Learning to become A Woman in Love with Herself (#Tarot #HauntedHouseTarot)

I recently started reading Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself by Patricia Lynn Reilly (or maybe re-reading it, I’m not sure) and I decided I wanted to focus on some of the ideas I came across in the first chapter (or maybe it’s the first stanza) of the book and do a Tarot reading for myself  So, using my creepily lovely Haunted House Tarot by the amazing Sasha Graham, I asked:
  1. How can I best love myself?  Death
  2. How can I release the impact sins of others have left upon my psyche?  6 of Wands Rx
  3. How can I walk through my past to heal my present?  3 of Cups Rx

Of course, being the snarky soul I am, my first response to Death was “Right, of course I’d have to die in order to learn to love myself.”   Sassy snark aside, I think what Death is truly trying to let me know is that in order to love myself I have to defeat those self-denigrating habits that prevent it.  I need to slay those inner demons who whisper poison in my soul (“you’re not good enough”, “no one really likes you”, “so & so does that much better than you do”), you know the drill.  I’m sure we all have moments when we’re pits of self-loathing with self-esteem and self-worth in the sub, sub-basement.  With the ways things are going lately it’s easy to allows these feelings to become overwhelming, because, as I mentioned in a previous post, being concerned about this kind of inner growth when the world around us seems to be going to shit feels self-indulgent and frivolous.  Well fuck that!  I have made a new resolution that the only way to make things better on a national or global scale is to make things better on a personal scale – as below, so above.  What needs to die are all those self-defeating behaviors and crippling self-doubts.  If I want to transform the world, first I need to transform myself!

The 6 of Wands is interesting because the image shows a woman on horseback freeing herself from the grasps of a crowd of hooded figures.  The LWB mentions that the woman is “breaking free of the brood”.  I think it’s showing me that the potential for feeling victorious & accomplished; the way to appreciate and embrace my achievements is to free myself from those self doubts and inner demons; these psychic scars left upon my soul by others.  The way to victory is to slay those damn fuckers, defeat those who thought they’d permanently damaged me, and let myself emerge transformed and starting to heal.

In the LWB the listing for the 3 of Cups mentions intoxication and drowning in pleasure.  Reversed, I feel as though I’m drowning my sorrows in distractions.  Instead of celebrating I’m self-medicating.  Granted, I’m not pouring booze down my throat but I do indulge in bouts of retail therapy or gorging on unhealthy food choices.  Once again I think the message of the reversal is that the only thing preventing my from celebrating my joy and happiness, exploring my dreams with friends and loved ones is that I need to free myself from those negative beliefs and inner demons (fucking inner demons are such a pain in my ass!).  The way forward is through and I need to charge through them and keep going even as they try to pull me back (I keep envisioning this struggle as Milo trying to free himself from The Doldrums in The Phantom Tollbooth)

I’m feeling rather inspired lately (which is a nice change) and I’m determined to keep moving forward even if my momentum is more like one step forward, two steps back.  At least it’s some progress.  It’s too easy to fall into despair and hopelessness but then they win – the demons both inner and outer, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let that happen.  I’m a fighter and all I need to do now is focus on the win so I can win!

#TarotDaily – Ace of Pentacles + 4 of Swords (#BohemianGothic)

What belief about yourself no longer serves you? With what can you replace it?

Maybe the belief that no longer serves me is that I still have a lot of unexpressed, untapped potential. The reality is that I’m in my 50s and while I don’t feel old my clock has probably passed the halfway mark. That doesn’t mean I can’t still achieve new goals however it does suggest I need to narrow those goals down to more realistic proportions.

I can replace these myriad goals with more genuine ones; ones that truly fulfill my heart, mind and soul rather than gratifying my ego. I think it’s time for some focused goal setting and practical planning; time to weed through the excess and get to the core of things. Then I can move forward with thoughtfulness and drive.

#TarotDaily – Death + 8 of Cups (#AllHallows)

How might your knowledge empower other people?

Oh my! This feels very powerful and impactful to and for me. Transformation, dramatic changes, shedding old skin – Death can mean any and all of these. Is that how I can help others – aid them in processing major life changes? Would I be any good at that? I remember that after my mother-in-law died I felt blessed and empowered by witnessing her passing and helping prepare her body to move on to the next stage (the crematorium). Tending her as she deteriorated and prepared to meet death made me stronger and less fearful of dying.

The image on the 8 of Cups reinforces the need to release things before you can move on – whether it is emotional ties or material possessions. If we can’t let go of loved ones we prevent ourselves from moving on to the next level of our own journey.

Perhaps exploring ways to share this with others could prove fulfilling. Sounds like an interesting topic for future blog posts. Of course I hope I can avoid meaningless platitudes and jingoistic bullshit. Let’s face it, transformation is hard and it can hurt like hell! Sometimes we don’t realize how much pain we feel until something rips off the scab and reminds us the wound is still there. Then again constantly picking the scab doesn’t help either. We need to find a balance but before that we probably spend a lot of time bouncing back and forth between hope and despair. Healing ain’t easy and I’m not sure if I’d be suited to the task. I guess time will tell.

#TarotDaily – Kali Rx + Chief of Wheels Rx (#SacredBridges)

TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Kali’s dance of death is inevitable. You can’t avoid it or postpone it, only accept it. Stubbornly refusing to accept change can create stagnation and prevent skills from growing. Face Kali and absorb her message so you can begin growing and manifesting your future.
  • Perhaps you enjoy the status quo. You feel on top and in control and don’t want that to change. Unfortunately, that’s an illusion. No matter how hard we cling to now, it always slips from our grasp. Enjoy it while it’s here but prepare yourself for future changes as well. Being King of the World is never permanent.
  • Kali will eventually dance on all our bones, that is the nature of life – things die so new life can grow. We try to outrace her; to create an oasis hidden from her influence, but it’s futile. On the positive side, things we hate right now will eventually fall to Kali’s dance too. As Bowie sang “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange.”

#TarotDaily – Death + King of Wands Rx (Grand Luxe)

Tarot Hunter’s Salt Rounds

  • Are you hiding yourself from changes that are necessary? Doing so might be negatively impacting your creative energy.
  • If you wish to unleash your full creative potential, achieve mastery in your desired field then you may need to release things that no longer serve you.
  • Effective leadership requires more than charisma and glib promises. It’s possible to transform oneself into a strong, positive leader but it requires commitment and dedication.

#TarotDaily – Death Rx + 7 of Swords (Hudes)

TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Clinging to the status quo, refusing to be open to change can mean you’re robbing yourself of the potential for embracing your true self and finding new ideas to explore.
  • Letting someone steal your ideas, allowing yourself to be disempowered can prevent you from transforming your life into who and what you truly wish it to be.
  • Transformation and change can be frightening but clinging too tightly to the past, or to current circumstances can ultimately cause more harm than good.  It can lead to stagnation and a stultifying existence.  There is a beauty in death and transformation.  Embrace it rather than trying to escape it.

#TarotCotD – Death Rx (Pearls if Wisdom)

TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Death is liminal space.  You are poised on a boundary between two realities.  Instead of avoiding, why not use this opportunity to open yourself up and learn from the experience?
  • Day destroys the night, night divides the day – you can try to resist the changes but you can’t stop them. Death or transformation – only you can decide but remember, whichever view you choose, it’s inevitable.
  • Death forces us to strip off our masks and face who we really are.  Are you afraid to face your true self?  Trying to postpone or avoid a necessary part of your journey is pointless and will only lead to frustration and stagnation.

Speaking with the Dead

I had a very strange experience last week. I’m not sure why I should be so surprised by it but I was. I had arranged for a Tarot reading with the wonderfully talented Mitchell Osborn. My reading with Mitchell was very different to they type of Tarot reading I’m used to giving and receiving. His style reminded me of a session with John Edwards. It was more as if he was channeling messages from the spirit world than interpreting cards.

Over the course of our reading, Mitchell described receiving messages pertaining to my hubby from someone he felt might be associated with show business or a comedian. Now my hubby had an uncle who worked as a teamster in the film industry but that didn’t feel right. Mitchell once again said he was getting a strong feeling of a comedian. I mentioned my brother Tom who has been dead since 1986 but was well know in my family as a clown. The 31st anniversary of his death was two days after the reading. As soon as I mentioned him Mitchell almost shouted “Yes!” I explained that Tom had died when he was 15 but gave no more details. I just shared how Tom had been a practical joker and one statement that Mitchell had offered from the spirit world sounded exactly like something Tom would have said.

For the rest of the reading, Mitchell gave me messages from Tom that I didn’t even know I needed to hear. He explained that Tom was showing him his head hitting the ground as a way to explain that he died instantly and felt no pain. What I did not know at this point is that my brother’s skull had been fractured in seven places by the attack on him. Mitchell also shared that Tom was showing his spirit standing next to his body in shock – he didn’t realize he was dead, and that he stared at his attacker wondering what had made him so angry and full of pain. This sounds so much like something Tom would think that it brought tears to my eyes. Any skepticism I felt immediately drained away.

A few things Mitchell mentioned didn’t make any sense at the time. He asked if my brother ever drove a car or liked cars because he kept seeing a red Mustang. Now, I assume my brother Tom like cars as much as any teen boy but living in NYC meant very few people we knew owned cars. My hubby was one of the few and although Tom like riding in them he showed no special attachment to them. Of course, the odds are that the longer he spent with my hubby the more likely that would change. Mitchell also asked if Tom had a girlfriend. I explained that as far as I knew he didn’t, at least not when he was killed. Mitchell said he kept mentioning “the girls that wasn’t included” but I had no idea who that might be. Once our reading concluded I immediately called my mother and shared that portion with her. We both cried at the confirmation that Tom hadn’t suffered. I think we’ve carried that burden for 31 years and never realized how heavy it was.

Now here comes the part where I got messages from Tom. I kept thinking about the “girl who wasn’t included”. It bothered me. So as I laid in bed thinking things over it hit me – Tom meant my sister-in-law Tracey who had died last year. She wasn’t included because she was not yet part of our family when Tom was killed. I became convinced that was who Tom meant. I believe he was trying to let us know he was watching over Tracey in the afterlife. I mentioned this to my family and got non-committal responses. They didn’t want to disagree but didn’t really agree either. So I went to my default divination tool, my Tarot deck, and simply asked Tom for clarification. I asked, “Who was the girl who wasn’t included?” I drew Death. That seemed pretty clear to me but I wanted additional confirmation. So I asked Tom “I want to be sure, we’re talking about Tracey, right?” I drew The Hierophant upright. This is significant because I indicated that an upright card would be a positive response and The Hierophant is my birth card. So Tom was clearly saying “Yes, you are right”. I once again shared this with my family and we all agreed this was Tom’s way of reassuring us. Even my brother Billy (Tracey’s husband) said he felt a little better after receiving that message.

To add even more layers to this, I began thinking about the car connection. Now, as I mentioned, Tom certainly enjoyed spending time around my hubby’s cars but wasn’t a “car guy” per se. Then I remembered something. Tom was scheduled to start high school the September. The high school was called Automotive High School! Then, while driving up from NYC, my hubby passed a spot where he has noticed people place cars that are for sale. This time as he passed by he saw a red Mustang! We took that as another sign Tom was around and wanted us to know it.

This was a very powerful and mind-altering experience for me. I’ve always wanted to believe that we can communicate with loved ones who have passed on but I’ve also always been skeptical. This has definitely eradicated that. It occurs to me that perhaps our loved ones on the other side are often trying to communicate with us but we don’t pay enough attention or understand the signs and messages. Going forward I am definitely planning to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to future signs. I already know my father is good at finding us parking spots when none seem available so simply being more aware would probably help this process.

Because I could not stop for Death

Jodorowsky Death

 

Today for my AM Tarot tweet I drew Death reversed from the Tarot de Marseilles. The image is quite stark and dramatic. The only figure is the scythe-wielding skeleton. Various body parts are scattered at the skeleton’s feet, like something out of an episode of Dexter. There is a relentlessness and implacability to this image. Death no longer human, if it ever was. There is no reasoning, no pleading to be spared. Death does not make deals and no one is spared. As The Doors sang “no one here gets out alive”.

Modern society seems to do everything it can to stave off death or avoid facing its reality. Much of the medical treatment I’ve seen for the elderly seems to focus on maintaining life regardless of quality. They have the ability to stabilize the body but not actually improve the situation. So if a patient is suffering from liver disease or some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the doctors can keep the body going but not actually heal it. I’ve watched both my in-law’s go through this process. My father-in-law’s health would deteriorate to the point that he had to be hospitalized. We would be told he had a 10% chance of improvement. Then 2 days later he had been stabilized enough so he could return home only to have the cycle repeated a few months later.

I’m not trying to promote euthanasia (although the longer I see similar scenarios played out, the more of a proponent I become) and I don’t blame the medical profession for this situation. They are simply doing what society and the law demands they do. As a society we seem to have developed an imperative that death must be postponed as long as possible regardless of consequences. If a family decided to just let an elderly parent die at home by not taking her/him to the hospital, could the family be brought up on legal charges? After watching what my husband’s family went through with his father, I often questioned why we kept returning him to the hospital when his health deteriorated. We knew he would not get better. All the hospital could do was stabilize him enough so that he could return home. It was a relentless cycle that eventually broke my mother-in-law and led to the situation I now face.

I have come to appreciate that there truly are worse fates than death. Lingering on in a state of limbo is one of them. In fact it’s made me question why anyone would want to be immortal – assuming it was possible. Watching everything one knows and loves die or change has to case psychological damage. I become melancholic just thinking about the changes I’ve seen in my life. What would my mental state be after centuries of change?

In the original Star Trek they dealt with such scenarios in two episodes that I recall. In one, Capt. Kirk finds himself on an empty Enterprise with a female he doesn’t know. We eventually learn she is the daughter of the ruler of a planet The Enterprise has recently visited. The planet knew no death or illness and as a result had become so overpopulated that it could no longer support itself. At various points throughout the episode Kirk hears heartbeats and we eventually learn this is the sound of the hearts of the populace of the planet that surrounds the fake Enterprise. It is overwhelming to hear. The woman eventually becomes ill and is happy. That was her goal – to become infected with a disease which Kirk carried but was immune to so that she could bring it back to her people. Many had volunteered to become infected in order to ease the pressure on their planet and because they no longer wanted to live. In another episode, (Requiem for Methuselah) Kirk and Spock meet Flint, a man who has lived for centuries. He had been Leonardo da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great among others. In an effort to ameliorate his loneliness he had created a android companion. The crew eventually learn that Flint is slowly dying and it seems it will be a relief for him.

Dark Goddess Death

Humans seem to crave immortality (some moreso than others). Many see their children as a way of achieving that goal. Others pursue public works or donate money so that hospital wings or even buildings will be named for them. The sad truth is that nothing lasts forever, not even the greatest works of humanity. The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and Stonehenge are slowing eroding. “Civilizations” great achievements – towering skyscrapers, enormous damns and glittering arenas can be washed away in an instant. Today’s celebrities are tomorrow’s “whatever happened to?” fodder. Today’s heroes become little more than entries in a history book to the next generation. The truth is that everything changes, everything dies. We do not need to court death but I think if we can manage to appreciate the blessings it offers we might find a sense of peace within ourselves about its inevitability.

Caregiver to the dying, Handmaiden of Death

I have spent the last six years caring for my ailing mother-in-law. In that time I have seen her deteriorate from a semi-independent woman who needed assistance such as preparing meals and handling other household tasks to someone who needs help with the most basic facets of life. It saddens me because in her prime my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent woman. Despite the fact that she has a developmentally disabled son, she never asked for help. Now she is unable to walk without assistance. What makes it both sadder and a relief is that she is unaware of how helpless she is. She is like an infant – knowing only that she needs something and relying on someone else to provide it.

Dark Goddess Death

I feel like Death’s handmaiden. I am not in any way contributing to this process (although dealing with this has given me a new appreciation for euthanasia). My task is to calm her, provide what she needs (to the best of my ability) and try to ensure she’s not alone if/when her time comes. Having said all of this, I cannot help and will not justify the resentment I feel about this situation; the rage that flares up inside me at unexpected moments. The desperate wish I have that it would all just be over and I could reclaim my life again.

I am no saint or martyr. This current situation is intolerable to me. I detest it with every fiber of my being. Sometimes I practically vibrate with it. Every effort made to find assistance from external sources (government agencies, visiting nurse services, etc.) has either proven to be a dead end or beyond our financial means. I’m not willing to put this woman, who spent much of her life caring for family members, into a nursing home where she will be strapped down and drugged until her body can take no more. I may hate the lack of control and independence I have in my life right now but I would have that situation even more. I also don’t think I could forgive myself for it.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances have spouted various platitudes about some divine being who does not give us more than we can handle. Generally my response is either a pained grimace or a colorful rejoinder which includes various profanities (depending upon how well I know the person). I bitch and moan to anyone and everyone who will listen, including the indifferent gods whose existence I honor. I get it – this will end when it is meant to end. However I must reiterate that it sucks beyond measure.

The main take-away I’ve gotten from this experience is a fierce determination not to find myself in a similar situation. I have no one that I can count on to care for me if I end up like my mother-in-law. I’ve also seen the various nursing home facilities available for elderly people in this condition and the reality is that if a family member is not a regular visitor and if one’s health coverage doesn’t provide enough benefits, the patient/family member ends up ignored, neglected, and even abused in some circumstances. That thought gives me nightmares.

Wheel of Change Death

I don’t believe we deal well with death in our modern culture. We fight it with a desperate determination that often results in circumstances like this one. The body keeps going because medical technology can maintain the status quo but it can’t do much to stop the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So the body is kept alive and as healthy as possible while the mind continues to disintegrate.

Support services for caregivers who are tending to family members in this condition are minimal and (in my experience) woefully inadequate. It’s wonderful that there are support groups, but if I cannot leave the family members alone how exactly do I attend? Home visits from doctors? Oh sure they still happen, just not in this part of the county. Home care assistance? It’s available but not to my mother-in-law because she’s not on Medicaid. My brother-in-law (who is deaf and retarded) is eligible but services cannot be activated without a doctor’s approval. No doctors make home visits in this area and he will not leave the house without a serious fight. It’s a Catch-22 that leaves you bitter, exhausted and defeated. I hate it!!! In fact, I cannot stress how much I hate it. The only thing I would hate more is to have to institutionalize these two people that I love. I accept that. It’s the trade-off I make in my life. I’ll put things on hold to tend to them and I can still face myself in the mirror and sleep at night. It’s not a perfect situation but it’s the best I can do right now.

So if there is anyone else out there who has found themselves in similar circumstance, please know that you have my respect and admiration. It’s a thankless task that is fairly unappreciated by the wider society. Make sure you keep in touch with friends somehow or else the isolation with warp you. Take care of yourself. Even if all you can do is spend 10 minutes every day one yourself, treat that time as sacred. I’ve done the “giving my all to the relatives” trip and burnt out quick. I have found the work of Jennifer Louden and SARK to be inspirational and helpful in dealing with all of this. I still find it difficult to balance time for me with their needs but I’m stumbling along and finding ways. And if your choices are different than my own and you had to make the agonizing decision to institutionalize your loved one, please know that you have my sympathy and support. No one else can understand what you went through and how difficult it was for you to make that decision. Don’t allow anyone to shame you because of it. We are all just doing the best we can in this life and shouldn’t be held to someone else’s standards or expectations.