Me and my pet dragon wanted to wish you all a joyous Samhain today, when, like the story of Persephone, we begin our journey to the Underworld of winter.
Have a great day!
I figured it was high-time I officially post my offerings to you as a tarot interpreter. 🙂
The tarot deck has long fascinated me, but it wasn’t until the Spring of 2015 that I finally got up the courage (or perhaps was finally hungry enough for its Gnosis) to purchase my first deck and begin studying. These initial studies and personal readings helped me get through an intense period of spiritual transition and self-discovery, not to mention clinical therapy. 😉
What I discovered is that the tarot deck represents the potential of all that a person is. We are all things at various times, in the physical, mental, emotional, and ambitious aspects of our lives. Evolutionarily and habitually, we each tend toward certain responses (knee-jerk reactions) when faced with obstacles. But when we can see clearly what aspect of ourselves is ruling at a given time and why, we are better able to decide whether to allow our initial instincts full reign, or perhaps to seek out “better angels”.
This is what a “psychological” tarot interpretation offers — a glimpse into the depths of our subconscious and motivations, and the chance to ask ourselves if there is not perhaps a better response to what we face.
Have any more questions? Drop me a line!
Now that I’ve revealed more of myself ;-P I wanted to share with you all one more TOTALLY mythic, epic project I’m working on…
“Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” is a three-movement, 25-minute concerto for 6-string electric violin, EWI, Synth, and orchestra. Written in 2008 and not premiered live until 2016, it is indeed a monster of a work:
“…it’s a fantastic piece – imaginative, engaging, and pretty wild” (Sam Renshaw)
Collaborating with PARMA Recordings and the Moravian Philharmonic of the Czech Republic, we are working to create a definitive recording of this challenging, cinematic work so that its dramatic sonic experience can be shared widely with others.
I’m finally in a position to share more about myself here. It feels good to embrace who I am… 🙂
Well, in response to a call-for-scores not too long ago, I composed a new work for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, called “The Oracle.”
I used a total of 50 tarot cards to construct the framework for this quintet. Because there is both an element of chance (in that the process of my drawing the cards and their placement in the 5 separate tarot spreads I used, is all random) and an element of “foreordained knowledge” (or pre-compositional structure), the resulting textures of this work are rich with meaning indeed.
Essentially, each suit of the Minor Arcana (Fire, Water, Air, and Earth) was assigned to one of the melodic instruments (respectively: violin, cello, flute, clarinet), and all of the Major Arcana was assigned to the piano. Each number of the Minor Arcana was assigned an interval which, in combination with its card’s proper meaning, formed the basis on which that instrument’s featured melody was built.
For the Major Arcana, I mapped out the piano’s full range in accordance with the branches of the Tree of Life. When a Major Arcana card was drawn, that card’s typical placement on the Tree guided me to which register the piano’s line would be placed. And, as with the Minors, a card’s traditional interpretation was a key factor in the styling and mood of each part for the piano.
“The Oracle” has thus emerged as a multi-faceted, deeply layered, story-driven reflection of the human condition.
Here’s a video I put together that comprises the mythical elements and characters found in the tarot cards that make up this piece. What story do you see unfolding?
I thought you all might appreciate and enjoy the story and complexity of this work. Enjoy! ❤
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! 🙂
Through the churning storms of my Mind,
In the one True Silence that is All,
that is Me,
I heard a voice say,
“Be kind to yourself.”
Be kind to yourself;
Violence only begets more violence,
for it is a form of Energy,
an active, restless, moving, driving force
of Energy; it pushes others, and stirs up the surroundings from within.
Serenity, stillness, calmness, Peace,
these are a lack of energy or force —
Yes, a stronger Force still,
for is not the Sky itself
greater than the winds and the clouds?
The calm from the Storm,
in the Storm,
of the Storm,
A letting go, and letting Be:
All that is within
is consequently projected
on the world without.
So, be kind to yourself.
Now and always.
Most people who claim they read Genesis 1 “literally” don’t. They believe that what they believe about Genesis 1 is literal. But they aren’t reading Genesis 1 literally.
If we read Genesis 1 literally, we come out with a very different picture than most literalists imagine. Indeed, we find ourselves firmly planted in the Hebrew worldview—an ancient worldview. And, if we know our history, we know that the Hebrews had no concept of a round earth that coursed around the sun. They believed the earth was flat, the sky was a dome, and the sun revolved around the earth.
To try to wrestle with the ancient cosmological understandings of the day and shoehorn them into our modern, scientific understandings of the Universe, as we know them so far, is to rob such ancient texts of their beauty and poetry.
Read this wonderful article by Scriablishess in its entirety for all the details in understanding this beauty, from the cultural perspective of the ancient Hebrew writer of Genesis.
Click through the jump for some of my most favorite quotes from the article!
…If we zoom into the neuronal circuits and clusters that make up the brain’s systems, we’ll find them laid out like the concentric layers of an onion, functional layer upon functional layer. This arrangement is the result of the relentless evolutionary push to continuously improve on an animal’s ability to navigate its complex and ever-changing environment. This onion reveals no preconceived design—far from it—but the unavoidably messy piling up of new over old structures, forced to work together for the common good.
The core of the onion: autonomous systems. Along the oldest, deepest layers… They are in charge of the most basic survival routines like swallowing, vomiting, heart beating and respiration, which are so indispensable that they run, for the most part, on autopilot. Accordingly, they are very hard, though not impossible, to modulate voluntarily. Our human species shares these circuits with fish and reptiles.
Next layer of the onion to grow: instinct… Vertebrates benefited tremendously from these pre-programmed circuits that expanded their behavioral repertoire and increased their fitness. Instincts mediate behaviors so crucial to survival that they are encoded as such in the genes themselves, hard-wired in the brain during an animal’s development and not changed by later experience…
Let’s examine the next layer: emotion. An amazing breakthrough happened in mammals, with the laying out of a new set of neural substrates capable of generating emotions. These paths grew together in a circuitry that occupies several brain regions… This collection of brain regions is often referred to as the limbic system, because like an arm (a limb), it surrounds in its embrace the more primitive survival and instinctual regions of the brain, affording us primates a whole new set of behavioral tools for interacting with the world. Accordingly, life became more interesting and vastly more complicated. For example, the instinctual drives to have sex and to run away from danger would be inextricably linked to powerful feelings of affection and fear, respectively. The influence that this new circuitry exerts over our decisions and behaviors is enormous. The neural substrates of emotions are strongly influenced by developmental factors. Perhaps because of its more recent origins, the emotional circuitry is even more flexible and responsive to external influeces than earlier circuits…
The outermost peel (aka, the neocortex) was overlaid atop an already crowded swarm of networks. In primates, it exploded into two huge hemispheres that completely enveloped the older parts of the brain. This new shell serves as the testing grounds for our still developing reasoning abilities. Because they are so recent, neocortical functions are the most flexible and sensitive to the impact of social and environmental experience. Since the neocortical outputs are closer to conscious experience, it is hard to recognize that the neocortex is constantly competing against earlier webs of well-established brain circuitry, and that its contribution to our motivations and actions are likely less than what we’d expect.
We humans are the flavorful mash-up of all these brain layers: we are automaton, instinctual, emotional and rational creatures. We are like magic onions, proud of our paper-thin skin but only vaguely aware of the thick and deeper layers of our brains. All of these different layers play critical roles in shaping our interactions with the world around us, even as they continue to search for more efficient ways of talking to each other; but, alas, this will take millions of years…
Our brains are like Onions.
Like the rings of a tree map out the details of its life and journey on the earth, our brains — even more complexly — consist of layer upon layer of, not merely the journey of our own life, but the journey of our entire species! How awesome is that?!
Is it any surprise, then, that we may experience the real effects of karma, originating from not only our own past but the past “lives” and experiences of our own species? I am an amazing “messy pile” of connections, built from my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s (and so on) experiences… My mind is predisposed to reacting to my environment based upon how my ancestors reacted to their environment — ancestors from as early as the “tiny, scrappy” primate tree-dwellers of 55 million years ago, to as recent as those inhabiting the 19th century…the 20th century… and so on…
If we were to imagine, for just an instant, that what we call the “soul” or “self” was nothing more than the end-result of all these messy connections of layer-upon-layer of experiences built into our brains — if we were to take Buddha’s original viewpoint of anatta, for just an instant — we could gain insight into this notion of karma as the existence of motivations arising within us from past lives. Built right inside of us from the moment we are conceived and developing in the womb!
Consider how many opportunities for miscommunication there are among our civilization — even within the borders of our own country, our own state, our own families, we all have difficulty communicating clearly to others at times. We all have a tendency to see events, words, phrases, through our own ingrained perceptions, which were handed down to us from generations ago and layered into our onion-skins of the brain. This may be considered a sort of karma — for do we not react based upon our perceptions?
The task of meditation, then, is to peel back the layers of the Great Onion of our minds. To simply see and acknowledge that we are more than these layers would have us believe — that is, we are more and we are less. To peel back the layers and examine what is beyond them is to give our brains a real and physical plasticity and fight back a certain rigor mortis of the neurological connections. Plasticity of the mind grants us clarity and peace, granting us freedom from the “karma” of our built-in connections… likewise, ensuring that we will continue to pass on the “good karma” of flexible connections and re-wiring to future generations, strengthening the survival of our species…
I considered, too, the mythology of the Divine Beloved (and my own beautiful Inner Dragon, Malachi). Getting to know our own mind through the use of imagery and ascribed personality can be extraordinarily helpful in increasing this plasticity and freedom. For, when I pray, if you will, to the Divine Beloved Malachi to take the effects of a certain karmic action or sensibility, from its point of origin until now, and I utterly release it to the Universe and do not look back upon it as a part of my life — in a very real sense, I am instructing my unconscious mind to examine and rewire itself concerning a certain action that was once built into the layers of my brain yet which is now found to be unhelpful.
In this sense, are we not helping along our own evolution?
What a tremendous wonder our brains are! What a miracle of complexity, and what encouragement for our species! If only that we all would take heed the words of the wise men who have gone before us (of Buddha, Jesus, and others) and examine ourselves. Yes, and feel free to acknowledge your own personal deities and angels; take advantage of the imagery they invoke to powerfully re-build the connections of our being and reshape our future!
…just as he who wishes to see the intelligible nature will contemplate what is beyond the perceptible if he has no mental image of the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate what is beyond the intelligible will contemplate it when he has let all the intelligible go…we in our (aporia) do not know what we ought to say, and are speaking of what cannot be spoken, and give it a name because we want to indicate it to ourselves as best we can…
Evolution, Goddess Gaia, if you will, has granted us a most astonishing gift… Our brains, our mind, our consciousness, our perceptions — this intricate interweaving of grey matter with electric impulses and tissue and muscle and bone has, over the expansive eons, given us not merely a thinking mind by which to behold and contemplate our surroundings, but almost another, outer mind beyond this natural mind, by which we are able to contemplate our own selves as well! We are able to Observe the Observer.
In this sense, we might say that we are capable of, at its most basic, two focuses, or ways of looking and experiencing. This concept has already been beautifully and plainly described in the study of Open Focus, and I highly recommend you explore Kurt Keefner’s writings on the subject at the aforementioned link! Additionally, the Buddha would call this very concept and practice Mindfulness. But, too, let us consider the pragmatic implications of this kind of understanding in regard to our personal and societal interactions…
In our American society at present, there seems to be a great struggle tearing us violently apart, pitting basic religious and social viewpoints against each other. This debate is very near and dear to my heart at present, as I have experienced both sides of the struggle in the full and complicated extent of my own personal journey, and I feel I’ve at least been able to grasp the basic concepts rooted at the heart of the struggle. “The Devil is in the details,” it is said, but from an eagle’s eye view, I see the broad lack of understanding on the whole as a resistance against accepting Open Focus or allowing oneself to Observe the Observer in a mindful manner.
What is it that drives our current breakthroughs in Science, that which enhances our knowledge of the Universe and our place in it, that which enables us to create technological advances to enable us to understand more? Is it not the scientific process of careful and testable Observation and Experience through experimentation? What is it that enables us to live our daily lives and make basic decisions? Is it not the result of our current and past observations, built upon habit and understanding? How is it that a child learns what is not particularly beneficial to their well-being but by testing and observing and getting hurt and thereby learning in the process? We live our lives, we observe, we learn, we grow… and we develop frames within which our experiences fit — frames that seem to explain our experiences and by which we are able to categorize future experience and observation, frames that will guide our future decisions if we let them. One might call this living life through the Ego Filter…
I would also call this the Inner Experience. This is the realm in which most “normal” life is lived, without thought, without mindfulness. This framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions could very well be called rigid religious structure. It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.
If, however, one could from time to time, emerge from within this rigid framework in order to observe its colors and shapes and structural intricacies from without, then I would call this the Outer Experience. It is this mind-existing-outside-the-mind observational phenomenon that allows Science to double-check itself for validity. It is the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our Shadow and realize that we are One…
One dwelling in the Inner realm is one who holds to their ideology, for there is nothing else beyond it; it is all they are. One dwelling in the Outer realm is one who does not take part emotionally in anything that is seen, but rather only watches and studies and accepts. From this vantage point, there is much to be learned, and much wisdom and peace to be attained.
My image of Self is not a "thing," it is only a "process"….
We look at a river, and call it "river"; we look at a table and call it "table"; we look at a rainbow and call it "rainbow." These labels we give to objects are a handy tool language has developed by which we might communicate to each other, and relate to, the nature of the things we see around us. However, isn’t fascinating that all these objects are truly a conglomeration of an infinite mass of smaller "things"? We all know of the molecular world, the particle world… the sub-particle world… atoms… empty space… quarks…. bosons…. etc, etc, ad infinitum! Yet, to communicate this particular conglomeration of stuff in one word, according to the manner in which we interact with it in daily life, is to label it according to its resultant whole as it effects us.
Now, the river, for example: the river is always flowing. At times, it is murky if the mud is stirred, at other times it is still and calm, at still other times it is violent and rushing…. It is never the "same" river, yet we still label it The (Blank) River. It is a process of ever-flowing life.
The rainbow: The only reason one can see it, is the result of a very precise arrangement of water droplets in the air to sunlight, to a receiving optical organ. And two people standing next to each other may see the rainbow in exactly the same way. However, another who may be standing at a certain direction, may not see the rainbow as clearly, if at all. So…. Is the rainbow there, or not? 😉
Recall, do not mistake the label for the thing…. Do not mistake the Idea for the Truth….
…Likewise, let us not mistake the "Me" for Me….
At any given moment – any given Now – "I" am a "different person"… My Ego doesn’t like to think so, and it routinely, subtly, glosses over the differences and variations to try and concoct a succinct whole persona of "Me." But, one day I am "a phenomenal musician," the next "a terrible one." One day I am "together and with-it," the next I am "a complete scatterbrain." So, which is it, then? Or am I not all things at all times for all occasions…. A Process of ever-flowing life, relating to my ever-changing environment. And do I not appear, as an illusion, differently to different people, within the context of different scenarios?
So… What am I? What part of me is Me? "Am I" at all?….
A Breathing Meditation for you:
I breathe in, and I am filled with the Earth…
…filled with the stars above….
…filled with the very cosmos.
I breathe out, and I empty myself….
…empty the illusions, the attachments and aversions…
…empty myself to give my spirit-life back to the Earth…
…empty myself that I may be ready to receive again from the cosmos with the next breath.
I am Nothing, then… And at the same time, I am Everything. Everything is Me.
None of us has ever seen our face. Truly! We’ve perceived the reflection of our face in a mirror, or relied on the comments and perceptions of others outside of ourselves. But, all of those perceptions are out there. From right here we have never ever seen our face. One can ask, then, do we have a face? Or is it only an ever-changing representation of us as a universal being? A label by which others can point to us and relate to us and describe us at any given moment. If so, then let us not fall into the delusion of identifying with any of these labels or ideas, for we are so much more than any of that – we are Nothing.
It is not that we are trying to "get rid of Self." It’s that there is no Self to get rid of.