Prana: Something to Take With You Today

I’ve been determined these past few weeks to meditate every single day, and it’s been extremely helpful for my practice of internal balance and individuation.

I decided to do a 25-minute long session today, unguided — meaning, I was left alone with none but myself for 25 whole minutes, haha!

What I kept coming back to was my breath. I kept reminding myself that, while my body changes over these 25 minutes (I started sweating, my foot started falling asleep, my back needed to be reminded to rest on the easy flow from my diaphragm, etc…) — while all of that was happening, my breath never changed.

Prana is defined as “life force”:

[It] comprises all cosmic energies that permeate the Universe on all levels… In living beings, this universal energy is considered responsible for all bodily functions through five types of prana… Indologist Georg Feuerstein explains, “The Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Amerindians orenda, and the ancient Germans od. It is an all-pervasive ‘organic’ energy.” — wikipedia

While some techniques of pranayama are meant to control the breath and life force, ceasing what is thought of as the origin of our mental restlessness, we can also focus on simply accepting and relying upon our prana, our breath. (I’ve been working on acceptance of my Shadow and other parts lately.)

So, to recap what I learned, my body will undergo changes throughout the day, my mind will stir with endless thoughts and feelings and beliefs… but my breath is always there, always flowing… in and out… and I can focus and rely on that regular pulsation of Life throughout my day. ❤

Finding Your Own Reality Through Comparison

I just finished a personally enlightening meditation (if you haven’t checked out the Pacifica app I highly recommend it!) and I wanted to share a bit of insight I got.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the nature of Reality, how there are several layers that constitute one’s Reality, and awareness. And in executing a very simple guided meditation of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, I was reminded that we only know our own physical reality.

Humans have an amazing intuition for “guessing” others’ similar realities. But we can only truly know our own.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11, KJV)

So, when I strive to relax my shoulder muscles, how do I know exactly what relaxed is? We say relax, but for each body relaxed is its own definition. The only way to know what relaxed is for ourselves is to compare it to tense.

By purposely tensing and then relaxing our own muscles — and becoming aware of what each feels like — we become acutely aware of what the relaxed and tensed states mean for us individually.

Sometimes I become aware that I have unrealistic ideas of what something means for me, even something as basic as “relaxation”. We must remember to learn for ourselves what our realities truly are, so we can live more fully in them.

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! 🙂