinct or need, like being loved, feeling safe or protected that is behind our choices. Sometimes that good instinct has been simply going to the wrong address.

When we start owning our own strength and instincts we can stop giving our power up to the wrong people and patterns. This doesnt mean we dont need people, it means we can better meet those needs. We can share, give and recieve more freely, with less baggage, less negative attachment.

Breaking through that attachment can be difficult.I sometimes run into people that can really use their victimhood or martyrdom as a weapon.I sometimes have to challenge that, but people so caught up in self rationalization are not very open. If the person is not open to seeing their part in things, or refuses to work with resources that can help, choosing instead to suffer and inflict that suffering on others, then this is sometimes one of the rare occaisons where I have to say I cannot be a resource. It is significant that these are the types that are also more inclined to be invested in the idea of curses or some sort of external"force". Saddly they are a pretty easy mark for unscrupulous people (and systems) that mutually re-inforce those beliefs.

A tough lesson I've had to see is that forgiveness cannot be true if it just means allowing the same situation to happen again. Letting abusive energy back into an area where it demonstrates an inability to be co-operative or reasonable is like lettting a rabid Rottweiller loose in a dog park. I cannot be responsible FOR another person but I do have to be responsible TO them, to myself and the other things affected. The nines in all of the suits are where we see underlying patterns, the things we can allow to go on bringing those same results or break the pattern and free our potential.

Some situations need resolution, and a kind of finality. We can learn from experience and say "no more". The ten of swords is a card of dramatic finality. The issues have been analyzed and analyzed, one could almost say "done to death". In the background though a new day is dawning, a new chapter beginning. In accepting an ending we can move forward.


Again these are only some random thoughts. I have included the cards as illustrations but these comments are not all specific to each and this is by no means the sole interpretations of the cards. More to come!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Interesting Article

Someone shared this with me, it definately has some resonance with things I believe and that I see to be true for a great many people.
theres-something-happening-here.

We have a great deal more resources in the world for change, for mentorship and for problem solving than ever before. People are waking up to a lot of change. Sometimes it takes crisis for things to evolve. This article makes some interesting points, some that I have come to before, both in my practice and also in my persoanl life. Theres a lot worth mulling over. I value people's comments.