Featured Arcana: The Devil (XV)

I am continually fascinated by the Major Arcanum, The Devil ‚ÄĒ he seems to show up in a lot of my daily spreads. ūüôā It‚Äôs 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.” (‚ÄĒ 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.

When Literalism can be Beautiful….

Most people who claim they read Genesis 1 ‚Äúliterally‚ÄĚ don‚Äôt. They believe that what they¬†believe about¬†Genesis 1 is literal. But they aren‚Äôt 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‚ÄĒan 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.

—-Scribalishess, from “Reading Genesis 1 ‘Literally’

 

continuum-Fig-3-2-hebrew.preview

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!

Continue reading “When Literalism can be Beautiful….”

Conformity and Renewal

…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…

–Romans 12:2, KJV

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.

–Jesus, Luje 17:33, NLT

What does being “conformed to this world” mean exactly? From what, does Paul suggest, should we be renewing our mind? Many have read the above passage from Romans and interpreted it to mean something along the lines of:¬†“If it isn’t like me or the traditions of my church and family, or follow the precepts as proclaimed by my pastor, then it is of the world and I am to reject it.”

This is too easy, however; this is living the Inner Life: the “framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions…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.” Recall, “The Shadow¬†is who/what we believe we are not…For every aspect of behavior and personality the Ego has chosen for itself, all else is thrown off onto the Shadow. The Shadow is everything the Ego denies‚Ķ.”

But, consider: What is “the world” of which the Bible speaks so often and, most often, in a most odious fashion, that we should reject it wholly? Again, too often, pastors and their flocks have taken it to mean “everything in the world that is not like us and what we perceive in the Scriptures — that which is not of our familiar culture or our personal Inner Experience.”

What if we break it down a bit? One might say the World is:world

  • sin
  • destruction
  • loneliness
  • arrogance
  • dog-eat-dog
  • unloving
  • dark
  • hateful
  • proud
  • disobedient
  • ungrateful
  • cruel

The list could easily go on and on, but I think we can all agree that this is the most typical view of The World — it is right and good that we should abstain from such things, to be sure. But, the interpersonal problems may arise when we, again, view the list above¬†purely from our own personal¬†reference¬†points of what these evils are.

What does cruelty look like? What is pride? What is sin, exactly? Does the male in my community who enjoys expressing himself through the use of eyeliner embody sin and lostness? Is the woman next-door who refuses to wear a dress and “dresses like a man” proud and disobedient? Is homosexuality equivalent to destruction?

This is where the purity of Jesus’ words may shine through —¬†Do not cling to your life.

The renewing of our minds ought to be a renewing of our thoughts to the Outer Experience: “…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‚Ķ”

Perhaps The World is most aptly translated to mean: the thoughts and practices and ways of those who live their life locked in their own personal framework of Ego; going through the motions of life without really seeing.

May we continually renew our Minds, to let go of our lives and our narrow perceptions daily, to see All as it truly is and embrace genuine Love and Harmony, as Jesus did.

In Harmony and Silence

What is love?
Love is the driving force of the universe; God is Love, Love is God.
But what is It, this force that binds the particles into matter around us, making up our very substance?

It is Harmony, and not chaos.
The Universe is in constant flux, moving and changing and adjusting and adapting…
An “additive principle” is what is at work, building abstract block upon abstract block, creating and tearing down to make way for the next evolution.

Therefore, we may say, Love is Harmony.

Love flows, Love bends, Love adapts. Love is Harmony.
To struggle against, or to cling, is not Harmony. It is not Love.

Un-love is a fighting against the very primeval forces of creation, the forces of our own inner being.
And, as boisterous and proud as it is, it is ultimately useless; one cannot struggle against the nature of our own self and accomplish a single thing.

What of willful change? What of inspiration? What of the pursuit of answers to the hurdles that plague our journeys?

The answers are already around us and within us. Love — Harmony — permeates the fabric of our existence.

But through struggle and chaos, we blind ourselves to All that already Is. Through narrowly seeking that which we think we must struggle to have or produce, we close our eyes to all that is presently around us and ignore all possibilities that do not line up with our narrow criteria.

The answer to all, then, is Silence. To sit and silence the mind, and its perpetual whirlwind of thought, to sit in utter stillness and simply take in, without prejudice, All That Is.

In Stillness, in Love, in Harmony, and these within ourselves, we find God, we find Inspiration and Hope. It is not to be sought in some far-off place. It is always within us; we need only look.

How Easy…

How easy it is for us to slip into our emotional skin and become utterly entrenched in the passions of our current opinions and viewpoints, angered with those who disagree with us. A Culture War may be more dangerous than any other in the way it consumes the inside of its very host.

May we call to mind Big Brother Mountain and Father Sky, who simply look on from beyond, observing, unattached, the goings-on below. If we can slip into the mentality of the Observer we can see more clearly the reality of the things around us and will be capable of extending the respect to others that All deserve.

Let us wake from our virtual reality and ceaseless running today.

Emotional Attachment

Why must there be so much hatred? Why do we run so quickly to judgement fueled by emotion, rather than objective understanding, leading to peace and harmony? It makes me very sad when I encounter it and cannot break through….

Memorial "the Holodomor" 1932-1933 (death by hunger) in Kyiv, UkraineAlas, these too, are all Attachment and Aversion… They float in and out like clouds across the Spaciousness Within. We need not claim any as our own… Still, as a regular human being, how I¬†wish I could talk sense into others around me regarding these truths!!

To straighten the crooked you must first do a harder thing — straighten yourself.

The Dhammapada of Guatama.

 

When they kept on questioning him [Jesus], he straightened up and said to them, ‚ÄúLet any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.‚ÄĚ

John 8:7

 

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Jesus, Matthew 7:1-5

 

How easy it is to immediately say: Well! In this particular instance I¬†know¬†what I am talking about; therefore I will close my ears to you and what you have to say and tell you what’s what!

But the wise men of ages past knew and have told us what it is to be wise — to judge not, to embrace The Shadow in all of us, and realize we are all exactly the same; we are connected to each other. We are all of The One. It is not our place to judge the actions of another, especially not solely based on our initial emotional reactions to it! But we must seek to understand, and above all, Love. And Perfect Love is not judgmental or conditional, it simply Is… Mother Earth, indeed the cosmos around us, from which we ultimately came, exhibits a perfect love for us in that the Universe does not judge us for our constant pettiness and smallness and arrogance; the sun still circles around us, the earth still rotates, It does not speak, It does not complain…

Unconditional love feels like nothing… emotions, feelings, judgements — these are all¬†conditions. (Visit this page for more on the Witness State¬†of Unconditional Love.)

Indeed – if we rather turned our attention inward and only sought to straighten ourselves and not others, what a marvelously beautiful world this could become! To attain a state of simply Being, and allowing others that same respect, is a path toward Peace.

Ultimately, however sorrowful I may feel from time to time, it is all up to me and the straightening of myself within, and not the pressure or conditions I feel like placing on others.

May¬†Namaste¬† — I, the Divine in me, bow to the Divine Spark within you — be the sincere word among us all, to tie us together.

namaste

 

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.