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

Sharing the Heart of Tarot

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.

  • What can I expect from a tarot reading with you?
    I can offer a range of spreads (number of cards), depending on the depth of your questions. I will gladly read as few as a “Daily Oracle,” 3- or 6-card spread with you, or anything beyond the scope of a basic 6-card spread. We can also do a Sabbat Spread together, illuminating your present journey during one of the 8 important phases of the Earth throughout the year and offering suggestions on how you might better prepare as the year unfolds toward the next Sabbat.

    I will provide your personalized interpretation as a detailed pdf with a photo of your spread, emailed to the address you specify. Get your reading today!

  • What about fortune-telling, or love and career advice?
    You are in charge of your own destiny, and there is nothing “mysterious” or “metaphysical” about a card spread save for whatever meaning you give to that spread. All a tarot reading does is to point you in the direction of where your innermost thoughts and tendencies are currently leading you with respect to a given circumstance.A tarot reading will offer insight and clarity into your own patterns of thinking as well as suggest alternate ways of thinking you might choose to explore. Armed with this knowledge, you are free to chart your own future and enrich your own relationships.
    In this manner, I only serve as a knowledgeable interpreter of the in-depth symbolism the cards hold as they are laid out in front of you, and I can act as a guide to your application of this knowledge in your own personal situation.
  • What Tradition do you base your interpretations on?
    I rely on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life as a map of understanding the journey from a spark of Inspiration, filtered through Intention, and resulting in Action. The cards form both the Sephirot (Minor Arcana) and the branches (Major Arcana) of the Tree, offering a picture of where your current mind and heart currently lie — according to what your own subconscious says about the matter.When I do a reading, I am not at all “psychic” and much more “logical” or “studious” in my approach (what can I say? I’m a Sun and Moon Aquarius with Virgo Rising!) :p  So don’t expect magic and goosebumps, but do expect detailed accuracy and careful thoughtfulness. 🙂

Have any more questions? Drop me a line!

Be well.

Personal Magick

In the end, nothing is wrong with creeds or beliefs as long as you stay aware of your individuality, keep your freedom and are able to enlighten and improve your own self without getting dependent from any outside influence or structure. It does not matter which God or Goddess you have, or how many of those, or if you have anything like that at all, it is completely unimportant whether you believe in the divine, or in fate and coincidence, or solely in the laws of physics.
The Tarot is valuable and suitable for any kind of person that has an inside, a consciousness and a subconsciousness. It is completely independent from any belief but the belief in your own self. (from Magick in Creeds and Beliefs)

Visit Raven’s Tarot site.

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.

Gaining Deeper Insight

Enjoy the new reference page I’ve just created — gaining a deeper understanding of any Tarot reading, using the branches of the Tree of Life and the Major Arcana as bridges between the Sephirot!

In short, there are 3 Triangles that represent a self-contained cycle that stands at a given point of Life’s development: (1) Divine (Collective) Consciousness, (2) Personal Consciousness/Awareness, and (3) Material Reality. Between each of these is veil, and a number of the Major Arcana act as Bridges across the veils, taking us from triangle to another…The Three Triangles

Really impactful stuff! Check it out here!

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Be a Master, Be Free

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Let not the Mind, in its attachment to the Past and to the Future, steal the Present from you. Let not the Reality of what Is, and is Now, be hidden from you. See what Is, in all its purity and reality. Let the same be true of the words we speak and the actions we perform. Let us study ourselves, and embrace the reality of what is true.

Peeling Back the Layers of Karma

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…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…

Ruben Baler, Ph.D.

Our brains are like Onions. :mrgreen:

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!

The Inner and The Outer

…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…

—from “Apophasis”

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.

Consider this:

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.

Sweetness of Freedom

Look within–the rising and the falling.

What happiness! How sweet to be free!

—The Dhammapada of Gautama the Buddha (ca 500 BC)

How interesting and striking a revelation I’ve been enjoying today!

Osho said, in his commentary on the above sutra:

…It is through the breath that you are bridged. Breath is the bridge between your soul and your body… the watcher cannot be watched, the observer cannot be observed. Suddenly one day you will realize that you are the witness of it all. And the witness is certainly transcendental to all that it witnesses. In that very moment freedom has happened to you.

 

This moment is today!

I’ve been sitting on an unpublished blog post for a while that I titled, “The Inner and the Outer.” In it I spoke of a beginning understanding of these such things:

[Evolution has] 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.

(I think it’s about time I published it, actually!) 😳

In contemplating these notions, these very sutras and essences today, the phrase: “The watched is NOT the watcher… the observed is NOT the observer…” stayed with me mightily. And the power of that statement flooded me with joy and wonder!

Think of it: My “Outer Mind” (if you will) as it observes my “Inner, more oblivious, Mind” — well, they’re not to be thought of as the same being anyway! The Watcher is not the Watched. 

Well, and come to think of it, to have ever called these Minds as “mine” in the first place, is itself a type of clinging, is it not? It is Attachment and Ego.

As you observe from a position of the Outer Mind and Open Focus, realize that the Watcher is not the Watched. You are not what you see. You are Nothing, and Everything. Where do you end and the world begins?

Breath is the gateway… Be the Observer… Enjoy the Sweetness of Freedom.

Sweet to be Free