Featured Arcana: The Devil (XV)

I am continually fascinated by the Major Arcanum, The Devil — he seems to show up in a lot of my daily spreads. 🙂 It’s taken me a while to finally get a better grasp on what he typically means in my life…

The Devil branches from the 6th sephirot to the 8th on the Tree of Life. This indicates a few important aspects of his character:

Another way to think of Hod (sephirot 8) is the allowing of chaos to occur while we simply observe it; we submit and watch it unfold. Or, if 7 represents the raw energy needed to make things happen in our lives, 8 represents the physical form we assign to the Ineffable Energy in order to better connect with it and call upon it for practical use.

So I have come to understand my friend, The Devil, as an archetype of submission to my Shadow Self. (Notice in the imagery of Baphomet the presence of male and female, animal and human…indicating that we are All at all times…)

Coming from a place of Balanced Interpersonal Interaction, the Devil is the name we give our nature when it releases itself from dogmatic control and we submit to our gut instincts. We experiment and see what happens, without apology. Notice the two children, one chained and the other holding the chains– we are in control of our own selves. Though we may feel chained by circumstance, this card reminds us that it is we who hold our own chains…

Ultimately, when the Tree guides us through 8 via the Devil, to the 9th sephirot of Self-Reflection, we find ourselves walking in the Sun… the two children of our nature have broken the chains that bound us and found even greater liberty than we’d had before.

Elemental Guidance

I love exploring the power and wisdom of the tarot’s court cards!

To begin understanding their complexity and potential guidance, let’s break down each element and its corresponding suit…

Fire (Wands): Energy, Ambition, Passion

Air (Swords): Thought, Mental Activity

Water (Cups): Emotion, Feelings

Earth (Pentacles, Disks, Coins): The Material World (including career, or any other physical surroundings)

It helps one to recall that “We can’t know anything outside our mind. Everything we see is contained within our mind. Thus, I am not in the world. The world is in me.” (— Haemin Sunim [@haeminsunim] March 8, 2017)

Thus, 3 out of the 4 elements are found originating within ourselves, and the material world is the recipient of whatever way we act out in response to these inner elements.

Continue reading “Elemental Guidance”

When Things Are Not As They Seem

I love the Tales that Tarot Cards can Tell!

“Yes, the cards are random. Yes, my mind by nature seeks out it’s own meaning from the cards I see before me. And, yes, that’s the point of it all. I look at what meaning my mind draws currently from the randomly drawn cards, and I am able to gain insight into my current state of mind. I am able to decide how I might chose to address my current state of mind; to encourage parts of it, or change other parts to better face my day ahead.”

One of the more intriguing aspects of tarot interpretation comes when the supposedly “bad” cards are found in “good” places, and vice-versa.

I’ve had a series of really powerful spreads to reflect upon since I did my Yuletide Sabbat Reading in December. It’s been a steady reminder to sometimes embrace my disappointments or mental defeats…

The above photo is the “quickey” Daily Oracle I drew for today. Side note: it impressed me doubly that the first card at the left was the same card I drew a couple days ago, as my “first step” toward resolving my inner issues; and, likewise, the third card, at the right, was the card in that same prior reading as one of my sources of inner strength I could draw from.

So, let me explain these cards and their basic meanings:

  • On the left, we have the 7 of Water (Emotion), or Debauchery.
  • On the right, we have the 5 of Water (Emotion), or Disappointment.
  • And in the center is the 7 of Fire (Energy/Action), or Valor.
  • The placement of these cards is as follows: Left = Where I am right now; Center = the Root of my obstacles today; Right = the recommended response to learning from or overcoming that obstacle.

So, we might say, then, that Valor is my problem and Disappointment is my answer. Say what?

This is where a deeper look into ourselves comes in handy. A Buddhist ideal is that “bad” and “good” have no intrinsic values on their own. They are simply labels that we humans attach to any given thing or event, depending on how we see it at the moment.

So, taking Debauchery (7 Cups): in this setting, it means I’m on the right track. I’ve taken the first step recommended in the prior spread; I’m in a good place. A deeper look at the concept of this card reveals that this state of Emotion doesn’t have to be “bad.”

Debauchery is defined as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.” So, there is a word of caution that comes with it: one shouldn’t wallow in stagnate emotions for too long, or the waters will rot. But, sometimes, it may be necessary to lie still in your Emotions and enjoy their sensual pleasures for a spell–just be aware that you will have to move on at some point.

Valor (7 Wands): it is a card of fiery Action! A pushing forward past obstacles using the sheer energy of your passion! And, weirdly enough, for today that is what is the Root of my difficulties I either face now or will face today. Valor is an honorable trait, to be sure. But often, our Fires of Passion can run over others and get us into trouble, burning up our surroundings that we have built with those same energies. Wouldn’t you agree?

Lastly, Disappointment (5 Cups): How can this possibly work as a “good” card–an answer to the “problem” of Valor??

One of the traits of water is to cool fire. Our Emotions can at times be the vehicle by which our passionate energies are cooled, allowing us to step back and think on things a little more. Deeper still, the principle of Emotional Disappointment is a state of non-equilibrium. We are, of course, not content to stay in Disappointment for long. The Waters of Disappointment seek to flow to calmer or more stable grounds.

When Disappointment is meant as a suggested response, it is wise to look straight into the face of your emotional upset and allow it to carry you along to a better emotional place.

Many times, we must not shrink from unpleasant emotions but embrace them and let them carry us forward.

Skepticism & Spirituality

I am, day by day, more a practical realist. (Being raised in unfounded, literalist belief systems that have damaging real-world and bodily consequences will do that to you.)

But, at the same time, I consider myself deeply, psychologically spiritual. We must remember that our opinions, observations, and views of the world around us will be colored by our own mental predispositions. Perhaps that is a part of what human “spirituality” ultimately is: constantly reminding our own selves that our mind is the influencer of everything we consider after we first take it in, and that, afterwards, our mind will use its penchant for patternsimage to instantly categorize similar future in-takes without further thought.

It is this wisdom, I think, to slow down and recall our psychological place and tendencies within our universe that is a major part of the Path to Understanding.

Tarot Tale #2: It’s Okay to Hang Out Sometimes

Jealousy answer

One of my regular struggles in life is my impatience with not seeing the results I want or expect. I work hard and love what I do, but, as this work finds itself in the topsy-turvy field of the “high arts” and academia, I often don’t see the acknowledgement or wide-spread celebration of my work that I often think I’m owed. Then, I get depressed about my personal expectations and berate myself for feeling that way. Oh, my sensitive and emotional self…embarrassed

So I asked my Higher Self today, what I can learn – how I can think about this situation and what I can do to affect positive change in this area. This is what my Higher Self taught me:

  • The root of my challenges: High Priestess (2). Too much inward thinking/self-analysis
  • This inward thinking is constantly focused on wanting my dream stability and fame so badly, and trying to draw inward to create it. (Ten of Beetles)
  • What needs to change: turn my thinking outward, ground it in reality, be mature in my thoughts (King of Bees).
  • What I can embrace to help with this change: The Fool (0). Embrace my spontaneity and my love of exploration! Go forth and see what I can find! Transform, leave behind what is familiar and comfortable. Start over/afresh emotionally and mentally. Embrace the original excitement for life and adventure that first started me on this path.
  • Final Lesson: The Hanged Man (12). Ultimately, no amount of struggle will accomplish anything here. I will be forced to stay here where I am, hanging out in Limbo, until I learn to see things from a new perspective. I might as well just hang out and chill. Hanging out in this way is a form of sacrifice: a sacrifice of myself to myself. Things are changing and growing in this situation, even without my involvement in them. I need to just let that process happen.

As you can see with my top, Current Situation card (Knight of Moths) and my bottom, Base Card (King of Moths) I tend to be a very active, energetic Go-Getter. I too often feel like, if I’m not getting what I think I deserve when I think I should get it, then if I can just change what I’m doing or increase my Action in doing it, I’ll get it.

So these impatient feelings aren’t bad. They’re a part of who I am. But sometimes, it’s important to acknowledge that struggle is useless. Sometimes we can do nothing and we need to allow the winds of the Universe and Karma to carry us forward. I love that sentiment: a sacrifice of myself to myself.

Featured Arcana: Strength

The tarSTRENGTHot card, Strength (8), holds great significance and meaning.

In the beginning, I had understood it in its most basic form as Inner Strength. But, being the eternal seeker that I am, I wanted to know more. What, exactly, does Inner Strength mean? How can it be applied in our day-to-day lives?

The Lion is symbolic of our own animal instincts, our desires, our passions, our jealousy, our rage, our lust…The woman controls the beast through the power of reason and through love via the heart. She may be secretly terrified of what she is doing but she is prepared to face her fears, to take the risk, to feel the fear and do it anyway. (from, Truly Teach Me Tarot)

Another way to think of Strength is by its alternative name in some tarot decks, Fortitude.

…it meant moderation in attitudes toward pain and danger, with neither being avoided at all costs, nor actively wanted…the woman looking calm and gentle, yet dominant over the lion. (from, Wikipedia)

In other words, we can also apply the Buddhist notion of “…the purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity… [to] study and observe your mind, at all of its various points of grasping — whether for attachment or for aversion…

Inner Strength, or Fortitude, comes down to a calm, logical acceptance of our instinctual, animalistic, Shadow Self — an acknowledgment of its presence and influence in our lives, and a decision to control and embrace it via reason and love, in spite of our feelings of fear or confusion.

The Tales Tarot Tell

It’s been an amazing journey, these past several months!

I had long been intrigued by the symbolism of the Tarot, and, based on my love of Jungian analytical psychology, I knew I’d enjoy delving deeper into the cards’ history and symbolism. So, I finally got myself a deck!

I’ve been faithfully researching and studying the cards: I’ve come to understand the importance of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the numerology, and the symbolism entrenched in the tarot, and it’s helped me understand myself and others in a wholly unprecedented way.

I don’t use the tarot in a shallow fortune-telling fashion. Instead, I use each reading as a way to shed light on my unconscious, to see what Story it is trying to Tell me for a particular situation, whether general or specific. I’ve been told that it is not uncommon for professional therapists to use a tarot deck in this manner to help patients understand themselves better. So, in these ways and for these reasons, I have fallen in love with the Tarot. I am able to combine my love of all the Esoteric practices that have meaning for me (Buddhism, Gnosticism, meditation, Kundalini, karmic influences, symbolic mysticism…) and use them together to form a clearer picture of my personal state of mind. The cards grant me a picture of what past influences are moving me at a given moment and what elemental course of action my Higher Self is recommending I take, based on these considerations.

It’s extremely difficult to describe it all, in all its glorious depth of meaning and value, in one post. There are plenty of excellent websites out there that have already detailed courses of study to further understand the Tarot. So, what I’d like to do here, under the Tales Tarot Tell sidebar menu, is share what Stories my favorite tarot readings are telling me, and how I’ve derived the meanings from the cards. I want to share my joy of being able to decipher the cards in my pursuit of understanding the vast collective unconscious and how it affects me today, how it could potentially affect my future if things remain unchanged and how best to effect those changes — what strengths I can rely on and what inner obstacles I should watch out for.

Perhaps you’ll be inspired to seek wisdom from this deep pool of timeless wisdom yourself, if it speaks to you.

And, if ever you’d like me to do a personalized reading for you, I am happy to oblige and share what I know! Just drop me a line! 🙂

Projection

If I project meaning and value onto the nature of my surroundings, why is it so strange to think that I also project my own values and meanings upon the people and communities among which I find myself– values which do not in themselves exist, were it not for me and my own interpretations.

And therefore, we act upon our meanings and values that we project and perceive onto others, and we may very well– no, almost invariably– react based upon entirely nonexistent factors. The anxiety and trouble we stir in our own lives is none but our own doing. Likewise, however, how easy it would be to redeem ourselves from this chaos, if not for the powerful nature of habit.

In Need of Compassion and Common Sense

Lately, I’ve enjoyed following the knowledgable posts of Dr. Coyne over at his website, Why Evolution Is True. While here at Mother Prontennoia, I’ve intended to keep this site clean of strident opinions and politics, this particular story of Lebanon High School and the state of its surrounding community presents an impactful and insightful look into the sociological problems I see and have dealt with growing up, and it saddens me greatly to see otherwise well-meaning and reasonable people act in such blindly atrocious ways…

Long-story-short, the principal of this high school gave a highly religious, one-sided presentation of the mainstream Christian faith during his graduation speech. Many have since called him out on it, while others have heatedly defended him. You can find Dr. Coyne’s thoroughly written articles on all of the developments of this kerfuffle here. Most recently, a student who attended their own graduation ceremony at Lebanon had some intense and intelligent things to say about their experience. I don’t think Society listens to the needs of the religious minority enough, and it is shameful. Please take time to read this student’s beautiful and heart-wrenching letter in its fullness here, though I’ll share some of the highlights from it for you below:

…What bothers me is the school’s [tendency] to dissolve other groups that promote tolerance of differences… Christian students often dismissed my opinions in class discussions about whether non-Christian sources were credible.  Political discussions in Social Studies classes were quite one-sided… What Mr. Lowery did at the 2014 graduation ceremony is hardly the first time that he danced around the Separation of Church and State for prayer… The students felt safe to bully me and my non-Christian peers, as they were the majority.  And the principal seemed inclined to protect them… At my graduation, I was prepared for him to say a prayer.  I did not expect a speech about America essentially being a Christian nation.  It was arrogant, aggressive.  I felt shamed for being a non-believer.  It was not a simple prayer.  It was an outcry of how he didn’t care about the minority.  I had already felt as though he had a personal distaste for me as he knew I was not religious… I graduated as an honor student, received generous scholarships for college, and participated in a plethora of extra-curricular activities.  I attended classes, made good grades, and treated my classmates with respect… …as my peers around me clapped and cheered for his prayer, I realized.  This is not for me.  I am not welcome here.  I have never been.  Lowery is not proud of me or for my various accomplishments, no matter what my class ranking was… No one cares if I leave the community or not, because my opinions are not welcome.  And Lowery further illustrates that they never will be… Several teachers have voiced their displeasure with Lowery’s statements, but have admitted to being afraid for their jobs to do anything that was anti-Christian…

Why, you may ask, do otherwise well-meaning Christians persist so adamantly and with such outward cruelty toward others? Isn’t the Gospel one of love and hope for others? Aren’t we the bearers of Good News for the nations? WTH then?

Now, it would be impossible – not to mention wrong – to lump all Christians into one finite reasoning for their actions, of course. Every person and their beliefs are different and highly personal, entrenched in our own experiences and environments as we navigate this life. Again, there are so many various slants (or flavors, as I’ve called them) to the Christian faith, and every person is unique even within a certain denomination or creed. But, having been raised in the Word of Faith style Christian home that I was, I can tell you the changes I’ve seen since my upbringing that are running throughout mainstream Christianity in this country, and it bothers me something fierce.

Take a look at one of the community responses to this Lebanon HS drama that Dr. Coyne has provided at his website:

Mr. Coyne as we remove God from all aspects of our lives the lower a nation sinks…it is God that kept the USA strong.  If ever we needed God it is NOW….we need Jesus He is our only hope.  As you remove God, satan steps in to fill in the gap…that is exactly what is happening today.  You don’t want God you will get the devil….thats who is ruling the roost today… Mr Coyne this is just a little bit of the evil that is being inflicted on us today, thanks to satan who rules today… Your agenda kills, it is destroying life on planet earth…if God bothers you so much get a pair of ear plugs…..stop taking our rights away from us…mind your own business… Look around , take a look at what is happening to our world, our country…and how bad things are really getting…. What gives you the right to take my right to believe in Him away?  What gives [you] the right to remove the only stabilizing force we have, our salvation, our anchor, our shield?… [My own emphasis in bold.]

Essentially, we who were raised Christian in these “latter days,” and those who still are Christian in these latter days, were/are trained to see the world around us in a constant state of decline – that Satan himself is in charge of destroying us, and the only hope for everyone’s survival is to bow the knee to Christ. Here’s the important point: The Christians who perceive the world through this lens cannot for the life of them figure out why those who don’t believe or agree with them, well, don’t agree with them. After all, can’t you see the destruction?, one might ask. Can’t you see that if everyone were just united in the love of Christ, who gave all for us, then we would in turn see a miraculous wave of joy and restoration to our land? So, of course, there is a war on Christianity, and this “war” is a spiritual one, with the fate of humanity resting on none other than the prayerful shoulders of mainstream Christianity. You just don’t see it, because you are blinded by the Devil and refuse to acknowledge God.

Now, whether you believe this to be true or not is completely beside the point, with respect to the point I’m making. What these Christians are failing to realize is that they are, quite simply, imposing their views on others without regard or simple respect. It’s the folly of whole-heartedly believing, with all sincerity and passion, that YOU alone have the answer to the world’s ills, and all anyone has to do is agree with you. There is, therefore, no longer room for respect toward any religious or philosophical viewpoints other than the mainstream Christian viewpoint — because, if all is controlled by Satan and all is therefore a deception, then it would certainly be foolhardy to allow any dissenting voice to be heard in the public arena.

These comments are given in an extreme light, to be sure, but for the community in which I grew up, this is an all-too accurate portrayal of everyone in the outside – those who did not believe the Bible the way in which my family did; ironically enough, that even included fellow Christians. Therefore, my life was full of harsh judgement and criticism directed toward others, giving way to a highly toxic environment. As I began to realize that I did not hold to the style of thought my family required of me, I too began to feel like an oppressed alien in my own home. I utterly hated it; I felt helpless and alone, and to be truthful, in some arenas in which I work and have my being, I still do. So I can imagine and empathize with what these students at Lebanon have felt, growing up in such a community, being in the minority of an increasingly vocal and oppressive society of well-meaning, mainstream Christians. It is truly unfortunate that, as it stands, society will not have improved as they enter adulthood, and they may be forced to continue to make uncomfortable decisions as a religious and philosophical minority that is regularly alienated and emotionally attacked by the majority.

For me, the hardest part of it all is feeling like my opinion somehow doesn’t matter, that it is somehow not truthful, or is even dangerous to our society, all because I don’t believe in a physical Satan and that my philosophies concerning all religions is that of admiring the constructs of the evolving human consciousness, and, too, that most religions have some element of use for us even today on a subconscious and metaphorical level — as long as we keep an open mind, rooted stably in scientific reality, and are willing to learn and bend and yield.

That’s just not good enough for the mainstream Christian of today, however. And I harshly blame the leaders of those passionate, holy-crusade style movements that have cropped up since the ’70s ad ’80s and gained such a violent foothold in our politics and society as of late.

It all comes down to this: that when anyone, regardless of religion or viewpoint, is afraid and attached to their life in such a manner, they are prone to purposefully hurt those who disagree with them, out of their own fear of losing that to which they hold so dear. Let us not fear change, let us be patient with each other and open to all possibilities and voices.

May we someday learn to embrace each other in true brotherly love and peace.