A Hierophant in flames

I have on occasion been told that I should teach something – Tarot, CPR, child abuse awareness, either because the speaker thought I would do it well or because my job required it of me. I can do it. In fact when I have been a presenter/trainer at various professional functions I often receive excellent reviews. I am a show-woman; a performer who feeds off the positive vibes I receive from satisfied attendees. However, I have always resisted pursuing teaching in a more structured, formal setting and I have never fully understood why. I do enjoy teaching but feel no need to become a teacher. Today was a chilly, rainy, grey day here so I found myself with some time to ponder this quirk.

Pearls of Wisdom Hierophant

One of my biggest obstacles is that I do not feel I have the expertise in any specific field to teach others about it. I have never been one of those folks who believes that as long as I am a few lessons ahead of my students then all will be well. I’m not criticising teachers who do use that approach (more power to you), it’s just not for me. I have a tendency to shoot from the hip; to wing it when I present a workshop. This can only work if I have enough knowledge and information in my brain that I can draw upon to supplement and enhance my notes. I can improvise but only if I’ve got a solid foundation upon which to stand which means I need to feel I have a full grasp of the information.

Transformational Sage

I’m also fairly undisciplined. I have neither the inclination nor the patience to create a curriculum. My approach is usually to created a bulleted outline of all the information I wish to be sure to present and then weave my ways among those points with some verve and theatricality. I admire teachers who can sit down and create lesson plans and curricula but I cannot. In the past this failing bothered me. It made feel unworthy. Today I realized it’s simply because my teaching style is more in line with my overall personality – fiery and rather erratic.

Wildwood Knight of Bows

If you ever look at a flame, even one that appears to be steadily burning, it flickers and twitches in an erratic pattern. Even when it seems at its strongest, it can unexpectedly die out. It is one of the reasons we cannot leave fire unattended – its erratic, unpredictable nature. Today I realized I am a bit like that flame. I can glow and dance with brilliant and mesmerizing intensity and then suddenly I’m burnt to embers with nothing left to give. That can be entertaining in a friend and even enjoyable in a one-time presenter. It’s rather frustrating in a teacher with whom one has signed up for a semester worth of courses; at least it would frustrate me to be taught by someone using that style.

Teaching styles seem to vary according to personality type. I’m sure there are teachers who are very watery & cuppish in their energies; appealing to students in a spiritual and emotional way. I’ve had several teachers who approach their job from a very theoretical, analytical viewpoint – all that swordsy air energy, as well as many that have a practical, down-to-earth approach to presenting their subject matter to students. I suppose it’s even possible that the different teaching styles are drawn to specific subjects – for example I would not be surprised to find that many teachers drawn to hard sciences have a very swords-ish approach to teaching, but that’s just a broad generalization and guesswork.

Celtic Wisdom Rememberer

So I have decided is that I may pursue or stumble into teaching opportunities in the future and I need to be careful and cautious in how I handle them. If I am asked to do a one day workshop, I can probably handle that with a minimal amount of stress on my part. Being a guest speaker or substitute presenter would probably offer the same kind of acceptable stresses and benefits. Where I would be ill-suited, and thus unfair to potential students, would be presiding over a long-term series of classes or workshops. I may be able to handle such an assignment but I do not believe I would be at my best and thus the students would be ill-served. I am fairly comfortable stating that I know my strengths and I know my bullshit. If I ever set myself up as a tenured professor type in any topic I think I’d have to call bullshit on myself. Of course that’s just me, everyone else’s mileage may vary.

My strengths may be blocking me from going with the flow in my life.

Yesterday i drew the ogam Duir/Oak

Green Man Tree Oracle Oak/Duir

 

Based on its meaning, I asked the following questions:

What are my greatest strengths? 6 of Cups
How do I use those strengths? 3 of Swords
How do my strengths hold me back? 4 of Cups R

I interpreted these cards this way:

My greatest strength is that I remember things – family stories, fun memories, etc. and I honor those memories.  The 3 of Swords suggests I use those memories as a tool to help me get over betrayal and heartache.  The 4 of Cups R suggests that sometimes holding onto those memories holds me back because they prevent me from admitting when I’m unhappy or dissatisfied with situations.  I feel I owe something to someone so I can’t say I don’t want to do something for them.

Today I drew the ogam Saille/Willow

Greenman Oracle Saille/Willow

 

Based on Erynn Rowan Laurie’s take on this Ogam in her book Ogam:  Weaving Word Wisdom, I asked the Tarot:  Where am I resisting the flow of my life? 4 of Cups, 3 of Swords R + 6 of Cups R

Drawing these same cards today is reinforcing the message from the 4 of Cups R Saturday. If I’m going with the flow in my life then I need to be honest about what is making me dissatisfied and creating a sense of ennui. I think the 3 of Swords R and 6 of Cups R are reinforcing the concept that there is no way to stop the heartache in this situation no matter which choice I make. And all the good memories and nostalgia in the world can’t make this better. This is what it is.

Perhaps these cards are giving me the message that I need to stop fighting the inevitable. It’s not a sign of failure on my part (even if it feels that way right now). It’s not because I’m weak or incapable. Their needs are just beyond my ability and capacity to provide for or fulfill. If I keep caring for them it will mean my life is on complete hold for an indefinite time. I don’t know if that’s fair to me or them. It will cause me to become resentful and angry. That won’t make me especially nurturing or caring.

I also have to think of their needs. Is it fair to my brother-in-law that his social contacts and experiences are limited to me and hubby? Is it fair to my mother-in-law that there might be treatments that might improve her life but we can’t provide them for her? Is it fair that hubby and I can’t even go out to dinner for an hour?

I don’t kid myself that life is always fair or just. It’s also sometimes very ugly and cruel. However in these circumstances there might be steps I can take that will change that. There might be resources available that will make things a bit easier and less stressful on us all. Accessing those resources isn’t begging or a sign of weakness or mean that we’ve failed. It means we’ve accepted the truth and realize we need help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s time I embrace that concept.

 

 

Things to think about: weakness & strength – 5 of Wands R + 3 of Wands (Prague)

Tarot of Prague 5 of Wands Tarot of Prague 3 of Wands

Where am I weakest?  5 of Wands R (Prague)
Where am I strongest?  3 of Wands (Prague)

I am weakest in letting go and picking my battles.  Instead of being selective and focusing on which battles are important, I waste energy in futile and pointless struggles.  The 5 of Wands has always reminded me of a bunch of school kids engaged in mock battle.  Nothing is truly gained or lost but they enjoy tussling with each other.  As an adult, I no longer have the energy necessary to expend on these types of energy drains.  And yet I continue to do so.

I think the biggest energy drain and futile battle is the one to try to change the reality of my in-laws’ circumstances.  No matter how much I wish my mother-in-law would “snap out of it” that’s just not going to happen.  I also experienced this futile waste of effort when I kept acting as if I could start a business as a Tarot reader by sheer force of will.  The reality is that right now my time is not my own.  I don’t have the time or energy to devote to maintaining a website, promoting and marketing myself and actually providing services to clients.

On the positive side, I’m strongest in establishing projects that really take off.  Once I am able to channel all that creative energy I have inside, I think I’ll be able to see my ship come in and find success.  I think the 3 of Wands is also letting me know that I will find a way to build the partnerships and networks I need to achieve this success.

So my biggest challenge is accepting that sometimes the time is just not right for what I want to do.  Timing is everything and right now my energies need to be focused on my in-laws’.  I will have the time to focus on my goals, dreams and desires but now is just not the best time.  So rather than righting that reality, I might be better served by focus my energies on what I can achieve and using my energies in a more productive fashion.

COTD – Strength/The Woodward (Greenwood & Wildwood)

 

I am so glad I rediscovered the Greenwood Tarot.  I haven’t played with it in a while and had forgotten how much I love its somewhat dreamy and shamanic artwork.  Greenwood’s Strength card reminds me of Sekmet, the Egyptian goddess with a lioness’ head.  The legends of her definite indicate strength and forcefulness.  This image portrays a gentler but no less powerful sense of strength and fortitude.  The female hunter wears a mountain lion’s head mask and stands with a bloodied spear adorned with an anthropomorphic lion-headed statue in one hand and an offering bowl in the other.  A lynx stands next to her and an eagle swoops in the sky overhead.  She reminds me of deities of battle and death who can bring peace as well as destruction; healing as well as blood.  She represents the strength of compassion and the compassion in strength.

The Woodward on the Wildwood Tarot offers a similar sense.  He appears to be the caretaker of the woods; the one who can kill a wounded animal with compassion or who understands the concept of a “controlled burn”.  He accepts and understands that sometimes in order for life to grow and thrives, the weak and injured must be released.  He is the protector of the woods and its destroyer if need be.  His power and strength come from his ability to support those weaker than he as well as knowing when compassion calls for him to end their suffering.

Both these cards offer a powerful message and a reminder – without compassion, strength can become abusive and without strength compassion can become draining.  I have seen both of these situations.  In fact there have been occasions when I’ve embodied strength without compassion with every fiber of my being.  Not an especially pleasant fact to admit about oneself but I am rarely anything but honest about some of my less appealing foibles.  In some ways it’s the only thing that makes me bearable.  At least if I can acknowledge my flaws there is the potential to change them.  And I think that is the message this card is offering me today.

I’ve always felt an especial attachment to Strength because it is the card associated with my Sun sign of Leo.  And I’ve always had a fondness for lions and as a child used to love the story my mother told me about a little girl with a pet lion named Herman.  Lions also have a fabulous mystique to them – the regal kings of the jungle, the noble leader of his pride.  The reality is a little less perfect.  Male lions can be relatively lazy sometimes, leaving the hunting and day to day things up to the lionesses.  Lions are also rather quick to take advantage of carrion, despite our perceptions of them.  In other words they are real and live in the real jungle rather than the mythic, noble creature that inhabits our legends and lore.  I am the same.  Despite the myths about myself that I might build up in my head, I am usually fairly clear-sighted about who and what I really am.

I think Strength’s message to me today is that I need to incorporate more compassion into my strength.  I may be able to endure, withstand and overcome a variety of challenges and obstacles.  I may be a survivor and a fighter.  However that doesn’t mean I should have some compassion for those who are unable to share these traits for whatever reason.  Sometimes people go through cycles when they are vulnerable and weak and if I am able, I should help them.  At the same time I should not become an enabler or create a situation where is there is no incentive for the person to grow stronger.  It’s about balance and I need to work on balancing my strength with compassion; blending my fierceness and fieriness with understanding and supportiveness.  Granted that’s not my preference most of the time and it will take some practice but I think I’m up to the challenge.