#ChattingwithTarot – 10 of Pentacles, Queen of Pentacles + Strength (#Dreamkeepers #Tarot)

Hmm, yesterday I drew the Queen followed by the 10 of Pentacles, today it’s the other way ’round. So clearly these energies still need to be explored further.

I think, in this instance, my ancestors are showing me the path to inner strength. They’re reminding me that I need to shuck the persona I wear for others and reconnect with my true inner self. It’s time to stop pretending. The best way for me to fully manifest and fulfill all my potential is to focus on what’s important to me. I need to find what I believe truly matters, not focus on what other’s think should be important to me. Once I’ve nurtured my inner and outer selves, honored my physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual sides then I will become truly strong. That’s when I’ll be honoring myself and my ancestors.

On being an outlier

I’m an outlier, an outsider, an oddball. I often don’t fit in even with groups to which I feel I belong. There is just something under my skin that become itchy when I try to fit in; be part of the group. I often joke that my motto is “Whatever it is, I’m against it” (thank you, Groucho Marx). In reality, it isn’t a joke. Even when it comes to opinions and stances which I share, I can’t help but argue the opposite position if I feel too many have jumped on the bandwagon. I don’t like to feel that I’m part of the majority opinion.  As Groucho also once said, “I wouldn’t want to join a club that would have me as a member.”

I’m not sure why I am this way but I tend to put it down to my parents exhorting me when I was a child not to do things simply because everyone else did. They encouraged me to trust my own opinions and not to be a follower. I may carry this a bit too far. This is both a blessing and a curse, allowing me to defend my positions despite others’ attitudes but also isolating me.

In order to get some clarity about this, I did a reading for myself.

Using the Wizards Tarot, I asked:

How does being an outlier serve me? Knight of Pentacles Rx
How does it hinder me? 2 of Cups Rx
What can I do with this information going forward? The Hierophant Rx

Being an outlier has been a way of protecting myself, of isolating myself before others could exile me. Of course, this also says a lot about some of the earlier relationships I had in my life. I did have occasions where those I believed were “friends” betrayed me or mocked me. It created a very weird dynamic and made me mistrustful and extremely cautious.

This mistrust and caution have also prevented me from forming closer friendships and emotional bonds. I do have friends but they are a small, select group. I don’t really do casual friendships which may explain why Facebook made me so twitchy. To paraphrase a friend of my hubby’s, if you haven’t seen me make a complete ass of myself at least once, you aren’t really my friend.

So, going forward I need to learn from these experiences; to be willing to use it as a learning opportunity. That doesn’t mean I have to change the way I am, simply that I should be more mindful and conscious of what I’m doing and why. Perhaps this will also serve as a tool for helping others who have similar issues.

I am Nobody

I am Nobody. Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Since first reading it, I have been drawn to Emily Dickinson’s poem “I am Nobody”. It speaks to me because I have often felt like a nobody. So I decided to pull a few Tarot cards to gain some insight. I decided to use the Allison M. Garcia Illustrated Blind Person Tarot that I discovered on Etsy.

Why do I feel like nobody? Queen of Cups Rx
How does being a nobody serve me? 10 of Wands
How does it hinder me? Knight of Wands
What would happen if I became somebody? 3 of Cups Rx

I love when Tarot does this, calls me on my bullshit. I feel like nobody because I don’t love myself or trust my insights and intuition. I’m afraid to connect to my deep, emotional nature because it leaves me feeling vulnerable and at risk.

Being nobody serves me by giving me something to grumble about; a burden to carry. It allows me to feel unfairly treated while allowing me to appear sacrificing and long-suffering.

It hinders me because as long as I cling to this delusion it will prevent me from finding my creative spark, my life calling. I’m meant to be active and charging forward. If I can’t channel it in creative, healthy, productive ways then it will find less beneficial ways to express itself.

If I became somebody then I will truly find people with whom to celebrate this joy, in a quiet, non-public way of course. I might alienate some but the odds are the are folks with whom I wouldn’t be simpatico anyway. Being somebody would allow me the freedom to celebrate my weirdness and quirkiness with fellow oddballs – like the Addams Family!

Curious that I drew two reversed Cups and two upright Wands for this reading. Considering how long it has taken me to appreciate Cups energy, I can’t say I’m thrilled to see them but clearly that attitude is part of the issue. Obviously my heart & spirit, my soul and spark are intertwined and if I can’t find the way to embrace both equally I’ll always feel like nobody.

#ComparativeTarot – The Devil (Bohemian Gothic, RWS, Transformational & Whimsical)

The Devil – quite a scary concept isn’t it. How often over the years have humans blamed their aggressive, inappropriate, unhealthy behaviors on some external construct? “The Devil made me do it” is often claimed in a joking manner but perhaps there is some truth to our belief that the evil, wicked things we do are because of the influence of some otherworldly entity but is this true? Does human belief in such an evil figure give it power and strengthen its hold on our psyches? Did we create “The Devil” so we could fob off the blame on something or someone else; a scapegoat? Are we so unwilling to face the darkness in our own souls that we would prefer to allow “The Devil” to claim it instead? These are probably much deeper questions than I can answer right now. Who knows, over the course of my Tarot After Dark blog posts I’ll probably express my opinion on some of these issues but that’s all it will be – my opinion. I have no expertise or additional insight and knowledge that grants me the power to find the answers for anyone but myself. I’m curious to learn where it will lead me.

So, I’ve been missing my Comparative Tarot essays and decided that I’d commit to writing one each week to share with any and all interested readers. Each week I will randomly select a card and then pull matching ones from three other decks. My goal is to include one RWS clone, one deck with a darker sensibility, one lighter more approachable deck and one collage or less traditional deck. This week I’ve decided to use the Bohemian Gothic, classic RWS, Transformational and Whimsical Tarot decks. Let’s explore what insights these diverse decks can offer into one of everyone’s favorite “bad” card.

The first thing that struck me looking at these cards is that one figure appears to be dominating or controlling the other(s). The black-winged figure in the Bohemian Gothic Devil is administering something in a syringe to the other. The recipient is resting against the “devil” and even hugging her close. The “victim” fully embraces her victimization or is she even a victim? The reality is that we can easily blame drug dealers for a loved one’s addiction but what caused them to take that first step? Very few are forcibly addicted to drugs or alcohol. In my experience, they seek them out in an effort to escape the reality of their lives. So is the drug use a cause or an effect? Self-medicating is quite a common extra-curricular activity in the US.

The RWS and Whimsical Devils both show figures that are physically chained or manipulated. They appear to be at the beck and call of whoever is at the other end of their chains.  However, a closer look reveals that those restraints can be easily removed. How fascinating because it implies that, once again, the “victim” is complicity in their enslavement. They could easily take control and free themselves from the restraints but chose not to do so. It makes me wonder about the allure of giving up control to another; to be void of responsibility for one’s actions. We see the reverse quite often when followers seek out rigid and strict religious movements. There is no need to consider what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable – the church leaders will clearly define that for you. The bound people on the Devil cards show us the flip side of that scenario.  They can indulge in whatever depravity or “debased” behavior they desire because their master told them to do it. Quite a bit of psychological research has been done in this area and the results reveal that in most cases people are willing to do cruel, inhumane things as long as an authority figure told them to do it. Clearly being truly independent and free thinking is a rarity.

The Transformation Devil is quite a bit different in imagery but similar in message.  It shows a woman in a black dress standing behind a web, framed in red-orange flames.  Outside the frame are black & white figures, some being restrained by horned demons. Is the woman a prisoner of the web or the ruler of it?  Is she trapped or the entrapper? Perhaps she’s both.  Let’s face it, nothing in life is as black and white as we would like.  Perhaps she was trapped by her own addictions and indulgences and now seeks to trap others because misery loves company.  Or is she the only truly free figure in the card?  She may be framed by the web and flames but does not appear to be part of them or imprisoned by them. Could she be like a Crossroads Demon in the TV show Supernatural – not necessarily seeking out victims but coming when called and promising to fulfill one’s desires at the cost of one’s soul?  Sometimes I get the sense we do not value our souls as much as we should and as a result are willing to lightly trade it away for the promise of materials possessions.

Although the images on these four cards are very different their messages are similar. They remind us that in most instances our enslavement is the result of our continued choices. We have the ability to break free and move forward but that requires a strength of will and willingness to take responsibility for one’s life that many do not truly want. We may prefer the blame self-destructive, addictive and violent behaviors on some external devil but the truth is that human’s need so external influence to engage in atrocious behavior. What The Devil in the Tarot reminds us is that we do not have to remain enslaved. We have the ability to free ourselves if we also possess the desire and will to do so. It may not be easy. Let’s face it, regardless of how or why we became enslaved or addicted once we become so it can be almost impossible to free ourselves without some assistance. Even if you can’t cut those strings or pull away from that addictive devil by yourself, you can seek help once you realize that you want to free yourself. The Devil is frightening and seductive but it’s also a wake-up call. If you want to take those chains from around your neck you need to do whatever it takes to be truly free. That message is clear throughout these four very different takes on this intimidating card.

Passions – what makes life worth living

Passion, excitement, enthusiasm, joy.  The other day I realized how absent these emotions have been in my life lately.  While chatting with a friend about hobbies it hit me that I haven’t lost myself in any of my hobbies for quite some time.  I collect and play with Barbies and similar fashion dolls but I haven’t redressed a doll in over a year.  I collect and use Tarot decks but I haven’t really played with my decks the way I once did.  I have more books in my TBR pile than I can possibly finish in this lifetime.  I have a list of recipes I want to try but instead, default to the same 10  What the hell is wrong with me?  I’m not sure but I do have a few ideas.
During the conversation with my friend, I realized that I’ve suppressed my excitement and passion because it became painful.  Seeing others who shared my passions being able to explore and enjoy theirs while I was stuck in caregiver mode sucked.  It made me envious and bitter so I must have decided on some level that if I didn’t want to become a bitter, bitchy (okay, more bitchy) person then I needed to distance myself from online groups and boards or else my envy would chew me up and spit me out.
Unfortunately, that also meant that I dampened my affect across the board.  I stayed in a middle position to avoid letting the negative stuff overwhelm me but it meant I didn’t really enjoy the positive stuff either.  I think in clinical terms it might be considered depression.  Luckily I realized that it’s a situation depression and not due to anything major.  That means I could treat it on my own – because gods forbid I should see help for anything.  I’m kinda stubborn that way.  I like to blame it on my Capricorn Moon.
So what is my solution?  Nothing especially groundbreaking.  I made myself a promise that I would consciously choose to engage in some of my hobbies.  For example – I re-committed myself to posting my daily Tarot card pulls at least 4 times each week.  I promised myself I would post something to my blog once a week.  I am determined to journal at least once a week (but preferably more).  There are small, simple and doable steps that I know I can achieve.  Once I’ve consistently done these for a few weeks I’ll add more or change them.  I also want to start reading books on journaling and finding your life purpose but I’m not making that part of this commitment.  I have also promised myself that I won’t spend money on hobbies/crafts for which I already have a wide range of materials that I have not used yet (such as my coloring books and composition notebooks). 
None of this is especially innovative or mind-blowing.  It might not be amazing, impactful or especially transformative for anyone else.  For me, this was quite an epiphany.  Sometimes it the small wake up calls in life that have the most long-lasting and beneficial results.

Misjudging Relationships

Have you ever observed relationships of people and initially perceived them one way but then had your eyes opened and realized you were totally off base?  I have.  It’s been quite an interesting experience too and one that has reinforced the concept of not judging books by their covers.

It usually happens when I come across what I would describe as a solar/lunar (or almost stereotypical male-dominated relationship).  You know the type I mean – the male/yang/alpha partner appears to be the dominant one while the female/yin/beta partner seems to cater, kowtow and reflect the alpha partner’s glory.  Now, I also have to admit that my life experiences have primed me to recognize these types of relationships because they’re the ones with which I’m most familiar.  They were the type most common in the blue collar neighborhood in which I grew up.  Unfortunately, they were also the ones I saw become abusive (although let me be clear, I’m not saying all of these types of relationships become abusive).  It is the kind of relationship I was determined to avoid,

Of course, one’s perceptions as a child and those as an adult are quite different.  Watching these types of relationships now I have come to realize that the power dynamic is not as imbalanced as I once believed.  I have learned that a more yin/beta partner can be just as controlling and domineering as a yang/alpha partner. They just use different techniques to ensure their goals are met. For example, I’ve watched the “passive” partner use subtle and sometimes not so subtle behaviors to influence their partners. The most frequent one I’ve noticed is almost a temper tantrum. The more passive partner will become upset because something is not to their liking (for example their food is not prepared correctly). Instead of addressing it with the wait staff, the beta partner will complain to the alpha partner. This will cause the more assertive partner to take up the banner and charge into the fray to ensure things are corrected to the beta partner’s liking. Or the passive/beta partner will push buttons that will result in the outcomes they desire but allow them to look blameless. Things turned out this way because of the alpha/assertive partner’s insistence. It can be fascinating to watch.

It’s an interesting dynamic and requires a subtly of which I’m not capable. I can admire it and acknowledge its effectiveness while accepting that it’s beyond my capabilities. The major realization I’ve taken away from these observations is that I’ve misread these relationships. Due to my own blinders and prejudices, I didn’t realize that just because the passive/beta partner is assertively challenging situations or fighting whenever their partner did something insulting, domineering or just not to their liking, that doesn’t mean they’re not handling it. They simply use a less confrontational (and possibly more effective) approach.

 

I’m not shattered, I’m a mosaic

While pursuing my MA in forensic psychology, I read a textbook entitled The Shattered Self. It was offered case studies of people suffering from PTSD, which the authors argued should be considered a dissociative disorder, not an anxiety disorder (I may be oversimplifying this, it’s been a long time since I read the book). As I read the book I had very mixed feelings; very personal feelings. I could to be objective about the material covered in the book. In fact it made me a little angry. As I read the cast studies many of them resonated with me on a deep level; their experiences often mirrored my own. What made me angry was the concept that these people were somehow damaged because they had found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. Why did the fact that they had shattered make them defective? To me, they were strong, brave, resilient people who managed to endure what many could not. Yeah, okay, there might have been some projecting going on there.

In retrospect I realize that the reason these folks had become case studies in this book is because eventually their coping mechanism felt apart and they re-shattered. They were suffering and trying to hold it together as best they could but failing. So, in theory, counseling or therapy would be beneficial. Of course because I am a stubborn bitch, I resisted even the idea that being shattered was harming me. I felt like a piece of safety glass – sure I was shattered but I was still holding it together. I hadn’t lost any pieces.

As I gain more experience and wisdom, I realize that I have also made myself into a mosaic. I replaced some of the shattered pieces with new ones that are brilliantly colored and uniquely shaped. I wear these new tiles with pride because they’re proof that I have the strength to endure and the will to keep moving forward. I don’t think I’m so special (or at least no more or less special than anyone else) because clearly the case studies in The Shattered Self prove that others have the same resilience that I do. At the same time, I am proud of the fact that I am resilient and even if I’m shattered I don’t fall to pieces on the floor.