Tree City Witch: Virgo Season & Postcards To The Dead

There are dead people I’d like to see again, and you may wonder why I think Virgo Season can help me with this, but I am here to tell you that Virgo Season can help me, and you, with this.

The Sun is now in the sign of Virgo. Mercury is also in Virgo, but retrograde. During Mercury retrograde we are supposed to RE: review, redo, revisit, relive, renew.

I know what you’re thinking. Wait for Samhain. Wait for Halloween. Wait, for God’s sake, for October! Scorpio Season, THE Season of the Dead. The veils thin, the walls crumble, the distance between us and them dissolves.

"The Drowned Man's Ghost . . ." by Thorvald Niss.  From WikiMedia.
“The Drowned Man’s Ghost . . .” by Thorvald Niss. From WikiMedia.

I say no. I say Virgo is THE season — not for raising the dead, but for finding them. Find them where they gather and fidget. Find them where they make their plans for the immediate future and lists of things to do. Yes there are tables and chairs in “heaven” and I’m using that word “heaven” because the dead are in a PLACE and Summerland isn’t quite right either. For many things in this life there are no words.

And this: Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury. Mercury rules communication and words. This is what to do for Virgo Season. Talk to your dead. Listen to them.

LITTLE VIRGOS

There is this tree outside my window. I don’t know what the hell it is. I don’t know trees. But it’s outside my window with little purple berries and they are so small. They remind me of Virgo.

What is Virgo? Virgo is also small. Virgo is a miniature painting. Virgo is one note of music, not the whole song. Virgo is associated with small animals, with grammar, with your daily routines and habits. Daily life. The little things. Tea.

Virgo isn’t big like Leo is big. Leo is fire and associated with pride and courage and drama. Big emotions! Grand gestures! Tiaras!

The sign right before Leo is Cancer, also big emotions because Cancer rules mothers and motherhood and food and memory and being vulnerable and who doesn’t have feelings about all that?

Cancer cries. Leo laughs. And Virgo? Virgo is the still small voice. Virgo is the librarian whispering in your ear. Virgo is practice and practical and longs for perfection, purity.

Virgo is the saint and Virgo works tirelessly until the job is done and then some. Long after everyone else has gone home, you can find Virgo toiling after hours or in the early morning and these are small jobs. Sewing buttons on a shoe. Dipping pen into ink and onto the parchment paper of a holy book. Virgo is the scribe.

MY ADVICE

So I recommend you go small with this. Write your dead a letter. Write your dead many letters in small handwriting. Write your dead letters from leaves and berries. One leaf. One berry. A postcard. A post-it. You can write them every day if you want. It wouldn’t be Virgo of you to engage in some dramatic ceremonial magickal gesture or ritual. Let your altar be neat and unfussy. Put the good silver in the cupboard. It needs polishing anyway. Instead, write. Instead, speak. Instead, invite them for tea and a cookie. You’ll be surprised how effective this is (and Virgo loves to be effective!).

I TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE

This afternoon I was on the phone with a client with a mega Leo chart. I’ve never seen a chart with this much Leo before, including Sun and Moon and Mercury and Rising Sign. She asked me if I talked to dead people.

I paused because I have Virgo Rising, Vesta in Virgo, South Node in Virgo and Moon conjunct Pluto in Virgo and I’m precise. Do I? Do I actually “talk” to dead people? Hmm.

No one had ever asked me that question point blank before and I wasn’t sure what to say. I mean, I talk to the dead ALL THE TIME. Both my parents died a long time ago. Of course I talk to them. And to my two beloved cats that I still miss. It’s such a normal thing for me, part of my Virgoan daily life, that it’s hard to separate so I paused and thought and tried to analyze as Virgos tend to do.

Talking to the dead is my favorite thing of all when it comes to doing readings although I’ve never pursued it on purpose. It would just happen. Everyone, almost everyone, has lost someone. And some more than most. It’s the most extraordinary feeling of warmth when the dead show up and information starts to flow: how they were, how they are.

I remember talking to someone two years ago who had lost her child to suicide and I saw him dancing around her so joyously. Karaoke of the spirit.

"The Ghost of Clytemnestra Awakening the Furies" by John Downman.  From WikiMedia.
“The Ghost of Clytemnestra Awakening the Furies” by John Downman. From WikiMedia.

NEW MOON IN VIRGO

The New Moon in Virgo isn’t until late September and the Full Moon in Pisces a couple weeks before that. I recommend you keep track of the Virgo Season lunations so you can schedule your magick.

New Moons and Full Moons are potent in different ways but both are excellent conduits. Imagine a curtain being parted. New Moon for beginning. Full Moon for ending. Are you afraid they won’t want to talk to you? They will. Are you afraid they’re in pain? They’re not. That warmth I feel? It’s bliss.

I remember when I was missing my kitty Cleo so badly in the first few months after her passing. I literally stood at that veil, curtain, wall, trying to punch my way through, break it down. Anything to feel her more. Reach through it and pull her towards me. Bring her back. I stood right there, right against it. Made my demands.

A wise woman gave me some good advice at the time, some very Virgo advice, to make myself smaller, less intense, less aggressive in my pursuit through the underworld and then I would feel Cleo more. Not that Cleo wasn’t around either way but my own desperation needed to give way to certainty. She was right there all along. Our loved ones never leave us.

Happy Virgo Season, my friends.

_________

Do you feel blocked creatively? No time, energy, desire? Have you thought about making your own Tarot deck? Are you curious about the Tarot? Do you want to get in touch with your creativity? Get it churning again? I can help! I’m collaborating with the Sequential Artists Workshop to bring you Every Picture Tells A Story, six weeks of guided creative assignments and Tarot Talk with yours truly! There will be weekly videos and drawing/writing exercises, a private Facebook discussion group, and reading material for reflection. Click on the link for more information or just email me at moonpluto@gmail.com.

The Other Side of the Hedge: True Discipline

Luck aside, discipline is often what sets the successful project apart from the unsuccessful. This is common knowledge, and every book teaching us the “ten tricks of bastards who made it big,” every meme telling us to “try, try again,” and every list for success has to weigh in on discipline.

But when it comes to having discipline, it seems like there’s a moving target. Discipline means different things to different people. Like many other aspects of the self, it fits into the kind of category best defined through “I know it when I see it.”

True discipline comes from neither rule nor iron rod. It is not something we learn, but something that we must grow within ourselves. True discipline is the counterpart to the true will. It is a necessary, and often neglected part of the deeper mysteries of magic and the Great Work.

Monkey Cage ©2010 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]
Monkey Cage ©2010 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]

Discipline, as an idea and category of behavior, is complicated. While some aspects are visible in the everyday world, other aspects that exists in invisible — and sometimes indescribable — places. In order to make some sense of this, we need to take this meta-category called “discipline” apart.

ProTip: If you’ve read this far, you probably have some interest in growing your self-discipline. From here on out, try taking it section by section. If anything doesn’t make sense, post a question in the comment below, and I’ll see if I can straighten it out.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “you have to spend money to make money.” I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m certain that it takes discipline to grow your discipline. But take heart, we all have enough discipline to move forward. We’ve all already learned a thousand things more complicated and harder to do: things like walking, or reading, or driving a car.

Understanding Discipline Where It Lives

In the first analysis, we’ll consider the idea of discipline based on the three basic Western aspects of the self: body, mind, and spirit. In this way, we can say that there are three kinds of discipline, and call them the discipline of the body or “self-control,” discipline of the mind or “focus,” and discipline of the spirit or “groundedness.”

The body’s discipline is something that we start developing long before we truly learn to think. Self-control starts with simple things like eating, walking, and evacuating. But these are simple tasks compared to the much more difficult ones we learn later.

We develop a disciplined mind through, among other things, schooling. As we strengthen and sharpen our focus, we grow in our ability to shrug off distractions and enticements. But discipline is more than strong mental walls to beat back such unwanted things. It is also the way we develop channels in our mind that are ever more easily followed.

We spend most of our lives already aware that we have minds and bodies. From a very early age, as part of Western culture, we develop some level of discipline with them. But then there’s a third kind of discipline, the spiritual kind. This isn’t something that we can have until we have become aware of our own spirits. And for a lot of people, even getting to that point takes training.

Seungmu (monk dance) ©2009 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]
Seungmu (monk dance) ©2009 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]

Developing spiritual discipline takes time and effort. Whether people might be born with it or be raised with it, it is something that each of us can develop. And it is definitely something worth cultivating.

Understanding Discipline Where It Grows

Now that we’ve looked at one way to understand discipline, let’s step back and slice it up a different way. The first way we looked at discipline was to understand what part of the self it was associated with. A second way to analyze discipline is to trace it back to where it comes from.

In other words, we ask if this particular aspect of discipline comes from outside of us, comes from within us, or is it something else? Because one of the secrets here is that there is a discipline from a place that transcends the two!

These three types of discipline have different implications, meanings, and uses. We can think of them as external, internal, and true discipline.

External discipline is what most people think of when they think of discipline. It’s the kind that’s imposed from the outside, like school discipline, military discipline, or just the discipline that we pay for when we hire a trainer.

When we do things because that’s what the group does, that’s external discipline. And external discipline can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

When it comes to exercise, I’m all about the external discipline; if I want to get in shape, the only way for me to go is a martial arts class. Convincing myself to get to the gym is impossible. But knowing that there is a teacher who will be leading and guiding me through? That’s easy for me. It’s not a matter of good and bad. It is a matter of preference and effectiveness.

Internal discipline is the promises we make to ourselves. When you were in school, were you the kind of student who could simply go do your homework? As a kid, I certainly was not. I lacked any semblance of internal discipline. It was something that I had to grow with age and experience.

Then there is true discipline. That’s the discipline that comes when we transcend the inside and outside, and simply do what we must do and become who we truly are.

When I was a kid I had a terrible time studying, but now that I am a solid middle-age I can sit down with a dry academic book for hours on end if I know that’s the path that needs to be taken. And when I was younger I needed to be led to train, but now I have learned and can make myself practice as needed.

As we delve into training, we transcend internal and external discipline. What once were timid first steps we had to be led on eventually become our own path. Just as we eventually learn that “inside” and “outside” collapse, our discipline follows the same path.

ProTip: Discipline is something so complicated that mostly we just learn it by imitating people we admire. We lean discipline simply by acting like disciplined people. As we do that over and over, we dig that pathway deeper and deeper into our mind. As with anything else, it’s the repetitions that make us stronger.

Imitation is as good a way to learn as any, but if you’re like me and want to understand what you’re doing, hopefully the analysis above will help make some sense. Even if we just know that there are spiritual, mental, and physical aspects to this art, it helps us face the challenges that come when we begin to expand our strength, power, and sense of self.

Monk Shoes ©2009 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]
Monk Shoes ©2009 by Polly Peterson [used with permission]

Putting Discipline into Action

Discipline isn’t simply doing what you’re told, or even doing what you tell yourself. It isn’t about being biddable. Instead, it’s about taking a path, and then not straying from it. In other words, it’s not insensitivity to the world, not numbness. One of the biggest aspects of disciple is follow-through, the ability to select a goal, and to then move toward that goal.

But discipline isn’t something that you just wake up one day and choose to have. Discipline is not a mental game. Discipline is a matter of character – that is to say, it is a state of the soul. If “grace” is to be in alignment with the gods outside of us, then true discipline is to live in alignment with the goals of your own sacred being.

That’s why we can’t just wake up one day and decide to be disciplined. That is why it requires training. Because it is not a state of mind – the everyday mind that is disciplined is a reflection of a deeper discipline. Some people are born with it, some people learn it at their mother’s knee, and for some people it always seems a million miles away.

No matter where we start, our deep discipline is something that we can improve. And it’s something that, as we improve, will infuse everything we do with deeper meaning and power.

True discipline isn’t merely about following rules, internal or external. True discipline is an expression of the sacred. If the true will is your sacred guide, then true discipline is your sacred ability to listen.

Tree City Witch: Solar Eclipse, Libra Love, & The Magick of Desire

I drew cards for a Libra who was asking about love. The Libras always ask about love. Not that I judge. I do not judge. I’ve been doing this a long time. Everybody asks about love, especially the Libras, and she said to me: “I should do some magic!”

“Yes,” I said.
“Yes,” she said.
“I light candles,” she said.
“That’s great,” I said. “But it’s more than that.”

See, I’m one of THOSE witches. I’m one of those witches who believes most strongly in the intention behind a spell or ritual. I realize that puts me in a particular category. I do not think such and such candle or such and such oil is enough. Those things are extra. The things are not enough. We have to be WITH the things, inside the things, transmute the things. BE THE THINGS. I say this knowing full well that THE THINGS carry vibration and it matters.

The sign of Libra from "The Book of Birth of Iskandar" via the Welcome Trust & WikiMedia.  CC License 4.0
The sign of Libra from “The Book of Birth of Iskandar” via the Welcome Trust & WikiMedia. CC License 4.0

She told me then about her rose quartz, and I told her about the coming Solar Eclipse which is aha placed so lovingly on her descendent which is something you may want to see in your chart if you are looking for love. The descendent is the cusp of the 7th House of the astrological wheel and the 7th House rules committed partnerships, including those of a love nature, and that’s exactly what she’s looking for. Not a roll in the hay, not a one night stand, not a platonic friend.

Miss Libra Looking For Love, at the very least, wants a chance. A second date. A third date. Hope. She wants hope.

It was only a mini-reading, 15 minutes. Will he want to see me again? Did he like me? What can I do? I tried to give wise counsel. I saw two types of cards. The first set of cards did indeed show that YES he liked her, was attracted, and the second set showed work, busy, business trips, crossing the water.

“He’s harried,” I said.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“Work,” I said.

They’re always like that, these guys she falls for, and we laughed. At least he has a job, right? She lives in a Type A major metropolitan city so of course she runs into these men, entrepreneurs, big business, money makers. They are harried. They are busy. They are also looking for love.

And then she let me have it. The secret she’d been holding in. BUT HE’S A GEMINI AND EVERYONE SAYS THEY ARE AWFUL.

Disclaimer: I like Geminis just fine. I’ve always had Gemini in my life. But somehow this Libra got it in her head that a Gemini man was not a horse worth betting on, and I don’t blame her. There’s lots of bad astrology out there but you know what? Even bad astrology can be good astrology. We can learn from everyone.

Now this Libra is not only a Libra Sun but has important planets in her natal 7th House (the relationship house!), her Moon and Mars, AND she’s an Aquarius Rising. This girl got Air for miles. Gemini is also an Air sign. On paper, it’s a start. Potential. And really that’s all we can ask for until the train starts a-rolling. Hope. Potential.

But back to the magic, the witchery. Miss Libra Looking For Love with her rose quartz and her candles. I’m not going to give you the dirty details. I’m not going to tell you what I told her to do. It’s private. But I will tell you that I believe she cannot go wrong if she follows my instruction: to take those candles and crystals and add to them the most important ingredient of all: her desire.

Solar Eclipse in Side Turkey, photo by 	Brocken Inaglory via WikiMedia.  CC License 4.0
Solar Eclipse in Side Turkey, photo by Brocken Inaglory via WikiMedia. CC License 4.0

SOLAR ECLIPSE IN LEO AUGUST 21st

I love it. I absolutely love it. I love this eclipse. I also hate this eclipse. Why do I hate this eclipse? Because I fear change as much as you do, and eclipses change us. They may give us a hint or full on grab us by the arm and pull us into the eye of the storm. Important to remember, and I’ve probably told you this before: Eclipses are never just one day. It’s a period of time. I often call it a landscape. Certain areas of your life (which are situated in the Leo part of your chart) are marked for change. MARKED. It’s fate. You can’t get out of it. Fate. Do you believe in fate? Please start.

I love this eclipse because it’s solar, it’s a new moon, and the sun and moon will be making happy aspects to both Saturn (structure) and Uranus (liberation). Fire, fire, and fire. Leo Sun and Leo Moon, Saturn in Sagittarius, Uranus in Aries. This is about as inspiring and creative and innovative as it gets. This brilliant wild freedom can be yours. If you dare. But you have to be brave. Have to. Otherwise that fire will pass you by.

There’s no ground to this so take notes. Fire is not stable! Write down all your big ideas and all your plans, like stars shooting across the sky, take a picture, a mental note, commit it to memory. The very next day the Sun enters Virgo and you can begin to implement it all, step by step, like practical little witches.

If that sounds like too much, then it’s too much. Instead you can do like my Lady Libra and light your candles and kiss your rose quartz and pray for what you want, wish upon a star, and believe.

_________

Class begins September 5th! Do you feel blocked creatively? No time, energy, desire? Have you thought about making your own Tarot deck? Are you curious about the Tarot? Do you want to get in touch with your creativity? Get it churning again? I can help! I’m collaborating with the Sequential Artists Workshop to bring you Every Picture Tells A Story, six weeks of guided creative assignments and Tarot Talk with yours truly! There will be weekly videos and drawing/writing exercises, a private Facebook discussion group, and reading material for reflection. Click on the link for more information or just email me at moonpluto@gmail.com.

The Other Side of the Hedge: Don’t Panic

It often feels like we live in trying times. With instant, constant communication, it’s too easy for us to get wrapped up in things and forget the simple power of common sense. And while that’s true for everyone, it’s a huge problem for practitioners of magic.

Trying to carry too much of the weight of the world is an occupational hazard for spiritual practitioners of all stripes. The very nature spiritual pursuits opens us to taking on the struggles of others.

"Fall of the Titans" by Peter Paul Rubens.  From WikiMedia.
“Fall of the Titans” by Peter Paul Rubens. From WikiMedia.

Whether it’s literal empathy, cultivated compassion, or a simple feeling of responsibility for the world, we tend to try to carry more than our share. But if we follow our practices diligently, they can give us the ballast we need to face the world without panicking.

When we speak of self-cultivation, those practices don’t have to be esoteric or spectacular. What matters is if they are effective, and we can learn a lot from the common wisdom of what “everybody knows.”

Purity, Power, and the Long Hot Shower

Back in the 90s , I used to watch a now long-forgotten superhero-cop television show called The Sentinel. As far as the genre goes, I rather enjoyed it. But what I remember most wasn’t the way the main character took down the bad guys.

What stuck with me was a little gem of writing borne in a conversation between Jim, the hero-cop with super senses and his sidekick’s over-the-top 90s TV New-Age mother.

“What do you do to keep yourself clean?” she asks, earnestly.

Trying to avoid an awkward moment, the worldly Jim responds, “I take a shower.”

“No,” she repeats with clear passive-aggressive frustration, “what do you do to keep yourself clean?”

And he firmly repeats himself, “I take a shower.”

Yes, it’s a too-cute scene from a TV show. But it has a good point. Sometimes it’s too easy to get wrapped up in the esoteric side of things and forget the overwhelming power of common sense and common knowledge.

While we might justify our daily showers with a scientific “it washes the germs away!” we can just as easily understand this practice in the context of Shinto’s misogi, the daily ritual of cleansing under a waterfall.

Image by Darren Stone via WikiMedia.  GNU Documentation License.
Image by Darren Stone via WikiMedia. GNU Documentation License.

Daily cleansing is daily cleansing, and our showers wash away a lot more than oil, dirt, and the occasional germ. Our spiritual practices don’t always have to be an extra dimension of our lives. They just need to be an extra dimension of our understanding.

The New Age and Pagan movements sold us on the idea that we modern Westerners don’t have esoteric practices. The pitch was that you needed to learn meditation from abroad, steal shamanism from the locals, and buy it all for the low, low price of whatever you had on you.

We were taught that a great time of change was coming, and we needed to be ready. The New Age said to look to the future, and the Pagans said to look to the past. But either way, the change that came wasn’t the one that was promised.

The Real New Age

We live in a time when the mundane world is unimaginably powerful and overwhelming. Just to keep our heads on straight, we have to believe seven impossible things before breakfast. Everyone is selling ways to improve our lives if we would just do them for “five minutes a day.”

People get caught up in the new rat race, and it can be hard to step back and have any perspective whatsoever. We imagine that it could be better, but for primates, we’re doing pretty well.

"Origami" by Polly Peterson.  Used with permission.
“Origami” by Polly Peterson. Used with permission.

At least here in America, most of the people get fed most of the time, violence is limited (though certainly not evenly distributed through the population), people commonly have housing, and most everyone has access to heretofore unimaginable education, technology, medicine, and information.

It’s easy to take these things for granted. But honestly, even when things are bad, they’re pretty good. Our wars are far away, our political class is (thankfully) limited in how much it can get away with, and many of our problems actually focus around the unintended consequences of new and awesome technologies.

We struggle because our new technologies aren’t well integrated into our culture. Access to opportunity, life-saving medicine, and even healthy food is contentious. Resources are poorly distributed. The proponents of old power dynamics struggle with the bringers of new ones, and there’s a massive artificial scarcity that is more philosophical than necessary.

We thought that all this progress would make people better. This new age looks a lot like all the previous times, only in a science fiction setting. Maybe we don’t live in spaceships, but we do carry unfathomably powerful, globally connected computers in our pockets.

Maybe we don’t live forever, but we also don’t live with the same uncertainly of previous generations. We travel the globe without a second thought, translate languages on the fly, work, and even date from the comfort of our homes.

The Role of the Magus

Sometimes I hear people complain that there are no new frontiers to explore. If we step back, however, the exact opposite is true. The wild frontier isn’t some far off place. The unknown is here and now and all around us.

Because of rapid technological and social change, nothing really seems to mean what we think it means. We can see this in politics, where everything is spin and nothing is actually taken for granted. We see this in education, where suddenly a college degree isn’t a ticket to the middle class; instead it is “necessary but insufficient.”

We see this loss of meaning in our everyday lives, and nowhere more clearly than social media. Constantly, people try to panic everyone around them with terrified cries and grandiose claims. Everything is rhetoric, but no one trains in the subject in order to inoculate themselves from the constant barrage.

If only there were a group of people interested in the wisdom of ancient texts and lost ways of knowing. Oh, wait! That’s us.

No matter whether we title ourselves witches, a mages, shamans, or just plain old curmudgeons, the social role we play is similar. We watch as, grasping at power, pundits and politicians make wild claims. We observe silently as they say things to bend our minds and tear at our hearts. As people around us panic, we persevere.

The unwise always have their ears bent by the clever. Followers get ungrounded by the people panicking around them. The everyday person is ruled by the mob mind and by groupthink and by people gaming social codes.

Our role is only this: to dig deeper. Not just to know the truths from the lies, but to recognize that both truths and lies are only words, shadows, descriptions of a world far deeper than language.

The Cartomancer: Negotiate, Compromise, or Say NO?

Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

I say no. This is my magical weapon for many wars. Not that I go to war all the time, but I like the idea of following whatever I have come to realize about my nature, rather than following dictations.

Lately I’ve been having marketing conversations.

Since I’ve left the academy for the less prestigious job of working for myself, I’ve been confronted with many fears. Not mine, to be sure, as I have none such, but others’.

‘You must do this, or that, figure out who your customers are, what you want, what they want, what you’re good at, etc…’

All fine up to the point when I’m strongly advised to address people directly, call them by their names, address their individual needs, imagine what they want, and bow to the illusion of ‘it’s all about them’.

Well, you see, I don’t fall for automated marketing emails that address me by my name, that assume to know what I want, what I struggle with, what my needs are, and what I imagine about embodying a particular desired identity, if any at all.

Just as I don’t get impressed by such tactics I can’t imagine anyone I address in my own email campaigns does. So I don’t. I don’t assume.

In other words, I find myself following absolutely none of the strategies that market gurus out there devise in the name of surviving in business.

I pretty much say no to all of it. I say no to the idea of catering to imaginary clients and potential clients. A potential client is exactly that, potential. And I don’t waste time with ‘potential’.

My own so-called surviving strategy has been very simple: ‘Those who are like me will find me.’ I don’t put any effort into imagining who, out there, might be my potential client.

I do what I do and fling it to the public to the best of my ability and investments that I want to bother with where the channels of distribution are concerned. If people want it, excellent, if they don’t want it, excellent. There’s no difference in my attitude towards what I expect. Because I expect exactly nothing.

What I put energy into is what I create and how well. No one can be a better judge than myself of what I create, how well, and where it all comes from.

This premise alone means that I entertain no illusion about how many or who exactly I ‘reach’, simply because I’m always alone in what I do and what I think.

I don’t fall for the illusion of ‘community’, as, funny enough, when it comes down to it, it turns out that, in spite of contrary claims, the community minds its own business at individual level and separate level. Last I’ve checked communities are not exactly Zen.

I value this aloneness a great deal, as it affords me the space that’s completely devoid of making assumptions, presumptions, and second-guessing.

This also means that nothing of what I create and put out there into the world is ever up to negotiation.

I just do my thing, and entertain zero concerns about potential responses, whether positive or negative.

You may call this a conscious act of embodying the attitude of ‘take it or leave it’.

Why does this work for me?

Simply because of the realization that if there’s feedback, or response to what I create, then that particular feedback or response will also very much be the manifestation of someone else’s aloneness – even when it happens that it’s the expression of some consensus opinion.

If a hundred people read my stuff, watch my videos, buy my courses or services, I have one hundred percent confidence that, at the end of the day, what I sit with is a hundred opinions, impressions, critiques, or praises. Whoa… so much for reaching The One.

The way in which we perceive the world is not through an assessment of the world such as it is, but rather through a realization that what we perceive at any given time is our own perception of perception.

We don’t perceive the world. We perceive our perception of the world. So we’re always one level lower than ‘the thing itself’.

Given this realization, it makes very little sense for me to create anything in the name of what I perceive is even my own desire.

I don’t have any desire. I just do what I perceive I’m good at, which is to give sharp advice, say no, not transact for illusions, or expect miracles.

The only miracle that excites me is the nothingness of it all; the fact that nothing has any substance.

Given this premise, I like to move mountains, speak to their silent wisdom, and pulverize the shit out of expectation.

I practice entering the void because that is my vehicle to the absolute beyond. In this state of mind, there’s no mind, there’s no compromise, there’s no ‘be careful not to offend,’ there’s no illusion.

Things are as they are. Take it or leave it.

What are your questions?

If you’re struggling with your business, what questions do you ask of yourself in your strategy of going about it?

Are your questions client related?

  • Who are your people?
  • What do they want?

Are your questions product related?

  • What are you selling?
  • What is the value of what you’re selling?

Are your questions problem related?

  • What problems do you imagine you’re solving?
  • Is your effort informed by any ‘savior’ syndrome that you also imagine is aligned with what you promise?

Are your questions distribution related?

  • How is your image and that of your product in the world, on social media, or some other such channels?
  • What narrative does your product tell, what story do you invest in?

Lastly, are your questions ‘self’ related, or ‘other’ related?

  • Do you ask yourself about the illusions you maintain?
  • How prone are you to falling for slogans such as: ‘it’s all about them’, ‘the customer is always right’, ‘know everything about your customer’, ‘be ruthless’?
  • What is your vehicle to the realization of truth, which is another way of asking, what is your vehicle to seeing things as they are?

Sometimes I run a check with myself and read a set of three cards for each of these questions, or some other similar ones.

Though I have to admit that since my philosophy is simple and rather one-sided, as I don’t negotiate, what I check is just strength:

  • I check the strength of my attitude of ‘take it or leave it,’ as I don’t want it to be the manifestation of indifference or even resentment.
  • I check the strength of my acceptance of what is, whether this is feedback that translates into monetary value and appreciation, or critique.
  • I check the strength of my fearlessness and what informs my discernment. If I’m cautious, what is this a manifestation of? Fear, or wisdom?

Nine cards for your strategy

Doing a 9-card reading for these considerations can be rewarding, as you get to see the dynamics of morphing: Your attitude and perception morphing with the state of things such as they are, not such as they are part of whatever narrative you serve yourself.

Here’s an example of a question that combines interrelated statements: one about your skills, another about your attitude towards what you do with those skills, and a third about your concern with how what you do is received by the public – assuming you’re not Zen already, in which case, the latter will not be part of your overall aim of serving.

‘What is the best marketing strategy for me beyond mainstream marketing dictations?

What is my vehicle towards embodying a completely fearless attitude towards what I’m creating, for what purpose and for whom?

Again, if you’re pretty Zen, then you will also know that ‘purpose’ and ‘direction’ are just concepts devoid of any substance whatsoever, so your strategy will take that attitude into account.

Let’s do a quick reading of Ryan Edward’s Marseille Playing cards.

Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

A fun draw.

The Queen of Spades is in immediate conversation with the Magician. Their encounter is backed by the 10 Hearts. These two are definitely in agreement. They entertain no illusions whatsoever, though the Magician makes a living selling it.

Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

There’s money to be made, and there’s drive in it, but not so much towards it. The Knight of Spades charges towards truth and fairness, towards Justice, which is something that a Zen-inclined person such as myself can only approve of.

Here I like the suggestion that if you know the exact value of what you’re offering, and you’re fair about it, then the only natural thing that you can expect to happen is flow. Your business simply flows if you abide in truth, and stand your ground unsentimentally. Your cash flows.

Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The Queen of Diamonds has the necessary experience. We see this from her position, turned not towards the one making an offering, but rather turned towards the void.

If you have experience, you don’t need to worry about what happens when work power is exchanged for pleasure. You will work because you love it. The last conversation here is between the Knight of Batons and the Queen of Hearts.

Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Playing Cards by Ryan Edward, 2017 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

I can’t help but laugh a little at the middle column: The Magician knows how to move mountains, how to make the horsemen act in accordance with his will, or magical power.

Running a business is knowing the power of magic, knowing the power of fairness, the power of the hard rocks, diamonds and coins forged in fire, and the power of love.

If you don’t love what you do, you can’t lose yourself to your true nature.

That’s the best marketing strategy: To do what you love and to abide in justice.

Abiding in truth is not about emotional narratives, melodrama and vulnerable stories that sell, ‘big me’ or ‘small me’. It is about flow, the flow of nothingness from where moving mountains is not even a big deal but something that you do, any time, as a matter of course, effortlessly and completely fearlessly.

As for nuance, you can ask yourself this: ‘A spade for a heart; a heart for a diamond… What is the difference?’

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities.

For similar ideas, listen to the recent podcast for Rune Soup , read the interview with me for Little Fox Tarot, or visit my YouTube channel.

The Hearth of Hellenism: Polytheism and the Protection of Progress

Polytheism and the Protection of Progress: Reflections of a Hellene

In this post, I want to discuss how I view Hellenism in the “larger picture” scheme of things. I want to go beyond worship, religion and the gods for a moment in this post. I want to share with you my thoughts as a Hellenist when I reflect on the nature of events happening politically/societally in the United States. But before we get to politics we need to go get some perspective first.

Being a Pagan in an Abrahamic world is difficult. Abrahamism, when placed into context of the last two thousand years, has been pretty detrimental to humankind. It has shaped the mind and soul of humankind for so long, we have a lot of work to do to reform humanity, and heal the wounds of our souls and our planet. A lot can be said on the subject of what has been done, I do not want to go into great depth in this post on the subject but I will outline some general contrasts between the two world-views of monotheism and polytheism as I see it.

"Pallas Athene Visiting Apollo on the Parnassus" by Arnold Houbraken (detail).  From WikiMedia.
“Pallas Athene Visiting Apollo on the Parnassus” by Arnold Houbraken (detail). From WikiMedia.

The one thing that stands out to me when looking at Monotheism/Abrahamism is the development of an Absolute Truth. The monotheistic god is the only one true god and his word is Absolute. This concept ruined one culture after another, first with the Hellenistic culture and any other indigenous/ethnic culture it has come into contact with. Over the centuries Abrahamism has sought to destroy the carious indigenous spiritual traditions of the world, replacing those with their own.

In the polytheistic worldview, truth seemed more relative, or at least divinity and religious practices were relative. Wars were fought over land, gold, and glory but not over Gods. No one thought they should war with another tribe of people in a belief that their other parties’ god was false, and those people were immoral because of their false god.

In its time, Hellenism was a source of light for the world, it embraced the human being fully, saw in the human form total beauty. Greeks were able to replicate the human form in stone, creating some of the most life like images ever created. The world was full of gods, it was a world meant to be understood and investigated. Reason, philosophy, science, and technology are just some things which Hellenism supported.

The culture of the Greeks created what we now call the Antikythera Mechanism, an example of the highest mankind can reach with his mind. It was a highly complex computer/astronomical clock that tracked the movement of the planets. The culture of the Greeks created men and women who discovered the circumference of the Earth (with only 10% error), the Heliocentric model, and a spherical Earth.

Education was important to the Greeks and with the rise of Christian education, investigation of the natural world would eventually nearly disappear which lead the West into a dark age (the east did alright for itself). Christians did not value natural philosophy, science, because this world was not as important as the afterlife. Securing your place in God’s Kingdom was more important than knowing the inner workings of nature.

As someone who loves history, I try to see how history repeats itself. Today in the United States public education is in danger, with the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. These efforts are fueled for monetary reasons more so than anything religious, however even the monetary motivations are symptomatic of a religious ideology, where again, education is devalued. Christianity in my view, was the main contributing factor that sealed the end of the Roman Empire. As with Rome, the United States will be doomed if Christianity is able to gain too much control over our policy making and legislation.

"The Death of Socrates, "by Jacques-Louis David.  From WikiMedia.
“The Death of Socrates, “by Jacques-Louis David. From WikiMedia.

After education, the second thing I notice in society is the rise of authoritarianism in America. Which I think is also symptomatic of the Abrahamic religious ideology. A singular God, the only Authority and source of Truth will eventually manifest in these fundamental believers by electing officials to office whom they want to serve obediently. What we are experiencing currently with blind faith in Trump is a form of Divine Kingship. It is pious to be obedient to authority whom is seen as ruling by the grace of God. Trump is a “good Christian” and should be listened to, he will be our “savior”. Religious ideology is to partly blame for the election of Trump, a topic that deserves its own post.

In Hellenism there is a prescription for centuries of monotheistic setbacks. Because Hellenism is pro-science, pro-reason, and pro-education. Abrahamism has historically been anti-science. You can see the effect of the Abrahamic mindset anytime you hear someone say “You/we shouldn’t be playing God” as a reaction to a new breakthrough in science. Such a view would not exist in a pagan world, because pushing our limits as humans, is the goal. We are not “playing God”, instead we are fully reaching our potentials with our divinely given reason.

Coming to the end of this reflection, what do I think we should all do? All pagans, I think should fight to protect humankind’s ability to progress. I often see some pagans get turned off by politics, preferring to “stay spiritual” and avoid such conversations. However, I disagree, pagans need to be political. The Religious Right wants to force their regressive worldview onto our whole nation, halting progress. We cannot let that happen.

The Other Side of the Hedge: The Magic Is in You

The magic is in you — this isn’t some bumper-sticker with a few empty words to help you feel more powerful. Magic is not psychology and it’s not here to make you feel better. Deep magic is not — not once and not ever — the easy path. Magic is about breaking the chains of the world-as-we-were-taught, so that we can explore the world-as-it-is.

Magic (mostly) isn’t about waving a wand to make the world over; that’s an empty promise. Magic isn’t a secret word that effortlessly bends the world under our will. It’s much more, and much less, than that.

Here in the West, we measure our accomplishments by fulfilling our desires. We imagine that magic will shield us from a dangerous world and bring us everything we want. We imagine magic as a servant, a genie here to grant us wishes.

"The Abyss" photo by  Polly Peterson.
“The Abyss” photo by Polly Peterson, used with permission

The magic is in you. Yet it’s not a promise of ultimate power, special status, or fantasy fulfillment. The magic is in us all, somewhere. This source of vitality, of self, of rooted reality, has been lost. Your first quest is to find it.

Awaken the Spirit

There are four tasks on this quest. The first is to awaken your spirit. Without that, you’re just an empty sail.

In everyday language, when we talk about the human spirit, we treat it like something special and unique and maybe a little impossible. In a larger sense, it functionally has more in common with the skin than the soul. The human spirit senses things for us. It also provides some protection and can be used for communication. But in Western culture, most people don’t use it much at all.

The way Westerners have been raised, we’ve been taught to ignore the spirit. Without care, it gets ratty and dirty. Without regular exercise (spiritual and physical), it weakens and deflates to the point of uselessness.

In the West, we’re not taught proper care for our own spirits. We revere them, and yet we take them for granted. We say that this person’s spirit is weak, or that one’s is strong. But few people seem to understand that we can exercise our spirits and make them stronger, and cleaner, and more flexible.

Developing your spirit isn’t easy. It’s not impossible, either. If there’s one thing that magical traditions bring to the table, it’s ritual practices that could be described as spirit-calisthenics.

ProTip: In order to awaken your spirit, the first step is to set up a line of communication between your spirit and your everyday mind. There are many paths to doing this, but I’ll mention three. The easiest and most ubiquitous is studying tarot (or any other form of sortilege). Card-reading provides a pathway for your spirit to communicate what it knows to your everyday mind.

Another way to begin communication between your spirit and mind is a dream journal. Recording your nightly dreams isn’t so much about the content as it is about the practice of bringing your dream-awareness closer to your everyday mind.

The third way to open a path of communication between the mind and the spirit is to reverse the practice of the dream journal by bringing your everyday awareness closer to your dreams, instead. The way to do this is the “shamanic journey” as outlined in Michael Harner’s Way of the Shaman (1980). If you can ignore all the theorizing in the book about what “shamanism” is, the basic technique teaches you to connect your spirit-mind and everyday mind.

Find Your Sacred Guide

The second task is to seek out your sacred guide. It might come to you as a god, as a spirit, or as a simple voiceless voice of certainty that rises deep within.

People who practice pagan paths have a lot of different types of mentors. Even more variety can be found along the fringes of it. Spirit-animals, ancestors, and deities are all called upon. For those coming up through Western magic, the quest for knowledge of, and communication with, the Holy Guardian Angel is the stuff of myth and ritual.

While we might debate the spiritual realities of these various mentors, expressing how we experience them and what it means, what binds them together is their function. Functionally, they all are very similar. Each of these mentors guides the spiritual development of the practitioner. They are there to guide us, and us alone, from where we are to where we need to be.

Back in the bad old days of the 90s, I was taught a harsh lesson: spiritual mentors lie. Just because they explain things convincingly, such explanations are not absolute. Such explanations are “for the moment” – a mentor’s goal is not your intellectual understanding, but your spiritual growth.

ProTip: Spirit-mentors (like other mentors) lie and cajole and oversimplify to get you to do what needs to be done. They’ll tell you it’s the end of the world, that only you can save it. They’ll tell you that you’re special, and important, and necessary. They’ll do so because it’s the only way to motivate the average person.

Remember, when a spirit tells you you’re special, it’s proof that you’re not! Spirits don’t offer money. Ideology is a human thing, and they couldn’t care less. They’re not interested in compromise and negotiation. But hell, do spirits ever know how to play an ego when they need someone to act.

Photo by Polly Peterson.   Used with permission.
Photo by Polly Peterson. Used with permission.

Break Free

The third task is to break free of the walls of the self. Before we accomplish this task, everything we see is a mask over something that is. You’ll know that you’re off to a good start when you break the wall, peer out, and have that same feeling you do when you look over a cliff’s edge. That trepidation that freezes your calves and tightens your chest? That’s real progress.

When I talk about breaking free of the walls of the self, I don’t mean shattering the self and losing a hold of who and what you truly are. This is the hardest to explain because there is very little written on this topic. It is a challenge because this way lies madness.

So why would anyone ever take this challenge up? Because we are mages. We are shamans. We are witches. It is only through this journey that we can go beyond knowing there is magic and mystery in the world to becoming that magic and mystery ourselves.

Only by Crossing the Abyss, only by shattering the bubble of spiritual self-reflection with which we transfix ourselves, only by allowing the outside in and the inside out, can we grow. Before that, gods will look like people, and people will look just like us (and will bother us to the extent that they don’t).

Before we cross the abyss, we can know nothing. We can believe things with all our minds and all our hearts. It is only after we have completed this third task that we will truly know anything.

ProTip: The first three steps do not have to be done in that order. Each way of completing the triad comes with different risks. Since we rarely have any control over how we are called anyway, this isn’t about choosing our paths, as much as it is about understanding them.

As a shorthand, we might say that New Agers specialize in awakening the spirit. Pagans specialize in finding sacred mentors. But Crossing the Abyss is another thing. Without preparation, it is impossible to choose to cross. However, there are those who are forced across by life. These people are often thrown into madness. Crossing before you are prepared is a risky business!

The Return

When all three tasks on this quest have been accomplished, you will be something new. With an awakened spirit, sacred guidance, and clear vision, you will become magic itself. Only then will you know how freeing, and how limiting, that truly is.

What the Return looks like is different from one person to the next. For each of us, it is a matter of having built a tenuous connection between the soul and the outside world. Accomplishing this thing will not make you Doctor Strange . All of this work is done to accomplish one thing: to make you truly yourself.

The magic is inside of you. Maybe you can even feel it resonate at these simple words. The quest isn’t to believe it’s there, but to seek it out, to claim it and in turn be claimed by it.

ProTip: The Return is just the beginning. This quest seems unending and impossible, but it’s just the first steps into the world of magic.

In the West, we face a problem of not knowing (mythologically) how deep the rabbit hole goes or how real it is. Completing these four tasks is like getting a black belt, or a Ph.D. – it seems like a distant goal when you begin, but by the time you get there, you’ll know that you have only begun your real journey.

Hearth of Hellenism: When the Gods Make Contact

In my last entry We Don’t Have Relationships with the Gods, or Do We? I questioned the nature of the relationships we have with the Gods. While I argued that the term “relationship” may not be the most appropriate, I made it clear that I believe we have interactions and experience them. In this entry, I want to share with you my experiences with the Gods and how they have contacted me.

It is funny, a Greek God did not contact me first. I am honored to have had Isis, the Egyptian Goddess, reach out to me initially. She appeared to me in a dream. Her appearance came after a workshop I did on Isis devotion and worship, lead by Isian priest James Jacob Pierri (The Auset Gypsy) in Manhattan. This was probably in 2011/12. Since this time James has told me that She (Isis) is initiating me little by little.

Isis.  From WikiMedia.
Isis. From WikiMedia.

Early this year, I stopped into a local Hindu store. I do not know what to call the place, other than it caters to the Hindu community. Inside among the variety of stuff they sell, they have religious items. I came across a mini oil lamp (a genie lamp I called it). I bought it and instagramed what I bought. James told me that it was no accident, I came across the lamp. It was part of the “initiation”, oil lamps were votive offerings that people would leave for Isis. I keep the lamp on my shrine to Isis now.

When it comes to the Greek Gods, they have been slow to reveal themselves to me. However, once it started it was like a snowball effect. The Greek Gods started to “respond” to me after I started attending events with the Hellenic Council of YSEE of America in the spring of 2016. I think I had to prove myself to Them, that I was serious before they would take an interest in me.

The first event I attended was the festival celebration for Artemis and Apollo. That summer I traveled to Greece to see family. I made it a point to do what tourist do and visit some sites. I had never got to visit anything before, I am usually stuck in the village or at the beach. I went to Delphi and Athens.

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi.  Photo Laurvick via WikiMedia.  CC License 3.0
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Photo Laurvick via WikiMedia. CC License 3.0

A few days before visiting Delphi, while tanning at the beach I had a brief glimpse of Apollo in my “mind’s eye” that shook me. When I did visit Delphi, I found a wonder spot off to the side with trees and large stones, the perfect spot to sit and do a tarot reading. There, I asked Apollo for a message and did a reading for myself, the message was on point.

Hecate appeared, or at least I think She sent a dream to me. She was not in the dream like Isis was, but I think the dream was from her. In the dream, there was a snake and a dog in my backyard. The snake was coming up the house and trying to get inside through the window. I shut and locked the window to keep the snake out. I then went outside to bring the dog in. How is this Hecate?

While at first I did not think it was Hecate, I assumed it could have been Pythian Apollo. That day I received in the mail the Pythagorean Tarot with a guide book. While flipping through, I came across the chapter on the High Priestess. In there the author John Opsopaus wrote about the transformative powers of snake and dog which Hecate sends. This made me realize it probably was Hecate who sent me the dream . It could also be something else, but I’ll consider it contact with Hecate. The snake came back again the second night, apparently I am supposed to accept it along with the dog, I have not accepted the snake fully yet. James told me that when I do embrace the snake, it will be very transformative.

"Mercury and Argos" by Abraham Hondius.  From WikiMedia.
“Mercury and Argos” by Abraham Hondius. From WikiMedia.

Zeus also made contact with me. I once had a dream where Zeus appeared. Nine months have passed and no I have not birthed a child. Being a man, if I did that would certainly be a miracle and a big credit to Zeus lol. After the dream, I was flipping through a book at the Tarot School and came to a page that mentioned Zeus. This was a Freemason book, so I was not expecting Zeus to pop up.

While I have not had any contact in a visual way, I feel connected with Hermes. I always say a prayer to Hermes when I am traveling, especially when traveling to Queens or Brooklyn because I always need a good parking spot and Hermes delivers on those requests. When I am not driving, I call upon Hermes for divination work, along with Apollo and Isis.

There seems to be a pattern when it comes to these encounters so far. When I dream of a God, somehow in the waking world I receive confirmation. They appear in a dream and then appear in real life through something physical. In the case of Zeus and Hecate, a random book makes reference to them. With Isis, physical objects associated with her find their way to me. And Hermes, he finds me good parking spots.

How do the Gods make themselves known to you? What stories do you have to share? I would like to hear.

Tree City Witch: Two Eclipses For Leo Season! Are You Ready?

For me, everything, almost everything, comes back to trauma, healing from trauma, although lately I don’t like this word “healing” so much. It feels too final to me, too heroic, as if there’s an end point where struggle and creativity cease to exist. Instead, I think we take breaks. Then we return. Break again. Return. Boats rise. Boats fall.

In August we have these two Eclipses (Eclipse time usually comes twice a year) and these times, yes, may shock and awe you (in the form of particular events or news you receive on or around those days), but as I’ve written before, definitely think of the Eclipses as more than one day, more than two days. Think of them as a period of time that you walk through. Landscape. Desert. Someone just drew the Five of Pentacles for me and instead of snowy street she me walking through the desert. You will walk too, only question is where.

Lunar Eclipse, photo courtesy of the US National Parks Department.
Lunar Eclipse, photo courtesy of the US National Parks Department.

ONE IN LEO, ONE IN AQUARIUS

Here’s another metaphor. When you take a class, there is a usually a curriculum of some kind, no matter how threadbare. It’s the same with the Eclipses. And the core curriculum has much to do with the Houses in your chart, those Houses where the Eclipses will take place. That’s where the lessons are. You need to know your chart for this.

Remember that not all lessons are bad. When I was in school I loved art. I loved English. Those were lessons too. There were assignments. There were books. Please do not fear this learning, dear student. .

So here we have these August Eclipses on the way, one in Aquarius, a Full Moon, and one in Leo, a New Moon, and here is your chance to chase away the ghosts.

Think to yourself: do I want to chase them away?

Some people say to me: YES Aliza I want to chase away the ghosts but then they feed them and knit them sweaters. To make ANY astrological event work for you, you have to be so very honest with yourself. We cannot expect change otherwise. Take an inventory of your life. Take an inventory of your ghosts. This is what to do for Eclipse season.

You are only as stuck as how much responsibility you take at any given time. Now is the time to take responsibility across your Leo and Aquarius houses (in your natal chart). And what I mean by that is presence. Awareness. Honesty.

Questions to ask yourself:

what am I to learn now? What do the Leo and Aquarius Houses of my chart have to teach me at this time in my life? Who was I? Who am I? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? Do I have a structure, a lesson plan to figure this out? Do I have a teacher or guide? What is required of me now?

TRY THIS AT HOME (OR, IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, AT YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP)

I chose five cards because in the Tarot five is the number of change and the Eclipses change our lives. I recommend you do this simple Tarot spread for each eclipse:

Card One: what is the lesson from this eclipse
Card Two: who is the teacher to help me through this eclipse
Card Three: hold onto his
Card Four : release this
Card Five : the way forward

August 7th is the Lunar Eclipse. Full Moon. Aquarius. 15 degrees.

August 21st is the Solar Eclipse. New Moon. Leo. 28 degrees.

And in between these two Eclipses, Mercury goes retrograde.

Yes, my dear, in the middle of rocking and rolling Eclipse Season we have Mercury retrograde. Mercury goes direct Tuesday September 5th. I’ll talk about this transit in a separate blog post, but suffice to say, August will be interesting.

About this trauma clearing, energy clearing. Extraction. Exorcism. Whatever you want to call it. I will make a recommendation.

You won’t need an incantation or formula. Won’t need any special words at all. No tools needed. This isn’t the Magician card. No Pentacle, Wand, Cup, or Sword required. No special location or recipe or guru. The Eclipses themselves will do Part One of the work for you. It’s the lazy astrology lover’s dream. Do nothing. Watch life happen. This may thrill you or terrify you but the additional truth is that your action and/or inaction has led you to this August 2017 moment. Call it karma. Call it fate. Call it Eclipse Season!

Your job is to “simply” to pay attention. Pay attention to what you feel, what you observe, what happens, what doesn’t happen. Pay very VERY close attention across your Leo and Aquarius Houses. I would start paying attention now actually. Sunday’s New Moon in Leo and the surrounding days were chock full of clues!

Partial Solar Eclipse, photo by Tomruen, From WikiMedia.  Public Domain Image.
Partial Solar Eclipse, photo by Tomruen, From WikiMedia. Public Domain Image.

KEEP GOING SAID THE WITCH

Last time I was writing about getting unstuck and how in my current class I was having folks draw cards about their stuckness and what could help. I definitely felt my cards tell a story I needed to hear which is one of the things I love about the Tarot, its absolute relevance to my life in the moment, every moment, that i choose to pick up the deck.

Not only will I do the above Tarot spread for each eclipse, but I will draw an additional two cards for each.

Where am I stuck
How can I become free

What is the path ahead? I asked my witch friend this question and she drew that Five of Pentacles for me, the card that no one wants to see, and then the aha moment came. The path IS the path, Keep going — through the snow, through the desert, keep going.

Are you interested in my on-line Tarot workshop? It’s a six-week course called Every Picture Tells a Story and is a collaboration with the Sequential Artists Workshop, a school for cartoonists and comic artists. The course is for folks who are interested in Tarot deck creation and exploration! We start September 5th. Stay tuned for details or message me!

The Cartomancer: Eating the Ancestors

Verlaine Tarot
Verlaine Tarot, Francesc Grimalt (Photo: Camelia Elias)

It’s been two years since I started writing for Patheos. As I’m not the type who concerns herself with stats, how many views, and all that brouhaha, I don’t think much of ‘what people think’.

My sole aim is to say something that inspires others, particularly to think about how we internalize what we’re told.

This being said, I do see that readers share my writings. You have my heartfelt thanks, for reading and sharing.

To make this anniversary, you’re welcome to let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear about that hasn’t been covered in The Cartomancer column.

For today, I have a dream story and a ‘live’ story in mind, which, as tradition is here with me, I hope will destabilize what you think of identity.

I had a dream last night that was very vivid.

I don’t have a habit of dreaming, as I have a habit of sleeping like a log, but I did develop a practice for lucid dreaming. If I fancy some dream knowledge, I ask for a dream about whatever concerns me. I have my wish granted, and, as is also often the case, I’m always aware of what’s happening, or downright engage in some magical operation.

I once wrote about an example of this that many found hilarious. You’re welcome to check it out, Lucid Dreaming with Scissors.

Back to the dream:

I was leaving for Norway and I wanted my neighbor to sort our mail. As it happens I’m in Norway now, and I have an agreement with the neighbor to sort the mail that’s not packages.

In the dream, while over at the neighbor’s place, my sister who was with me wanted to show her our ancestors. She had brought several family albums. I didn’t mind it, even though it took some time to go though some very tiny miniature pictures, no bigger than a thumbnail, literally.

When we were done, I gathered all the pictures, some 60 of them, and was ready to say goodbye. Not so the neighbor’s son, a young man named Sebastian. He took hold of the pictures and wanted me to go through all that storytelling again.

That was not cool. I had no intention of doing any such thing. He insisted, though, and he wouldn’t let go of the pictures.

I said to him: ‘It’s not for you to decide.’

I forcefully retrieved the pictures and off I went.

Back at home I cooked a whole pot of stew made of fresh chanterelle mushrooms and other veggies. I cooked all the pictures into the sauce, and then ate it all.

The neighbor came for the key and asked me how I was doing, as she saw that her son had upset me.

I said, ‘I’m doing fine. I did what I should have done long time ago. I ate all the ancestors. There will be no future situation of going through past lives again.’

She gave me the incredulous look: ‘Whatever do you mean?’

‘I mean what I said’, I said. ‘I ate them all. Their picture representations. I’m tired of them wasting my time. They had their vital breath. They can’t have mine too.’

Then she said: ‘Did you also eat the bad ancestors, the ones with the evil energy?’

I repeated: ‘I ate them all’.

‘But aren’t you afraid, now, that they’re all inside of you’? She was worried.

I felt sorry for her, as I shared none of her concern.

‘I’m not afraid one tiny bit. The dead can’t do anything. They can do nothing that you won’t let them do.’

This attitude inspired some awe in her, and I woke up with the feeling that I had accomplished something very essential towards not wasting my time.

Beyond identity, ancestral, self-invented, or other

Now, why am I recounting this dream?

Because yesterday I did a reading for a client, who asked me this question:

‘Is there one thing that you think fucks us up beyond any doubt?’

I said, ‘yes, the illusion of identity. The illusion that you can dig into your soul, transform, transcend, become, and all that crap clichés that people waste their time with.’

I know, not very nice of me to say such things, since many love identity. But I’m not here to be bothered by what bothers others.

What I find that was more helpful than to lament the possibility that identity is really nothing but one big fiction we serve ourselves and others in the process, was to pursue this question: ‘What am I’, then, if not this identity?

That’s good question, and if you ask some sages, they’d tell you that’s the only question.

So I laid down three cards, and I just loved what we saw. What we saw was a beautiful validation of the fact that since you’re never what you think you are – as soon as you can put it into words you can be sure you’re NOT THAT since language is as big a fiction as your projections – then you may as well consider the other options.

I used the funky and rare Verlaine Tarot for this one, made by Francesc Grimalt, a movie concept designer who worked on the set of The Lord of the Rings – a special gift from another client.

Verlaine Tarot, Francesc Grimalt (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Verlaine Tarot, Francesc Grimalt (Photo: Camelia Elias)

‘What am I?’ was the question and the cards, the Fool, Justice, and the Hermit said:

You’re the void, reality, and the ultimate witness to this void and reality.

I could hear my master, Nisargadatta, interceding again, almost saying: ‘See, even the cards say so.’

You are WHAT THINKS YOU.

Exactly. It’s that simple.

That settles the shitty problem of having to bother with identity, investing time and energy into it.

How about just doing things, as part of the program that’s called seeing things as they are.

If you dream, you dream, if you tell a story, you tell a story, if you read cards, you read cards.

Where is there any space for ‘identity’ in all of this? There isn’t.

Good luck with yours. I hope you deconstruct the shit out of it, and live happily ever after.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities.

Follow Us!