How can I use these insights to help others? Imbolc (The Star) R + 9 of Fire R (BoS As Above)

BoS As Above 9 of FireBoS As Above Imbolc

Two more reversals – I’m batting 1,000 right now.  Today’s cards show two different yet powerful deities – Brigid and Pluto.  Of course it should make sense to me because both their energies are connected to the issue I’ve been exploring this week – healing old patterns and embracing healing and prosperity.

Looking at Imbolc I see Brigid kneeling at the waters edge adorned by her crown of lit candles.  Her right hand is scooping water out of a cauldron while her left is pouring water into the pool in which her leg is dipped.  A rabbit sits next to her and a sheep wanders in the field behind her.  In the distance the sky is just beginning to show the gorgeous sky blue pink hues of morning.

As a powerful goddess of inspiration, healing and snithcraft, Brigid even managed to survive Christianity destruction of Pagan gods and beliefs.  She transformed herself into St. Bridget – midwife to the Virgin Mary and foster mother to Jesus.  Imbolc is sacred to her as well as a celebration of the returning of the milk to the sheep. It’s a time to rejoice in the fact that the earth is finally begin to awaken.  There may still be snow on the ground but beneath this wintry blanket the land is slowly coming back to life.

Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld and wealth.  The companion book describes him as a surgeon that cuts away the dead tissue.  I see him as something of an initiator too.  He helps us face the darkness in ourselves so that we can move forward and bloom in new ways.  Only by cutting away the dead flesh, burning the dead wood, can we see new growth.  This card symbolizes those issues we know are looming ahead, the ones we keep trying to avoid but which eventually snare us.

In answer to my question, I think these cards are telling me that once I’ve healed myself from these past behavioral patterns and embrace abundance and prosperity, I can help others deal with similar issues.  This is a journey for me and not one I expect to finish any time soon.  It took me a long time to get this way so I anticipate it taking just as long to change those patterns.  Along the way perhaps I can share my experiences with others suffering from these issues and offer some guidance.  I don’t need to be the expert, simply the one who has gone before.

What unnerves me about stability? The Goddess R + Omens/Warnings (The Tower) R (BoS As Above)

BoS As Above GoddessBoS As Above Omens

Oh goody, two reversed cards.  I just love reversals.  Actually, all snarkiness aside, this makes perfect sense in terms of the question and the issue I’ve been visiting this week.  While discussing my reading on Monday with a friend she posed the question I’m using today.  She pointed out that we often repeat behavioral patterns we learned in childhood and from our families even when they’ve ceased to be useful.  In my family financial stability was an illusion for most of my childhood.  My parents were perpetually broke which resulted in a lot of change and upheaval.  At the same time there was a small core of stability in my life because we always moved around in the same neighborhood and my maternal grandmother was always part of my childhood.  This created a situation in me that means I’m uncomfortable with stability because I’ve never known it; it’s uncharted territory for me.

As my friend pointed out, I tend to thrive in chaos.  I perform well under pressure.  In fact I spent most of my academic career function that way.  I regularly waited until the last minute to complete assignments and received great grades.  As a result I never felt the need to learn effective time management skills or become more organized.  Now I’m starting to realize that if I want to be a successful entrepreneur I’m going to need to acquire just these skills.

The Goddess (Empress) reversed is reminding me that abundance and prosperity were scarce in my childhood.  As a result I’m not fully sure how to manage them.  This results in situations where I either overspend while I have money or am not able to effectively budget when things are tight.  I end up finding myself in stressful and chaotic situations.  In the past this has been annoying but not created serious problems.  Now that is no longer the case.

Omens/Warnings (The Tower) reversed is telling me I haven’t fully dealt with some of the fallout from our changed circumstances.  I am able to deal with the craziness that results from caring for the in-laws (once again thriving in chaos) but long-term planning and financial stability are just not a focus right now and they need to be.  We’re so busy acting on what’s going on today that we aren’t planning for tomorrow.  We’ve also learned that several of the plans we had made are no longer feasible.  We haven’t fully dealt with those changes either.  It’s as though the lightning has hit the tree and a huge branch that is now broken hangs over my house but I don’t see the urgency in removing it.  That’s just short-sighted and irresponsible.  It’s also another pattern I learned in childhood.  I had so little control over the craziness around me that I just gave up (in certain areas).  I focused on what I could control and excelled in school and other arenas.

So now that I can see these lingering childhood patterns my next step is to change them.  I just need to take some baby steps so that I can gain some mastery over this area.  Towards that end I’m reading about time management and making some efforts to actually implement them in my life.  I doubt it will be easy but at least I’m learning.

What am I afraid to become? 4 of Earth + The Path (Hermit) (BoS As Above)

BoS As Above 4 of EarthBoS As Above The Path

It has occurred to me that my behavior in certain aspects of my life force me to wonder why I am so resistant to making changes I know will be in my best interests.  Some of these would impact my health (specifically eating patterns).  Others could impact my profession (such as updating my blog to include a page so that anyone interested can order an email reading).  Still others would just provide overall improvements to my quality of life (such as getting more organized).  In my mind I know these things but I can’t bring myself to implement them.  If I were reading for a client who had this issue I’m sure I’d offer some pithy, practical advice to get her/his ass in gear.  That made me wonder what is causing this resistance; what am I afraid will happen if I do these things?.  So I decided to ask the Book of Shadows As Above Tarot that question.

I had to laugh when I saw these cards appear because on the surface the 4 of Earth didn’t make sense to me.  I looked up the card’s meaning in the companion book and a few things became clearer to me.  I’m not afraid I’ll become a gnome or too set in my ways (that ship has already sailed) or stingy.  As I looked at the stones and crystals on this card I realized that perhaps one of my fears is becoming a resource to others.  As long as I keep things on a light, casual, almost flippant level I don’t have to take responsibility.  If someone challenges me about a statement I make I can always back off with the “I was only kidding” excuse.  Taking this to a professional level means I need to be responsible to my clients and treat the cards and those relationships with integrity.  I may also be in a position to help people mine their own lives to find the buried treasures that lie within.  Being that kind of resource terrifies me.  It’s one of the reasons I didn’t pursue a PhD in psychology.  The idea of having vulnerable people come to me for advice, clarity and counseling frightened me.  I felt like a phony to even think I could offer that kind of wisdom and support to anyone.  Instead I took shelter in sarcasm and smart aleck responses.

The Path seemed to bring me a clear message as soon as I saw it.  I am afraid of being that person who can walk out into the wilderness and blaze a new trail.  I give enormous credit to people who choose to read Tarot cards or other non-traditional services in a professional and public manner.  It really does have the potential to put one beyond the pale.  I remember the reactions I got from people when they learned I was pursuing a MA in psychology.  I often got comments like “oh you’ll never figure me out” or “what am I thinking” (obviously some folks still have a distorted view of psychology).  That might have been another element that made me reconsider pursuing a doctoral degree.  I don’t mind being a bit odd  or “out there” but I usually don’t want to scare people away completely.  And the people who tended to be drawn to a psychology student tended to scare me away.  Pursuing Tarot as a profession would mean taking that first step on an unexplored, unknown path.  I have no idea where it might take me and I’m afraid to find out.

I’ll be exploring this issue more as the week continues because I am committed to taking this step and if I want to succeed then I need to stop sabotaging myself.

Why am I conflicted? – Witch of Cups + The Devil (Crone)

Tarot of the Crone Witch of Cups Tarot of the Crone Devil

Seeing these two cards was a bit of a shock – Ellen’s Devil is no joke.  This image is a bit terrifying and seeing it made me rear back a bit.  What the hell message is this devil giving me?  I actually called for backup interpreting this because I am too close and likely to miss something.

The Witch of Cups with her dancing, flowing energy sings to me of dancing to my own music, singing my own song.  I can hear Karen Carpenter’s amazing voice singing “don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.  Just sing, sing a song.”  That’s the energy I’m receiving from this card.  She’s dancing a tale of living a genuine, soulful life; of being true to your deepest self.  Her arms are raised towards the sky as though she embraces the Universe in all its wonder.

The Devil with her fearsome visage is repellant.  She eats her own arms and is surrounded by fearsome teeth just waiting to devour her in return.  How many times have felt as though I was eating myself alive; tortured by self-doubt and inner demons?  In this situation I thing that is a piece of this cards message for me.  In the companion book Ellen writes “I am the Fear that binds you, the Hate that eats you, the Pain that never lets go.”  Whoa!  That’s not exactly reassuring.  Then again reassurance is not what I’m seeking here.  I need to face the issues that are holding me back from living as the Queen of Cups.  The Devil reminds me that it’s my own fears, hates and pains that twine and twist around me until I can’t get free.

I need to face and embrace these fears, hates and pain before I can be truly free and live a truer life.  Some of what imprisons me are external factors – family obligations and financial realities.  There is a limit to what I can do to change those factors.  However the internal factors are ones I can face, embrace and release.  So what are those factors?  On some level self-doubts still linger but I believe those are minimal at this point.  I think the others factors are more predominant right now.

One of those factors is my aversion to reading Tarot professionally.  It’s no a reluctance to ask for payment for services rendered.  I am a firm believer that many people feel that get what they pay for so free readings are not as valued as they should be.  My issue is that I don’t like the idea of having to do a reading for someone when I’m not in the mood because I’ve been paid for the service.  It gives me a sense of being a dancing monkey – throw some coins my way and watch me perform.  Now that I admit this is an issue for me I can decide how to proceed.

A friend suggested that another factor is that I’m still feeling the after effects of being fired.  Despite the fact that it was over 5 years ago and I know it was not due to my performance it still deeply shook my faith in myself.  If it wasn’t due to my performance then it was my personality – something I can do much less to change.  Of course on another level I know the situation was due more to the issues of the “the boss” than me.

Looking at this image I was struck by the idea that once I have devoured the parts of myself that are dead and not helpful anymore I can give birth to my new self.  Like maggots that eat away the dead flesh, I need to cut away aspects I don’t need anymore.  I am changing and reaching a point where many of my former self-defense mechanism are no longer helping.  I need to develop new coping strategies and new approaches to my life.  Once I do that I can release he fears, hates and pains that are holding me back.  Acknowledging them is the first step to defeating and releasing them.  I feel that I’m on my way.

What is my next step? Shatter those crystal walls and allow myself to wallow in every experience – Beast of Disks + Shadow of Swords (Crone)

Crone Beast of Disks Crone Shadow of Swords

The first thought that struck me looking at the black pig on the Beast of Disks I heard the phrase “the Cutty Black Sow” in my head.  I wasn’t sure what that meant so I looked it up.  The primary reference is to an old Tales from the Darkside episode.  There are also some indications that it was a mythical creature used to scare children in Wales on Halloween.  I’m sure it has its roots in older legends of wild boars and dangerous pigs but the majority of references using this specific term refer back to the old TV show.  And how appropriate to draw this image on the night of a full moon.  I seems symbolic – as though I’m giving birth to new dreams.

Looking at the Shadow of Swords the phrase “shattered self” drifted through my mind.  This was a concept I learned about in psychology class.  It occurs when someone who has experienced a traumatic experience manages to cope for many years but the psyche eventually shatters because the trauma was never healed.  I also get a sense of someone who has become crystallized in an effort to separate from the pain and isolate the emotions.  That is one way to survive and make it through traumatic experiences but eventually it can cause a split from one’s emotional nature that results in deeper trauma.  It reminds me a bit of what Voldemort must do to his soul in the creation of Horcruxes.  Eventually what is left is barely human.

So with these two rather bleak images in my head, what do I think these cards are telling me?  That I need to allow myself to devour and destroy those areas in my life that are unhealthy and no longer useful so that I can give birth to new possibilities.  Yes, the Cutty Black Sow devours what she catches but sows are also quite prolific breeders.  Sows may eat almost anything including their young but they also produce litters larger than most mammals.  The potential to manifest something amazing is unlimited.  The Shadow of Swords is reminding me that I have to stop living in my head.  I need to interact with people and start picking away at those shards of crystal forming on my skin.

It’s ironic that as I was reading The Dark Goddess:  Dancing with the Shadow by Marcia Starck and Gynne Stern I connected with something Gynne wrote about her experience meeting Inanna.  She describes how she felt more of a connection to Erishkigel because she always saw herself as an outsider.  She writes about avoiding participating in group activities and then regretting it because she ends up creating the very situation she dreads.

How many times have I done this very thing?  I talk myself out of participating in group activities unless I know all the participants.  Then I have regrets because it sounds like everyone had a wonderful time.  That is the Shadow of Swords manifesting itself.  It keeps me isolated and safe behind crystal walls.  I need to shatter those crystal walls and allow myself to wallow in every experience like the black sow.  Sounds a little gross but maybe I’ll learn more that way than by thinking everything through to the point that I’m mentally paralyzed.

It’s good to be The Emperor (to paraphrase Mel Brooks)

Steampunk (Matthews) Emperor Sevenfold Imperator

 

Looking at both images I was struck by the Emperor’s aura of confidence and self-assurance at being the master of all he surveys. He is surrounded by the trappings of his success – sword, orb, eagle and staff for one and a multitude of machinery for the other. They are reminders that in order to build an empire, one must have a stable and solid foundation. A civilization cannot be build upon chaos.

For me personally, this card is not about building an empire (as much as that might appeal to my ego), it’s about reinforcing the message that I am the Emperor of my own life. I have claimed the power and authority to do what I want to do and not follow the dictates of others. Of course that’s easy to say and doesn’t necessarily mean I will follow my own advice.

I realized yesterday, after a less than successful event on Sunday, that I am still riddled with self-doubt and those damn inner demons are quick to jump on that. I only attracted one client at the psychic fair. My friend, sitting at the next table, got three. I actually watched one person look at us both and then chose her. This led me to wonder why? If one knows nothing about either of us (and as far as I’m aware, they didn’t) then what would make you choose her rather than me. I’m not questioning her abilities (she’s an excellent reader), merely what would draw someone to one of us and not the other.

I put this question to my hubby and he pointed out that I can sometimes be intimidating – especially when I’m on a rant. I completely understand and agree with him on this but that wasn’t the case here – I wasn’t talking. Another friend mentioned that maybe sitting next to my friend unconsciously brings out all my insecurities as a reader – another great point and possibly true. I also realize that although I want to do well, sometimes I’m more concerned about others making the money they need. Is it possible I’m subtly jinxing myself? Or maybe I’m just over-thinking this and the Emperor is here to remind me that I am in charge and need to stop second-guessing myself (although it is my favorite hobby). Sometimes stuff just happens.

The bottom line is that I do know I am a good reader. However, that does not mean my reading style and approach will work for everyone. I have a unique take on life, Tarot and pretty much everything else. I know that I’m an acquired taste and sometimes I overwhelm folks or even repel them. I had the same effect on guys when I was younger and trying to date. I intimated or downright frightened a lot of the guys I knew growing up but I eventually found the perfect guy for me. The same thing will happen with my Tarot practice. The more authentic and true to myself I am, the quicker I will develop my client base. The more I put myself out there as a reader, the more likely I will be to find the right clients for me. So I just need to take a deep breath and trust. Whew!

How do I shelter myself? Knave/Page of Pentacles (Celtic & Northern Shadows)

I have recently begun working with ogam cards because I want to learn more about them and become more comfortable working with them.  So each day I draw an ogam card to see where I should focus my energies for the day and then pull a Tarot card for additional insights.

Today I drew Fern/Feorn.

Using Erynn Rowan Laurie’s fabulous book Ogam:  Weaving Word Wisdom, I found the question given above and drew the Page of Pentacles.

How intriguing to draw this card.  The first thing that hit my brain when I saw this card is that I shelter and protect myself by remaining a perpetual student.  If I never represent myself as an “expert” or authority on anything then I can’t be truly wrong.  A student is always learning so there is no loss of face in being “wrong” (a big problem for me – being wrong).

It also offers a level of shelter and protection because if I’m continually on a learning curve then I can’t blame myself for not moving forward in certain areas.  I can convince myself that I’m still learning so I can’t be expected to be ready to move forward yet.  I use learning and my pursuit of academic knowledge as an excuse for not actually doing anything.  I love learning about a variety of topics but putting that knowledge into action frightens me.  Manifesting my desires is scary because what if the results aren’t what I’d hoped and dreamed?  Oh my, not having my dreams come true – how tragic!

Another reason I shelter myself this way is because I am a great student.  I always receive positive feedback from my teachers and professors.  I tend to do well academically and receive very good grades.  My brain finds college almost easy.  If I actually applied myself I might even have managed a 4.0 GPA.  I realize that sounds arrogant but that’s not my intent.  I’m merely stating a fact – my brain works that way.  I’m not  and especially gifted artist or crafts person.  Whether it’s a question of learning or interest I’m not sure but I’ve never bothered to put the effort into learning.  For some reason my attention span, when it comes to these areas,  is quite short.

I also find that my interests wax and wane.  Sometimes for several years I will be a dedicated doll collector; learning everything I can about their values, the differences between various models, etc.  Then I will lose interest to such a degree that if I could sell the entire collection in one shot, I would.  Of course there is always a possibility that I will become interested in them again some day soon so that might not be a good idea.  I have the same experience when it comes to cookbooks.  I go through phases of genres.  Right now I’m very interested in American cooking – historical, regional and community cookbooks.  In the past I’ve gone through  an European phase (Italian, French, Irish, etc.), then a vegetarian phase, followed by a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern phase and finally a tea and scones phase.  Eventually I find myself forced to weed out cookbooks and those that I don’t at least look at periodically go on the chopping block.

Now back to the significance of the Page of Pentacles with Fern.  If this fid refers to a need for protection, shielding and defending oneself, then that is certainly an appropriate image.  I’ve often felt that when I was growing up I was the only defense I had against a world that was increasingly hostile.  My parents may have loved me but they were incapable of protecting me, especially from the damage they caused.  I also come from a rough neighborhood during a rocky period when violence and poverty were fairly prevalent.  My experiences during this time left me with a heightened sense of vulnerability and a need to build a wall to protect myself from permanent damage.

Erynn Rowan Laurie’s fabulous book on ogam, “Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom”, offers the insight that, on a chthonic level, Fern can symbolize warriors and the military.  I’ve never been in the military, but have often felt that I was a warrior – sometimes a worn our and very tired warrior but still a warrior.  My biggest challenge is that I’m also not a very disciplined warrior.  I’m untrained and sometimes this results in unnecessary struggles.

This card is also the third Pentacle card I’ve drawn in the past 10 days or so.  All instances seem to connect with my inner nature, my dreams and my insights in the world.  I get the sense that they are trying to tell me I need to stop dreaming and talking about things and start manifesting.  I need to take some practical steps to bring things into fruition so that I can stop feeling quite such a student and mature in my path.  The Tarot has long been giving me messages about getting out of my head, off the fence and start moving.  Now it appears the ogam is chiming in as well.