Thoughtful Thor’s Day: It’s a noir world after all

I’ve been finding myself considering a lot of different things lately. I’ve been a bit unmotivated because I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m not sure why but dealing with it is proving challenging. My intention to begin maintaining a journal has also been derailed. I have good intentions but when the time comes to actually write, I procrastinate. I’m not sure what the resistance is but it’s annoying.

I’m also finding myself drawn to film noir and noir novels; stuff like Sin City and Mike Hammer. I’ve always had a fondness for the genre. Andrew Vachss’ Burke novels and Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder books are two of my favorite series. They describe a world where “good guys” can be corrupt and brutal and “bad guys” may have a higher moral and ethical code. I’m very familiar and comfortable with that world. Growing up in my neighborhood I was well aware that cops weren’t always law-abiding and some criminals were actually pretty decent human beings. I don’t subscribe to the delusion that all criminals are really Robin Hoods at heart or that all cops are dirty but I’m well aware that those possibilities exist.

In some ways I’m rather surprised I enjoy noir tales. As someone who prefers not to deal in shades of gray it’s interesting to me because noir tales are awash in gray and shadows. Nothing is clear, nothing is absolute. It’s world filled with moral ambiguity and rampant examples of situational ethics. The very behaviors that make a character a hero in one tale might condemn her to villainy in another.

Maybe my forays into noirish realms are a way for me to explore these gray, shady areas of life. There are few real-life circumstances that are clear-cut, black and white issues. Shades of gray (aside from being the title of a widely popular, poorly written book) describe most human experiences. Is Yahweh always good? Is Satan always bad? Do the ends always justify the means? I wish there were clear, simple answers to these questions but there aren’t. What film noir and hard-boiled noir novels do for m is allow me to consider this different viewpoint and live it vicariously through the characters. They allow me to learn what motives and drives them. Why they made the choices they did and behave the way they do. They may not be pretty or have happy endings but I find them enthralling and captivating. In fact I think they can be summed up by the phrase “no one here gets out alive”. Whether the characters are “good” or “bad” the one thing you can be sure is that death comes for them all in the end. Sometimes that all the comfort available in life.

I can love my choices and keep my creative spark lit – The Lovers R + Ace of Wands (Spirit World)

Spirit World Lovers Spirit World Ace of Wands

Today I need to focus on the choices I’m making and how it impacts my energy and creativity.  It’s interesting to use this deck for this process because the Wands suit is associated with the lemures – the spirits of the restless, vengeful or malignant dead.  That doesn’t sound fun or enjoyable and at first it left me a bit stumped.  Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that creative energy can seem frightening.  It leaves us feeling charged and fiery but if we don’t have a sense of direction for that energy it can turn on us.  It can leave us feeling burnt out and frustrated.  That sounds the way I would expect a restless spirit to feel and certain could become malignant if it lingers too long.

So looking at these two cards today I see that I need to be more gentle with regards to the choices I make (the goddess hovering in the air above the lovers reminds me of Kwan Yin, a gentle, loving goddess).  I think it’s also reminding me that I need to find a way to live with the choices I’ve made without losing my creative energy and becoming a malignant spirit myself.

The key is accepting that I did make this choices.  I could have made other ones and my path would have taken me to a very different destination.  However I don’t know if I would have been happy with the person I became once I reached that destination.  I could have refused to help care for my in-laws; insisted that they be placed in facilities.  I could have refused to participate in caring for them and let my husband deal with it on his own.  I could have made several different decisions that would have dramatically changed this situation but would I still be me?  (Well of course I would be it would be a very different me.)

I seem to keep receiving this message (in slightly different forms) because I need to be reminded of this fact.  I don’t regret my decisions but I am human.  Sometimes I wish things turned out differently.  I wish I had more patience and different resent some of the sacrifices I’ve made.  I wish I could return to the lifestyle I had before – with the ability to splurge occasionally without worrying about the finances.  However at the end of the day I am happy with the choices I’ve made.

The key for me to stay healthy in body, mind & spirit is to remember that I need to find healthy outlets for my creative energy, my fiery nature and my restless spirit.  That is what can trip me up and lead me to becoming malignant and vengeful (or perhaps resentful and miserable).  Some days I’m better at this than others but I have to remember to keep up the fight.  I can’t allow circumstances to dampen my flame (or rather allow myself to douse my creative energy because of these circumstances).

What must I leave behind? 10 of Wands (Wheel of Change & Mythic)

 

Reacting strictly from a visual impression, my immediate response was that I need to leave behind the feeling that I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders or perhaps what needs to be left behind is the actual weight I do carry.  I can see this card applying either way.  I must admit that right now I feel more like Jason sitting beneath flaming staves while the remains of my ship rots in the harbor – a pathetic reminder of who I used to be.

There is a strong vein of self-pity running through that comment and I know it.  I am feeling sorry for myself and perhaps that’s what this card’s message to me truly is – I need to let go of the self-pity.  My current life is not what I’d envisioned, hoped for or ever imagined.  I had dreams and plans for greatness.  I was on my way to a life of modest accomplishments of which I could be proud and somehow I took a left turn into Maw Maw-ville.  I have been pulled into the world of being a caregiver for my elderly mother-in-law.

I won’t revisit the details (or maybe I’ve never visited them in the first place but they’re irrelevant here) but suffice it to say this is not where I thought I’d be right now.  Then again I suppose no one ever expects to find themselves in this position.  I’m certain that no one plans or hopes for it.  Having found myself in this position, there isn’t a lot I can do to change it – at least not right now.  What I can leave behind is the self-pity.

I need to move passed my frustration and resentment and feelings of being trapped, unappreciated and thoroughly miserable.  It is a thankless task, one that wears relentlessly on my spirit.  If there were some honorable way I could absolve myself of these responsibilities I would.  Unfortunately (or perhaps it’s fortunate), I can’t do that.  I don’t believe I could face myself in the mirror if I packed the in-laws off to an institution.  So having made this choice, I need to find ways to make it a bit easier for me to carry this weight.

What do I need to think about today? Empress R (Mystic Dreamer & Mansions of the Moon)

 

While considering this card’s message to me today I thought about how I view The Empress.  I’ve often considered her to represent the primal female energy – that nurturing, supportive and protective energy that allows life to flourish and flora to bloom.  I’ve often seen her to represent that feminine essence that is a bit gentler, more intuitive and less structured.  She is about creating communities and encouraging growth.  And while I respect the Empress’ energies, they are not ones with which I am always comfortable working.  However we have come to an understanding between us. and she has appeared reversed several times as my card of the day.  So I have to wonder what it is about her nature when she’s reversed that I need to consider.

As I was taking care of my elderly mom-in-law it struck me that I have been knee-deep in the Empress’ reversed energies.  If she is the one who nurtures, nourishes and supports the growth of new life, then she must also be involved in nurturing and supporting those who are reaching the end of their journey; helping them deal with the aging process and preparing to move on to the next phase.  It is her energies that allow adult children to care for their parents – dealing with such tasks as preparing their food to dressing them to changing their diapers.  Depending upon the situation, the elderly parent becomes dependent upon his/her adult children and their roles are now reversed.  That seems quite an apt expression of the reversed nature of the Empress’ energies and ones with which I am intimately acquainted.

So despite my best efforts to avoid the energies of the Empress, I have found myself swimming in them up to my neck and to be perfectly honest I am glad I have the ability to serve in this capacity for my mother-in-law.  She spent many years of her life functioning as mother to her sons, especially her deaf and mentally disable d son.  Now she cannot do it anymore and many of those tasks have fallen to me.  Hopefully I can help make these final years as positive and loving as I am able.  I’m glad I was able to find this connection to the Empress in my life.

COTD – What energies surround me today? 10 of Swords (Blue Rose & Infinite Visions)

 

Oh my do I feel like the figure on the Blue Rose 10 of Swords.  Taken from a Salvador Dali work, this figure looks as though it is not only being pierce but that pieces are being taken out of her.  I know that feeling.  There are days when I feel like the Universe is slicing pieces of my skin and there is nothing I can do but bleed.  Like the hunched figure on the Infinite Visions 10 of Swords, I feel a sense of impending doom.  Even the dog seems to sense his mistress’ distress and despair.  What I’m unsure of is whether the doom is for me personally or merely reflecting how I’ve been feeling lately.

The weather also contributed to this sense of gloom and doom I have been having.  Between the devastating storms and the lingering gray and gloomy landscape outside my window, it’s been difficult to be positive and cheerful.  It’s as though the sword of Damocles dangles overhead and the least movement will bring its sharp point in contact with my head – not a pleasant sensation.

I had to take a break while writing this to clear my thoughts – I was starting to depress myself.  While pondering these cards anew I was struck by something; how often have I been the swords in another’s 10 of Swords experience?  I am the first to acknowledge that I have a wicked wit and vicious tongue.  Comments that I might consider witty and humorous can and often are taken by those at whom they are aimed as daggers stabbing at them.  That is often not my intent (although sometimes it is) but I sometimes go for that kind of sharp-tongued repartee that is usually more humorous to those listening than to the one at whom it is aimed.

This card is reminding me that I need to be more judicious in how I apply my wits and tongue to various situations.  Mocking others or humiliating them with alleged witty “jokes” is often just mean and not well done of me.  Just as I prefer not to be the butt of someone else’s jokes or snide remarks, so most people do not enjoy being the butt of mine.  I need to use my wicked wit and vicious tongue for more worthwhile pursuits and try to avoid causing pain to others.  I may never achieve perfection in this area but I think it’s worth the effort.

COTD – 10 of Pentacles/Stones R (DruidCraft & Wildwood)

 

Today I completely understand this card – it’s all about me!  Family and friends are focusing on me today rather than me focusing on family matters.  It’s my birthday and I insist on feeling as excited about that as I felt about birthdays as a child.  It’s a celebration of me, of my life, of my happiness.  Yes, that is a very self-centered approach and I think that’s why the card is reversed – the focus is internal on manifesting what I consider a happy birthday rather than a party that would require me to focus on others.  And I’m not in that place today.

Seeing this card also made me think of the Simon & Garfunkel song Homeward  Bound.  They sing about the emptiness and shallowness of the life they’ve been living and how they wish they were homeward bound.  I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned over the last year.  All the “things” I felt I had to have in my life to make me happy have turned out to be shallow distractions.  They are fun and I do not feel they must be discarded but they are not what makes life worth living.  Whether I get a specific doll, book or even Tarot deck is ultimately not going to make or break my life.  How I treat the people in it and how I deal with challenges and adversity are what is going to determine what kind of life I have.  It can be fulfilling and meaningful or shallow and full of pretty things.  I’ve come to realize the pretty things are just bandages to cover up the pain of a shallow and meaningless life, at least for me.

It’s also the mom-in-law’s birthday – a piece of irony that has never escaped me.  We spent quite a bit of time over there and I think she had a great time.  She just likes being around people and she had two of her favorites with her today – her nephew and my mother.  There was a lot of laughter and fun.  I used the wonderful gift card my sister gave me to order a fabulous cast iron Dutch oven that will be used for baking bread once the weather turns colder (a very Pentacles thing).  My mom also got me a lovely bakeware set that is made in USA (always an important factor in my choices but even moreso now) and a lovely herb pot to grow fresh herbs.  Hubby got me a lovely new Tarot deck, the Vision Tarot by Dirk Guillabel.  It was basically a quiet, fun, family-oriented day and I had a fabulous time.

Today also marks the start of my Hierophant/Temperance and considering both are my birth cards I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.  My Emperor/Death year had a lot of upheaval and a lot of building going as, as one might expect.  Somehow I get the sense that this year will help me become who I was truly meant to be.  I think it’s going to be an interesting journey.

 

 

COTD – Judgment R (Fenestra & Dante)

Traditionally Judgment represents a time of returning to the light after experiencing the darkness.  It is a card of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation; of healing and transformation.  It can also be seen as a wake-up call telling us that our perspective on life is about to change and wake us up to new ways of looking at things.   It may represent experiencing natural growth and maturation; an old phase of your life ending because you are ready and mature enough to move forward.  Things are maturing at their natural pace and now you are transitioning into a new phase of your life so it’s time to celebrate.

“Negative:  The things that are naturally growing and maturing are not to your advantage.  You may feel like you want to slow things down or speed them up – the natural or normal progression of things is just not right for you.  If you let things develop at their own pace and in their own style, you probably won’t be pleased with the results.
Reversed:  Your personal biological or psychological timing mechanisms are signalling a new phase in your life.  You may be reaching puberty or getting gray hairs.  You could be growing up on an emotional level.  You’re recognizing that you’re experiencing a personal rite of passage.” – Gail Fairfield

Dante LWB:  “Archangels.  Renewal.  Awakening.  Recovered energy.  Healing.  Birth.”

How fascinating that I drew this card today of all days – the supposed end of the world.  I have to assume that whatever else this card is trying to tell me, at least one of its messages is that today is not Judgment Day.  Maybe what is really being judged is our own sense of entitlement regarding who will and won’t be “saved” as well as our hidden guilt and shame.  No matter how often we claim that we have nothing to fear, those little demons inside our heads will haunt us and prey on our feelings of self-worth.  They torture and judge us much more effectively than any celestial judge or coven of devils.

Looking at both images it is apparent that they share certain similarities – the celestial figure (the Archangel Gabriel?) blowing his/her horn and the bodies or spirits rising up from the ground in response.  It certainly expresses a theme of redemption and salvation prevalent through Judeo-Christian-Muslim theology.  However on the Dante card there are three celestial figures – the archangel blowing the horn, one holding a scroll with the words “Anima Dvertes” inscribed on it and a third crowned figure holding an orb and an upright sword.  It appears that one wakes the souls, one judges the souls and one carries out the sentence.  The souls below seem to be pleading and begging with these celestial figures, as though they fear they will be judged guilty of something and denied salvation and paradise.  Despite the flowing, dream-like quality of this image it give a sense of harshness lacking in the Fenestra card.

I have to admit that due to all the hoopla surrounding today and the “end of the world” theories, I’m viewing this card as a bit more global in nature than would usually be my wont.  Both cards suggest that there is a new phase that needs to happen but it isn’t ready to manifest itself just yet.  Our judgment (or the judgment of ourselves) is postponed for a while.  However this can still serve as an opportunity to review our actions and decisions and see where we can make things better.  Instead of waiting until things are too far gone or it is too late, we can take this opportunity to move forward in a more positive and beneficial manner.

In order for healing and renewal to occur, we need to be open to those energies.  We can’t open ourselves to healing if we deny there is anything wrong.  How many times have you been diagnosed with an illness that is not immediately life-threatening (such as Type II diabetes, or some type of food allergy) and instead of making changes in your life, you chose to ignore it.  As a result your health continued to deteriorate and you were prescribed more and more medications.  Eventually you might have developed additional health issues – a heart condition or deteriorating eyesight; things which could have been avoided had you taken the proper steps from the outset.  We are creatures of habit and changing those habits, even when we know it’s in our best interests, is hard.  Things are also complicated by the fact that we don’t know who to believe or what information to trust.  Too often in the past we’ve supported someone’s agenda only to learn they were deliberately skewing the facts.  All of this increases our cynicism and makes us less open to changes and the potential for healing and renewing our lives.

The bottom line is that we are the only ones who can take responsibility for our choices and our lives.  The government can try to legislate such matters as much as they want (such as the idea to tax sugary drinks that is gaining popularity in New York) but the reality is that it won’t change people’s minds or behaviors.  Trying to force people to change tends to make them become more intractable and married to their beliefs.  Maybe the only thing we can really change is our own behaviors.  By choosing to live in a sensible, healthy and positive way perhaps we can serve as examples for others and lead them into making better choices too.  I have to admit that I am one of those people who resists and resents being told what to do even when my brain realizes it’s a good idea.  Trying to force me to make those changes just makes me dig in my heels and resist with all my might.  However when I’ve been around people who quietly and simply live their lives in a positive way, I tend to get inspired.  I’m not talking about folks who love to brag about driving a Prius while they play with their iPhone, laptop and other electronic gizmos and can’t wait to get the latest upgrade (you know the one’s who contribute to what South Park terms “Smug”).  Anyway, enough of the soapbox.

So I think what Judgment reversed is trying to remind us all is that we have to be able to withstand the judgment of our own conscience; that voice of our inner critic.  For the most part, humans are very well aware of when we are behaving in a negative and unhealthy manner – whether it’s for ourselves or for the world.  We just allow ourselves to rationalize the guilt away.  For today, perhaps we need to be a little less rational and trust our instincts more.  We need to sit with that inner guilt and come up with a way to move forward and live our lives in a manner that won’t generate more guilt.  That’s probably the best way to quiet those inner critics and reduce our fear of being judged before some celestial court.