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.

The Other Side of the Hedge: Why I Am a Warrior

Usually, I loathe inspirational quotes with a passion reserved for the drivers of Priuses doing 60 in the far-left lane during rush hour. Words of wisdom? Piffle. If life were that simple, we’d all have it all figured out.

Still, there are some moments in life that have that kind of clarity. I’d like to share one of mine, so please indulge me.

"Ares Ludovisi" from the National Museum of Rome.  Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen Public Domain Image.
“Ares Ludovisi” from the National Museum of Rome. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen. Public Domain Image.

The morning after I was admitted to the hospital with a brand-new cancer diagnosis, I asked my wife to write something on the room’s whiteboard. We couldn’t think of anything appropriate, until we landed on Winston Churchill’s words, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Yet when I talk to other people going through the same hell, I never say “keep going.” It never occurs to me. I remind them instead, “We Fight!”

The Way of the Warrior

The Warrior. No one can live up to the image. It’s a cool archetype, oozing with street cred, machismo, and the empty victories of a thousand action movies. To face have faced death and lived? Everyone wants a piece of that. It’s the path to getting there we don’t like.

If only there were a way to know (not hope and dream – and brag – but know) that we could hold up in the face of the inevitable. If only we knew that we wouldn’t break. If only we knew that we were not cowards.

Yes, there will come a time when you will face death. Hell, even writing that is scary. If it scares you, too, then there are things that can be done – and good reasons to do them.

Know Yourself

“Knowing yourself” has gotten something of a bad rap lately, as if it were an invitation to navel gazing and daydreams. In the eyes of the common man, knowing yourself has gone from being the foundation of whole philosophies to wasted lotus-eating. Self-knowledge is decried as something that takes people away from the pursuit of, well, whatever it is the merchants are selling.

So let me put this another way: push! Push hard against the world. Push hard against your limits. Push so hard that you break the very “truths” you stand on. Push so hard that you have to find your own deepest core to hold your ground.

If you push so hard that the world breaks, you will find something more beneath it. It’s only through self-knowledge that we can truly free ourselves.

Self-knowledge isn’t a panacea, but it’s a good first step, and it will serve you in every struggle in your life. Remember, self-confidence isn’t self-knowledge any more than ignorant surety is education, or being a bully is the same as being a warrior.

“If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” –Sun Tzu

ProTip: Belly breathing is a useful first step on the path to self-knowledge. This is truly the navel-gazing your momma warned you about (or if you’re lucky, taught you). It will help you retreat from thinking about who you are, and focus on becoming that person.

Sit quietly somewhere and simply breathe comfortably into the area below and behind your navel. Don’t do anything else. When (not if!) you get bored and distracted, double-down. Should this practice bring up strong emotions, ease off and do some rigorous exercise as best you can.

"Hercules" by Charles Le Brun.  From WikiMedia.
“Hercules” by Charles Le Brun. From WikiMedia.

Take Heart

When courage falters, people say, “take heart!” Maybe that seems like a silly way to put it, but there is a deeper meaning to this. Cowardice is not a failure of the mind; it is a failure of the spirit. A person who breaks in panic is truly possessed by fear.

Your heart, not your head, is the seat of courage. It is only by learning to rest easy in our hearts that we can master overwhelming fear. Not dispel it, but master it.

The common man believes that fear only comes from inside. But fear can come from anywhere. It can lie in wait. It can be cast by our enemies. Fear can trap us, ensnare us, infect us, and tear us apart. But we do not need to defeat it; we only need to take heart.

ProTip: The only way to purge that fear from yourself is to bring your awareness to the center of your spirit – to your spiritual heart. While it is a fulcrum that exists in your spirit, you can find its real-world analogue on your breastbone, about three finger-widths below the hollow of your throat. Hold your awareness there and perform heart-breathing just like the belly-breathing.

Fear isn’t some strange thing. It’s a part of life we all face. Yet we have been taught to fear everything, especially fear. Feeling fear is fine, but it is one thing to feel fear, and another thing to be controlled by it.

In the end, we can master our bodies and our spirits one breath at a time. When it comes time to face the worst life dishes out, your whole self will be there at your side – a trusted ally and not some long-ignored and half-mad stranger.

Protip: Now is the time to test against fear. Train your spirit by standing up to your fears in a controlled way – speak in public, ask for a raise, befriend someone you normally wouldn’t. Dance.

" Pallas Athene Visits Invidia" by Karel Dujardin.  From WikiMedia.
” Pallas Athene Visits Invidia” by Karel Dujardin. From WikiMedia.

“We Fight!”

We like to think of death as the final destination of the (hopefully!) long journey of life. We imagine it as something in the far distance, an unknown land to which we’re drawing ever closer. That is wishful thinking.

When I learned to see my death approaching, I discovered that it had always been there. It had been just out of reach and just out of sight. Every moment of our lives, we hold it back by the strength of our wills and the light of our souls. All the rest is dross and detail.

The way of the warrior is to live life between those two moments: the moment when we sense our deaths, and the moment when we can no longer hold it back. In the end, we don’t train to fight because we want to be warriors. We train to be warriors because we understand, somewhere deep down, the fragility and precariousness of life.

In any fight for our lives, the useless falls away. Each decision can be weighed against one simple measure: live or die. And on the way to the foregone conclusion, the best we can do is transmute this choice from “live or die” into “live and die” – and do both well.

Tree City Witch: Getting Unstuck For The New Moon In Leo

It’s a theme in the current class I’m teaching: getting unstuck.

I had us all draw Tarot cards for it. The first question for the cards was this: are you actually stuck? Because, hey, maybe we’re not and think we are! It happens! And then I snuck in an “advice” card because I was pretty sure my trusty Rider Waite would tell me hell yes, girl, you stuck.

I drew Cups, others drew Cups, a plethora of emotionally constipated Cups in our stuckness, but I am here to tell you and them and myself that we can use this upcoming New Moon energy to release those grimy slimy obstacles. It’s not just for Full Moons anymore! Release it. Let it go. BAM!

 Leo the Lion, from "Guido Bonatti Liber Astronomiae."  From WikiMedia.
Leo the Lion, from “Guido Bonatti Liber Astronomiae.” From WikiMedia.

KARMIC DEGREE

The New Moon this weekend is at 0 degrees Leo, and astrologers love to talk about what they call “karmic” degrees. I admit I’m a particularly practical astrologer and Witch, and I would have to Google to remind myself what on earth they mean by “karmic degrees,” besides the obvious point of HEY THIS IS A REALLY BIG DEAL PAY ATTENTION. Mostly, the number zero reminds of the Fool card from the Tarot.

Tabula rasa. Clean slate. Begin again. Take a leap. Leap of faith. You and your little dog companion on the road again. Where do you want to go? Do you have a map for the road ahead? Do you need one? What next? What now? WTF?

A mega-Capricorn gal in the class drew the Chariot for me which made me go hmmm because it’s the last thing I’m feeling these days (all that forward momentum), but the New Moon hasn’t happened yet, and the cards are never wrong. It’s just our interpretation that is sometimes off the mark. I’m a hybrid metaphysician. The Chariot + Fool is my karmic degree for this New Moon. Zero shmeero. And yet.

Do you feel it too? Slow right now but fast fast fast around the corner?

0 degrees is the start of the sign. The start of the sign is super saturated that sign. Big Leo! Like a baby’s first cry, her battle cry, her announcement to the world: I AM HERE. Leo Season is here. We go from Mars entering Leo to the Sun entering Leo to the New Moon in Leo all in the space of a few days. Goodbye Sun in Cancer and Cancer Season. Your legendary compassion and moods are about to be replaced by pride and good hair. (Please pardon my sarcasm. I love both Cancer and Leo and have both signs represented in my chart.)

SETTING INTENTIONS

Astrology lovers usually know their charts by heart and can pinpoint where any lunation will happen for them. I think this is a crucial part of the self-development process and the Houses of the chart tell us so much. The Houses tell us and show us WHERE the action will be or should be, where the leap, the risk, will be or should be.

Yes. I said should — which is something I try not to say in my consultations, but sometimes it has to be said!. If you do not take that jump for this New Moon? The opportunity will be lost. Don’t get me wrong though. This map-less new journey can be small and simple. It can be a needle-eye. It can be a galaxy. The choice is yours. Well, yours and the Gods (and Goddesses).

Do you set New Moon intentions? Sometimes I turn it over and over in my mind and don’t know what to think and other times I’m ON IT. For this one I’ll be ready. Why? Because it’s not only a Sun Moon conjunction (which is what a New Moon is) but the Sun and Moon will also be conjunct Mars. What is Mars? Energy, drive, passion. Mars rules blood. Blood is life. There’s a lot of red hot power behind this New Moon and no matter where it’s acting up in your chart, I suggest you take note. This New Moon in Leo can wake you up. Get you unstuck.

"New Moon at Sunset" by Andrew McMillan.  Public Domain Image.
“New Moon at Sunset” by Andrew McMillan. Public Domain Image.

IN THE HOUSES

Of course the Houses are always MORE than one thing, and this is by no means comprehensive, but it may apply to you!!

New Moon in the First House: who are you now? who are you becoming? Think!
New Moon in the Second House: new money, new job, new confidence
New Moon in the Third House: writing, writing, and more writing!
New Moon in the Fourth House: that move may happen after all. Plant the seed
New Moon in the Fifth House: new baby (literal, metaphorical)
New Moon in the Sixth House: new food or exercise or self-care routine
New Moon in the Seventh House: collaboration!
New Moon in the Eight House: sex, death, and the occult :)
New Moon in the Ninth House: you going on a trip?
New Moon in the Tenth House: excellent for your job search!
New Moon in the Eleventh House: yes that meditation/yoga/art/cooking class is an EXCELLENT idea
New Moon in the Twelfth House: seek and ye shall find

PALLAS ATHENA IS THE STAR OF THIS SHOW

Pallas Athena, currently transiting the sign of Taurus, may seem like a supporting player this New Moon but I want to argue for her starring role in this sky. The New Moon and Sun and Mars in Leo will be “square” Pallas Athena.

The “square” is an aspect of tension. It can make us feel squeezed, uncomfortable. We’ll all feel it. And Pallas Athena, among other things, is the Goddess of Wisdom. Think about it. Taurus is a sign that makes things grow. Taurus is an earth sign. Nature. Cycles. Seasons. Dirt. Water. Mud! Takes its time. Do not rush a Taurus for it will never work and here comes this hot hot firey Leo sky full of charge ahead royal Marsy energy. Pallas Athena Goddess of Wisdom says: think again, fireball.

I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing. I think she may very well stop you from making some impulsive Fool-like decisions. Your Chariot may need new wheels. You can’t go anywhere with a broken beat-up Chariot. You’ll stall on the dang road. Just make sure that she doesn’t dull your shine or confidence or inspiration as she enumerates what you may not want to hear about your decision to travel across the world to meet that charming gorgeous guy/girl who you’ve been flirting with on the Internet for a week. We’ve all been there (haven’t we?).

Don’t let the square scare you. You can set your New Moon intention AND listen to the Goddess of Wisdom, my friends. You Mars-in-a-fire-sign folks know what I’m talking about. You know the trouble you get into! Be smart. Ask yourself: what would Pallas Athena do?

Happy New Moon, my friends!

—-

So you want to create a Tarot deck? Want to learn about the Tarot with other artists and writers and metaphysical mavens? My new class, Every Picture Tells A Story, begins September 6th. You can enroll now!

The Cartomancer: Just Shut Up

Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Sometimes I play games in the social media. One of my friends and former student in the Nonreading program asked this question for everyone to answer:

‘To end a fear, you have to face it. True or false?’

Amazing answers from people, the majority tilting towards ‘face it’. In other words, the majority went for ‘True’.

I got in the game too and said this:

‘Fear is a concept like everything else. Dissolve the concept and you’re free. Facing this and that is the false consciousness dictating.’

As soon as I wrote that I thought this to myself: ‘Shut the fuck up. There’s a lot of pleasure in most people dissecting concepts or consuming them, not dissolving them. What’s the point of going against this pleasure, ruining it for people, or some people anyway, when clinging is here to stay? Not nice.’

On second thought, however, this also made me think of how I deal with the world at large. I listen, I observe, I learn, I engage my curiosity, and pass judgment without judgment.

I try to have a rigorous practice of discerning, though I may as well disclose that this discerning often happens against the backdrop of dissolving all concepts.

I take a lot of pleasure in that to the point where I have to remind myself to put it down, and not attach to it. Whenever I see that my pleasure begins to take over, I send it to hell. ‘No attachment, back to zero, back to the void.’ This practice serves me well.

The point is that the above exchange about ending fear by facing it or not reminded me of an actual practice that I call, Just Shut Up, one that uses 23 cards laid out in a mini-tableau.

The bottom 3 cards are the ones that tell you where to shut up and in what to shut up. If you’re lucky with your cards, the cards will also suggest why you must shut up.

Here’s an example of a recent reading for someone who kept complaining about doing what I do, deconstruct language and its fictions, but not being cool about it afterwards. Oh, the clinging to guilt, lots of pleasure right there. A bad one…

‘What if I’m wrong in my attitude?,’ this person asked most sincerely. ‘What if I’m merely critical, not discerning?’

Indeed, it’s a fair question to ask, especially since seeing things as they are can be confused with claiming that you do, but in reality you don’t. How to know the difference?

If you’re not ready to dissolve all concepts – usually that settles everything beyond any negotiation or dispute – looking at a string of cards can give you an idea.

For this reading I used the simple method of reading playing cards where the reds are ‘good’ and the blacks are ‘bad’, with the clubs functioning as a full stop to whatever sentencing is going on.

Hearts are family and friends, diamonds are money and ideas, spades are war and death, and clubs are work and finish the line. One is little, ten is a lot. That’s it.

Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The first thing to notice is the absence of court cards. After the final full stop, the 2 Clubs, the Queen of Hearts decided to grace us with her presence … when the line was over, and everything else coming after the final full stop being redundant. Talk about belatedness…

The first sentence is short and easy: Great pleasure in participating in the pool of ideas (7H, 9D, AH), but (downgrade from the 7 to 1), objecting to others’ pleasure kills it (9S, 7C). Full stop (7C).

Critical pleasure (5H, 6S) flexes the brain (3D, 7D), but it constrains (4S) the way you think for yourself (5D) in terms of consolidating messages (AD, 4D) whose anchor is in the big kill (7S, AS). Full stop (10C).

Now what? How is one to work (8C) on this disaster (3S) in a manner that’s mutually helping? (2C)

The Dame of Hearts wants to make an entrance. Too bad. Too late.

So we’re left with ‘just shut up’. Not all young men get it (Knave of Clubs, 2 spades).

My sitter nodded at this message, serving back at me what I also said to her in another similar setting, referring to our university students: ‘You can’t save them all’ – even when ‘saving’ is not even part of the agenda.

My dog and the master (Photo: Camelia Elias)
My dog and the master (Photo: Camelia Elias)

To make things easier this time, I referred the person to a favorite passage of mine from one of my own main teachers: Sri Nissargadatta Maharaj. This passage speaks mercilessly of what we make of what we’re doing, what gods we worship and why, inviting us to move beyond even the urge to say anything, do anything, think anything.

He says this in Seeds of Consciousness, in one of his regular satsangs, the sitting with the master for a public discourse, where questions are asked and answered:

Q: There are many students of Kundalini Yoga, of Shakti; does the Jnani [sage] necessarily through his practice, through his being, awaken the Kundalini that others speak about?

Maharaj: The Jnani has no interest whatsoever in the Kundalini. Prior to your birth where was the Kundalini? This Kundalini is all that you perceive, all that you see. They call it by different names, that’s all.

Q: But some Yogi concentrate a force which goes through the seven chakras and presumably follow the spinal column.

Maharaj: What you say is correct, but prior to your birth it was not there. It is only thought.

Q: Are they all deluded, then, in pursuing the study of Kundalini Yoga?

Maharaj: Anyone who wants to practice anything can do so, but what is it? Zero – Nothing

(Seeds of Consciousness, Nisargadatta, 1982: 110-111).

Demystify and then shut up

Needless to say, part of my own preaching in my work with cards and Zen and nondual awareness draws on such demystifications.

It always comes across as ‘tough luck’ whenever we have it pointed out that what we call truth and reality has mighty little to do with either truth or reality.

What’s left? Just shut up. You encounter what you encounter, the life you witness, on terms that are completely shared not divided.

That’s the awesome part.

Meanwhile, I’m still at it. As my student pondered on my response above in the social media, she consequently asked: ‘How does one dissolve a concept?’

I said: ‘You dissolve it by being a witness. By saying: Fear is what? Zero, nothing at all [bows to my master]. The same applies to every other concept on the planet, and that includes, love, children, realization, self-empowerment, the whole long list.’

What’s left? To witness your attachment to concepts. This will enable you to just shut up and be cool about it.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities and courses.

The Hearth of Hellenism: We Don’t have Relationships with the Gods, or Do We?

One of the goals of this blog is to confront our beliefs and think about our assumptions or expectations. Think of me like Socrates (but cuter), always asking questions, probing deeper to get to the truth. I just hope a cup of hemlock will not be on the menu in my future. Please be gentle with me kind reader.

This entry is dedicated to a critical examination to a common belief in paganism, that of “personal relationships” with the Gods. It is commonplace to hear in discussion with pagans about their interactions with the Gods, which they label as “relationships”. Some describe how a certain God “called” to them, or how they “work with” a God(s) in magical practice. Whatever it may be, the interactions one has with their deity is often viewed as a “personal relationship”.

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

For sake of being like Socrates, let’s challenge this concept. I want to explore this not simply for the sake of writing a post. I want to engage in some philosophical hypothesis. I also want to show everyone that paganism varies and we can approach our traditions in various ways. Some pagans may not think of themselves as having a “relationship” with any particular God. The attitudes of many Greeks I encounter who practice the ancestral tradition differ from those I have encountered in the wider pagan community. This post explores this other side.

My first gripe with the concept of “personal relationships” with Gods is that it could be an element which we carried over from Christianity. Various Christians are known for claiming to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus/God, because their God is a personal God. In their theological view, God is the creator of everything and viewed as a heavenly parental figure. Thus, like a parent who wants to have a relationship with his children, God desires to have a relationship with us, God’s children. Some challenge the concept of a personal relationship with Jesus, so that’s nice to see I am not the only one questioning the idea of personal relationship with divinity.

For many Pagans, Christianity of some version is often what we are born into and later leave it for another tradition. But are we brining with us the idea of personal relationships? Is it subconscious or a conscious attempt to be “equal” with our monotheistic neighbors? When a Christians say, they have a personal relationship with Jesus, a pagan can respond that they too also have a personal relationship with their own God(s). It levels the playing field, pagans too can also experience a “personal relationship” with the divine. But do we, can we really have “relationships” with Gods? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how you understand what the Gods are, how they exist.

At this point you might be thinking, of course we have relationships with the Gods, look at the mythologies, mankind and Gods have adventures together, interact, and have lots of sex (looking at you Zeus). We fall into a trap when we think of myth as literal, we don’t want to do what Christians do with the Bible, make the stories literal history. I find it that when discussing mythology, we take it on face value. I want to move the dialogue and discussion away from a literal interpretation of Homer’s works. The philosophers have their approach to all of this. Mythology is treated differently; the Gods are given some philosophical upgrades in the process.

"Zeus and Thetis" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.  From WikiMedia.
“Zeus and Thetis” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. From WikiMedia.

Plato rejects many myths as false. For example, any time Zeus turned into an animal to have his way with a human. Plato says they are not true. In The Republic, Plato defines that Gods are perfect beings, with perfect form. The Gods have full control of their bodies and do not do anything unwillingly. They do not change their form into any lower or inferior form, because a being would not worsen itself on purpose. Zeus would not take on a lower form (worsening his form) such as an animal.

Instead of relationships, what we have are relations with the Gods. There is a difference, the former is social/interpersonal, while the latter is reflecting interactions, not having to be between people. For Plato, there are proper relations between the Gods and mankind. In Euthyphro when Socrates confronts the man Euthyphro and has him define what piety is, Euthyphro says it is proper service to the Gods. However, the problem with this is that how do you provide service to a God? Service is found in a relationship between an individual who needs something and another person who provides the service in fulfillment of that need. In the case of Euthyphro, the service is defined between a servant and master. Masters have needs which the servant fulfills. But Gods are perfect and have no needs, so there is no service to provide them.

How do we serve the Gods? Socrates’ (or Plato’s since he wrote Euthyphro) view is that we can serve the Gods by being helpful or assisting them. We help to fulfill undertakings which benefit humankind. Our relation with the Gods is how we work with them to bring greater peace into the world and in our own lives. We are here to promote human virtue amongst our fellow man.

What about our experiences? You may have had experience with a God or multiple Gods, where they have revealed themselves in some manner. I do think I have had legitimate experiences with Gods. Oddly enough, the first God to make themselves known to me was not a Greek divinity, it was Isis, the Egyptian Goddess. She came to me in a dream, and slowly over the years I have been “initiated” by Her. Challenging the concept of “personal relationship” is not an attempt to discard or deny contact with the Gods or our experiences. I believe contact with the Gods are real, they can reveal themselves to us. But I do not think that constitutes a relationship as we often frame the interactions. While the interactions and experience are personal, as no one else shares those experiences, but it still is not a relationship, in my view.

I addressed the matter to Y.S.E.E for their input, what I have been told is that the Gods are Όντα not Πρόσωπα. They are beings not persons. We have interactions with them, but that is defined as contact (επαφή). I understand this statement as saying, you cannot have relationship with the Gods because they are not people, relationship occurs between people. Human relationships have limitations, rules, etiquette, and expectations. These sorts of things cannot be expected from a God; thus, a relationship cannot be had.

We cannot call our experience with the Gods relationships, just as we cannot call my experience with the sun a relationship. I feel the sun’s light on me and it will burn me the longer I stay outside. That is relation, not relationship. I can take the light of sun and do things with it, I could capture the light and save it in a battery. I can also magnify the light with a lens and start a fire with it. Like the sun, with the Gods, we can feel their power move through our lives but it does not form a relationship as we often think of it. In this view, it is a one-way experience, our experience. In a relationship, both parties have experiences. So, do/can the Gods experience us?

"Apollo & the Continents" by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.  From WikiMedia.
“Apollo & the Continents” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. From WikiMedia.

What is wrong with thinking of our experiences as “personal relationships”? There are some issues with thinking of our interactions as “personal relationships”. When we do, I think we then privatize what is meant to be shared for the greater whole. One could think of this as “Divine Socialism” – where we work for the collective good rather than personal enrichment, this goes back to Euthyphro and our task to work with the Gods to better society along with ourselves, not just ourselves.

When we frame our interactions as “personal relationships” is also runs the risk of improper relations. Such as, thinking you have an “in” with a God, special access to them, or somehow have something that a person who does not have the “relationship” with the God does not have. Gods are not a friendly bouncer who lets you into the club because you two are homies.

When we say, I have “personal relationships” it may be misunderstood by others that there is something special or unique in you because of that “relationship”. Experiences are not a sign of uniqueness or elevated status. If you do not have an experience with a certain God does not mean the God dislikes you. Having an experience does not mean they like you. I treat experiences as sacred and important but it can happen to anyone. Going back to the sun metaphor, it shines on everyone, some may not look up to see it, but just because you did look up to see the sun does not mean that those who did not, don’t know the sun, or are not connected. You simply put more attention onto the sun than others.

Maybe I am completely wrong and we do in fact can have relationships with the Gods. What this has been is an attempt to honor the maxim “know thy self”, that is, knowing more about our own nature. This was also a philosophical exercise, one in which I wish I could had with Plato or Iamblichus, or any other philosopher of those days. I hope you enjoyed this deep philosophical examination on this topic. What do you think about this subject? Where do you agree or disagree with me? Discuss and philosophize with me, please.

Tree City Witch: The Sun in Leo Is Your Fire Cure

I used to think that I stopped being depressed in my mid-30s, that suddenly it was gone.

Okay, not suddenly, but life changed. It got better. I was my own boss after years of failing at working for others. Work saved me. I was in New York City. Surviving. Living. I felt as though I’d crossed some bridge of life, the depression bridge, and that was it. I’d outgrown it and become some better stronger version of me. Amazing me. Look at me.

"The Sun From a Persian Manuscript." From the Welcome Trust. CC 4.0 License.
“The Sun From a Persian Manuscript.” From the Welcome Trust. CC 4.0 License.

Now I see things differently. Yesterday was my birthday, and now I know better. That multi-year span of no-depression was actually the aberration. Amazing me. Look at me.

It’s in this context that I want to talk to you about the Sun, from an astrological vantage. The Sun will leave Cancer, a water sign, and enter Leo, a fire sign, later this month. The Sun “rules” Leo.

Leo is a very “look at me” sign. Real life Leos are known for their pride and warmth and creativity and courage and EGO, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. We all need a little ego. We all need to get up each day. Without a sense of self (Sun), how do we know what to do? We don’t.

The Sun, my friends, is who you are. Essence. Identity. We need fire. We need Sun. We need it shining on our faces at least some of the time and not just for the Vitamin D.

HOW MUCH FIRE?

If you know your natal chart then you know the answer to this question: do you have fire?

Every planet in your birth chart is in a particular astrological sign and each sign is an element: water, earth, fire or air. Some people have an even distribution among the elements and some do not. The less fire you have, the more you may try to get it. Fire is passion, like the suit of Wands in the Tarot.

Years ago an astrologer told me that because I lacked fire, I should light candles, warm myself up from the outside in. This was years before I knew anything about candle magick although having grown up in a traditional Jewish home I was more than familiar with the power of ritual fire because of the Shabbat candles. These Friday night candles usher in and welcome the Shabbat just as the Havdalah candle on Saturday night says goodbye. We are sad to say farewell to the Shabbat Queen so we light and we pray and we wait for Friday to come again. Fire as antidote.

WHO YOU TRULY ARE

I’ve been doing this work a long time. It’s not uncommon for a client to have me draw cards for them or look at the chart because they do not know how they feel, what they are good at, what their essence is — until I tell them. No. Until I remind them.

See, we forget. We forget and then the Sun enters Leo, the sign it rules, and it’s easier to remember who we are, why we’re here. To be ourselves. To shine.

The Sun enters Leo and you can (re)connect to YOU.

 Sign of Leo, Islamic Zoiac, from Pergamon Museum in Berlin.  Photo by JukeBoxHere via WikiMedia.  CC License 2.0
Sign of Leo, Islamic Zoiac, from Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Photo by JukeBoxHero 42 via WikiMedia. CC License 2.0

BRIEFLY ABOUT THE AUGUST ECLIPSES

For those who do not know the astrology: the wheel is made up of twelve houses, twelve pieces of the pie, and each house symbolizes an area of life (and always more than one!).

This Sun in Leo will be someplace specific in your particular chart. It will light you up, and it is journeying there, right now, as I type this. The Sun is currently in the mid degrees of Cancer and day by day we get closer and closer to the start of Leo Season. We follow the Sun.

But the real reason I have my eye on Leo so intently at this time, besides the fact that the Sun will be entering Leo shortly, is because we have two eclipses next month, one of them in, you guessed it, Leo.

I will write about this more as the days pass, but I just wanted to give you a heads up now, in case you didn’t know:

Eclipses. August. Leo. YOU.

Image of the total eclipse of 1999 from Gmunden, Austria by Image of the total eclipse of 1999 from Gmunden, Austria.  CC License 4.0
Image of the total eclipse of 1999 from Gmunden, Austria by Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel. CC License 4.0

HOW THE SUN IN LEO CAN HELP YOU

I recommend fire meditation, fire ritual, candle magick, ordinary tea lights, not so ordinary tea lights, Shabbat candles. I recommend the fires of Leo Season and gazing at the lights. All of this for your mood. I recommend August. I recommend the lion. I recommend warm foods. I also recommend acceptance without judgement. This is a tough one. Acceptance of where you are, including your lack of fire.

So maybe you need extra time to do your work. So maybe you can’t always be so social. So maybe you need time to sit and do nothing. Hours and hours of nothing. Or minutes. Because it is quiet and healing.

And by “acceptance” I mean patience, like the Strength card in the Tarot, the lovely lion card, and that the Sun in Leo can teach you how, show you how.

It’s in the way the Sun just shines. It doesn’t worry: are my rays too warm? Am I showing off too much? Should I turn it down a little? Real Leos don’t worry about such trifles. They dance. They beam. They are themselves.

This is your sacred task in Leo Season, to remember what it’s like to feel no shame and reconnect with that part of yourself, even for a moment, even if you have to think back to another lifetime, and to be the Sun.

You’ll get glimpses of precisely how to do this as we get closer to the August eclipses. In fact, the revelations may become fast and furious for you, revelations about the path you’re on and whether it’s the right one! Really. You will. Let me know what you hear, and I’ll be back soon to compare notes.

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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 Comic Artists here in Florida. The course is for Tarot lovers and artists/writers who are interested in creating their own Tarot deck. We launch this summer. Stay tuned for details or message me!

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