So, it’s been about 2 weeks since my last tarot post. That whole “I’ve missed posting here and I want to do more of it” thing hasn’t exactly led to an upswing of writing so far, apparently. I’m clearly still struggling a little bit with setting a routine around regular writing for the website, though I’ve managed to finish a couple of other non-website related pieces of late.
In any case, I actually drew a card last week and just haven’t gotten around to writing anything about it until now. In a shocking development, the question is job-related. I’ve spent some time recently reflecting on what kind of work I really want to do, and this draw was related to that reflection.
Question: What’s one thing my next job needs to include in order for me to be content?
Card: Two of Cups
First impressions: Huh. This card has always screamed “Relationships” to me. I certainly haven’t looked at it through a professional or otherwise work-related lens before.
About the card: The card contains just two people, a man and a woman. They’re both well-dressed and are facing each other in the center of the card. Each of them is holding a big damn cup – the woman is holding hers in both hands, while the man is holding onto his cup in his left hand and reaching out to hers with his right. Between the couple there’s a caduceus and above that a winged lion’s head. In the background there’s a pretty little scene with low hills and a building that looks to me like a cottage or house.
The story without words: The scene here reads pretty strongly as a wedding. There’s clearly something ceremonial about the way the way the cups are being held…or exchanged, really, now that I look at it again. Rather than the man reaching out toward the woman’s cup, maybe he’s just handed it to her and is pulling his hand back instead. That makes quite a bit more sense, actually (I mentioned before that I’m slow, didn’t I?). The caduceus symbolizes balance and healing, which certainly fits with the notion of this being a commitment ceremony of some sort.
But what does it mean?: Looking at the card, I’m reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s words about marriage in The Prophet, which include the following:
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Gibran’s words speak pretty clearly to my own feelings about partnerships of any sort – be they romantic, platonic, or professional. My best relationships have always been about exchange, and the best projects I’ve worked on – professionally or not – have ultimately been about collaboration. What really feeds me, what I really crave, is that sense of working with a team of excellent collaborators. And that’s really what I see in this card – individuals coming together to create something new, something unique. The fact that there are just two individuals in the card and they’re pretty obviously getting hitched is, at least in the context of my question, beside the point. Mind you, I don’t know if my next paid work will include this kind of collaborative exchange, but even if it doesn’t, this card is a good reminder that that is something I want in my life.
For those of you eagerly anticipating my next round of ill-conceived thoughts about the Tarot, fear not. I will be demonstrating even more of my ignorance in that area soon enough. For now, though, I fear I must subject you to some other rambling instead.
This afternoon, an acquaintance who I quite like posted something on Facebook that I desperately wanted to respond to, and damn the inevitable invoking of Godwin’s law that would eventually follow. Despite my efforts, though, I was unable to formulate a coherent response that I was happy with. The problem (other than the fact that I was seething with frustration and no small amount of anger at what I sincerely hope is ignorance on his part) is simply that I couldn’t find a clear place where I knew our worldviews to intersect. Without being able to establish that bit of common ground, I couldn’t point to a place where those views began to diverge. Ultimately I think any useful conversation between us would have had to start with, “In the beginning,” and let’s be honest – a Facebook comment thread is probably not the best place for that sort of discussion.
I’m still left with that irrational desire to list all of the reasons my acquaintance’s beliefs are misguided, but instead of that I am going to try something marginally more positive. So. In response to no demand whatsoever, popular or otherwise, here’s a partial list, in no particular order, of things I believe about the world. After much consideration, I’m giving it the title, “Things Jason Believes About The World (A Partial List, Arranged In No Particular Order).” Catchy, isn’t it?
- All full-time jobs should provide a living wage for the person working.
- Medical care is a human right. Sick people ought to be able to go to the doctor.
- A world-class education should be incredibly expensive to the government and completely free to students. If you’re smart enough and motivated enough to get into a school, and you make the grade while you’re there, it should be covered.
- If marriage must be a state institution (and it shouldn’t, by the way) then any configuration of consenting adults should be afforded the same access to it as heterosexual partners currently do. There are legal and financial benefits associated with state-sanctioned marriage, and to deny those benefits to any adult member of society is a violation of their civil rights.
- Food is not a privilege, it is a human right. So is medical care. So is shelter.
- My taxes are too low. So are yours. Food isn’t cheap, shelter is expensive, and medical care is astronomical. Education is incredibly pricey. If my tax dollars go to feed, house, clothe and care for my sisters and brothers, and if they are earmarked for education, then I say this: Raise. My. Taxes.
- Many drugs probably aren’t as bad for you as large amounts of alcohol.
- Collaboration is way more fun than competition.
- Any system designed to help people will be imperfect. These systems should be studied, improvements should be made. The imperfections in the systems are not an excuse for not helping people.
- Americans ought to stop fetishizing bootstraps.
- I think it’d be a nice idea if the government listened to its constituents with legitimate complaints rather than sending the authorities in with pepper spray.
- Some crimes are abominations. Capital punishment is one, too.
- Success takes many forms. I won’t mock yours if you don’t mock mine. As the man said, “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” (Related mental note: I should probably stop making jokes about people driving big SUVs compensating for other shortcomings.)
As I settle into my job search (it’s going fairly well, all things considered, and thank you to those of you who have asked), I’m finding a somewhat surprising lack of perceived time for writing. I have a bit of freelance work going on at the moment, and that’s work I can do from home – which is a blessing that I’ve never had before, and in a lot of ways I love it. In some ways, though…well, I’m realizing just how set some of my patterns are. The computer I use for the freelance project is one that’s never really been used for work before. It’s a happy little netbook that I’ve used almost exclusively for either writing or (let’s be honest here) futzing about on the internet. And while I can take a break from work at any time, I’m finding that I have a curious block when it comes to actually writing for pleasure in the physical space where I’m working.
All of which is to say, it’s been 8 days since my last post, and I’ve missed it. I’ll try and do better.
Recently, an idea was posted to the email list used for Mystery School – basically, the suggestion was made to use the Tarot to look for something to take into the mysteries of the coming year. That felt like a good place to go with my next draw, so without further ado…
Question: What is one thing I can take with me into the coming year?
Card: Ten of Pentacles
First impressions: Wow. There’s a lot going on in this card. People and dogs and buildings, oh my! This is one of the (many) cards that I have no background with whatsoever, so this should be interesting.
About the card: In the foreground, we have an old gentleman sitting down, facing away from us. He’s sitting down and wearing what look like very lavish (and certainly very colorful) robes. I’m not sure what all of the designs on the robes are, but there are what appear to grapes in the design somehow, though this might just be me looking for something that isn’t really there. Anyway, our old guy is petting a dog and looking out through an archway upon what feel to me like his holdings (we can see a field and some trees in the background, along with some buildings). On the inside of the arch are a couple of banners, one with a castle in the design – it feels like a coat of arms of sorts, so I’m reading the old guy to be either a lord or at least the most influential person around these parts.
There are 3 other people in the scene: A younger man, facing away from us and toward a woman, who has a small child standing beside her. The child is petting the rump of another dog.
The story without words: When I look at a card, generally I’m waiting a day or so before writing about it. Mostly that’s out of laziness and lack of time, but this time that delay was kind of useful, because I missed something rather obvious on the first viewing. At first, I read the younger man and the woman as a couple having a conversation. The obvious narrative conclusion was that they were the parents of the small child. But when I looked at the card again today, I saw that the man is actually holding a spear. Noticing one item changes “husband” into “guard”. More to the point – it changes the younger man from being “the woman’s husband” to “the old man’s guard”.
Funny, how adding a weapon shifts the narrative so fundamentally.
The story I’m seeing here, now, is that the woman is seeking entrance to the older man’s home for some reason, and the younger man is at least questioning her, and perhaps keeping her out entirely. The presence of the child makes it *feel* like she’s looking for aid of some sort, but I’m not sure why. The older man is dressed rather extravagantly, to be sure, but nobody in this image is wearing a beggar’s rags or anything.
I think I liked the card a little better before I saw the spear, actually – then it was an old rich guy watching a couple talk outside his house. Now, I’m wondering about whether or not he’s even going to give the woman the time of day.
But what does it mean?: I’m not getting a whole lot from the card, honestly, other than a general sense of material wealth on the part of the older man. There also seems to be…hm. This is harder to define, for me. A sense of propriety, or convention, I guess. It doesn’t seem like the woman and her child are being turned away out of hand, but I do get the idea that there’s a particular way that one is expected to approach those with wealth, and the older man wants those forms to be followed.
How that actually speaks to my question about the future, I have no idea. I don’t feel like I’m taking a lot of material wealth and plenty into this coming year, and I’d like to think that part of what I can do with the coming year is to set aside some convention. I’d like to find ways to do more of what I love and have less of a sense of obligation. I’d like to feel at ease with less, rather than feel like I’m trapped in a particular job because of the perceived financial security it offers.
They aren’t all going to smack me upside the head with obvious insights, apparently. Also, one of these days I’ll stop turning all draws into questions about my job search. Probably not anytime soon, mind you, but one of these days.
I’ve had a pretty productive week so far. Monday I finished the first draft of my updated resume and distributed it to the friends who have generously agreed to review it. On Tuesday I ran a bunch of errands, got some work done around the house, and did some research into other careers I might want to consider beyond the training realm (not sure how far I want to branch out yet, but it’s a good exercise that I should have completed a long time ago). Tomorrow will be pretty full, with a meeting about a freelance gig in the morning, followed by lunch and dinner plans – a whole day out in the suburbs. What a treat! Tomorrow will also include some of the mounds of paperwork to send back to my previous employer. Nothing huge going on, but I’m grateful to have enough on my schedule to have some routine to my week so far.
Having said that, I decided that today would be a day off. I have a few other things percolating that will need attention later in the week, and…well, look. I might as well enjoy some of the enforced time off, right? So the grand plan for the day was to sleep in (haha, yeah right), make breakfast, go to the library, maybe do some writing, and then see just how much television I can enjoy in one afternoon. Exciting goals, I know.
Given this ambitious plan, the discovery at around 7:30am that there was a foul and mysterious odor1 emanating from the laundry room in the basement did not amuse. Some discussion over coffee revealed that the odor was most likely related either to the hot water heater that serves the second floor or the dryer (which was running at the same time). After some more consideration, V and I concluded that the aroma could best be described as “High notes of burning, with a subtle undertone of death.” At least, that’s how it was best described from the back porch on the second floor. In the basement, the death was much more overt. I can only presume this is due to the basement’s closer proximity to the Underworld. Since money is tighter today than it was 10 days ago (and also since V is a good and kind person), we decided to see if we could determine the source of the problem on our own before calling in a professional – if nothing else, so we could figure out who to call. HVAC? Plumbing? Appliance repair? All options seemed possible on this magical day.
Step one, of course, was to determine whether the dryer or the water heater was the culprit. We started by running the dryer for a few minutes and waiting to be overwhelmed by the foul and mysterious odor. This failed to happen, which was both good and bad news – good news because I’m not qualified to do anything to the dryer at all, but bad news because the dryer is still under warranty so if there was something mechanically wrong with it, we would likely not be spending money to fix the problem.
So, on to step two. The best choice here would be to go back upstairs and see if running the hot water enough to make that water heater kick on would do anything interesting, but upstairs seemed rather far away, so V turned on the hot water in her unit and we stood around some more. Again, nothing. We considered that perhaps we had simply gotten used to the foul odor, but that seemed rather unlikely, all things considered.
V futzed with the air ducts above the water heaters, thinking that the first step would be to figure out how to easily disconnect the long piece that ran to all of them so we could better visualize the problem. I believe it was around this point that I saw something that might actually haunt me for a while:
So, my big news this week is that I lost my job last Tuesday. As will surprise nobody, I am more than a little freaked out by this development, for any number of reasons. The fact that my health insurance is scheduled to lapse on November 30th (that’s tomorrow, for those of you keeping score at home) is among those reasons, but certainly not the only one.
It’s no surprise, then, that this has been on my mind for the past few days. After I tried to approach the topic through last week’s failed draw, I decided to try a different approach with my next question.
Question: What gift should I take away from my recent job loss?
Card: The Fool
First impressions: My whining about ending up with a major on the previous draw was, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be found. I actually laughed out loud when I turned this card over. I love the card – not only that, but I love the idea of The Fool.
About the card: This is one of those cards where it will be difficult to focus exclusively on the image itself, but I’ll at least start there. So, we have a guy dressed in colorful, festive garb with a bindle his right shoulder, and a white flower in his left hand. He’s looking up into a completely clear sky, the sun shining down on him…and he’s about one step from stepping right off a damn cliff. In the background we see a steep, sharp range of snow-covered mountains, and at his feet there’s a cute white dog. Said dog is up on its hind legs, apparently excited about something.
The story without words: There’s lots of narrative juice for me in this card – or lots of questions, actually, which is even better. Here are some of the questions that jump out at me immediately…
Where did the flower come from? The Fool travels light. I mean, here’s this guy walking along with what I have to imagine are all of his worldly possessions. Not only do they fit in two hands…they actually fit in one hand, which left the other hand free to either pick the flower or receive it as a gift from someone. Looking at the card today, I find myself wondering which it is – whether he saw it and picked it himself, or if it was given to him. I don’t think the answer particularly matters, to be honest. What stands out here for me is that he had a hand free for it, and it was important enough to bring along. He carries so little with him, I have to imagine that each item he has is important to him.
What’s going through his mind right now? Is he lost in thought? Does he know he’s close to the edge of the cliff? If so, why is he looking up instead of looking ahead? Perhaps he’s just basking in the sun and is otherwise unaware of where he is, but…I don’t know. Somehow I tend to believe that he knows exactly where he is, and is willfully ignoring what will happen when he takes that next step. I think that’s the only way he can enter a new life, or start a new adventure. Otherwise, he’ll just see the same things over and over again. Maybe the only way to really experience what comes next is to not really see I coming.
What about that damn dog? Man, I’ve never known about that dog. When I’ve looked at the card in the past, the lasting impression I’ve had is that it’s close enough to nip at The Fool’s ankle and send him over the cliff if he hesitates. Studying the card today, I don’t think that’s actually true. I’m still wondering, though…when The Fool takes that next step, does the little dog jump after, or shake his head in pity?
But what does it mean?: I’m biased as hell on this one, but today I can’t see anything bad or scary in the card, despite the fact that the idea of being without a job for any length of time scares the bejeezus out of me. I’m aware that I’ve spent a whole lot of time with my career taking up both hands, as it were. My most recent job included a commute that had me on the road anywhere between 2 and 3 hours a day, and also featured exciting things like the occasional 12 hour day in the office and at least half a day of work each weekend. I don’t mind working hard – I really like it, in fact – but I really haven’t had a free hand for the Fool’s white flower in a long time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m about 95% as worried about the prospect of being jobless for months today as I was when I got the bad news a week ago. Drawing a card I see as hopeful doesn’t change that – or at least, it doesn’t change it for me. What it does do, though, is remind me that I have some choice in how I choose to view the situation. I have some prospects that will keep the mortgage paid and keep me fed for a few months, at least, and while it won’t be exciting work, shelter and food are a pretty good start for the moment.
The card in music: As most everyone who knows me is aware, my favorite musician is a guy named Stuart Davis, who I’ve followed for close to 15 years. He’s a brilliant songwriter, and a few years back he released a song that immediately made me think of The Fool. It’s called Already Free. Some of the lyrics that stand out for me when I think of the card include the following:
But I needed a push to get me to see
Wherever I am, I’m already free
And if that’s not enough, the one that feels like a sledgehammer tapping me lightly on the back of the head:
I dug a tunnel when I needed a lift
Such a fool just afraid of a gift
Something subtle when it started to shift
now I’m soaring over cliffs
To be clear, I have no idea if The Fool factors into the song at all for Stu. I could probably ask (he’s the sort of musician who might well get around to responding to a question like that) but I’m not sure if I really want to know. For me, it’s enough to say that if I ever make a Tarot mix (not likely, but it’s an idea I’ve kicked around a couple of times), this song will be the first track. Give it a listen, if you’re so inclined: Already Free.
I attempted another draw this morning, thinking that I could let the card percolate for a while during the drive home to Chicago and maybe even get it posted from the car (while someone else drives, I promise). Somehow, though, it just isn’t happening today. In unsurprising news, my mind is really full of job-related worries at the moment (or, rather, lack-of-job-related worries), so I drew a card with a question related to that.
Almost immediately, I found myself wanting to draw a different card instead. Not because the card I drew felt terrible or anything, but because it didn’t immediately fit the story I had in my head…or at least the story I WANTED to believe was true at the moment. I tried sitting with the card for a little while, but still couldn’t see past the block of the apparent image versus the desired story.
So, screw it (for today, anyway). I’ll give it another day or so and see if another draw allows me to see something different. In the meantime, I’m almost halfway home from my Thanksgiving trip and am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed in a few hours.
I’ve been a staff member at Diana’s Grove Mystery School for the past two years (and a member of that community since 2006), and recently I made the decision that it was time to step away from that role. Lots of reasons why that’s true, none of which are immediately germane here. But earlier this week, I had the final ‘official’ meeting with an amazing group that I’ve been mentoring in leadership, community and ritual arts, and facilitation skills. That work has been a highlight not only of my time in Mystery School, but a highlight of my life during the time that I’ve been doing it. Fresh off the bittersweet experience of saying goodbye, I did my second tarot draw.
Question: What should I consider as I exit my role in my current spiritual community?
First impressions: “Damn it, a Major.” Clearly I shouldn’t have expressed my gratitude for having drawn a non-major, non-court card the first time. On the other hand, this is a card I don’t know much at all about, so of the majors it’s not a bad one to end up with.
About the card: Okay, so let’s look at this thing. I see a nude woman with blonde hair. She’s down on her left knee, with her right foot resting on the surface of a lake. She’s also pouring water out of two jugs – one into the lake, and the other onto the ground nearby. The water being poured onto the ground is going in a few directions, including a small trickle that’s feeding into the lake.
In the background, there’s one tree with a bird in its uppermost branches, and a mountain range way off in the distance. In the sky, there are eight 8-pointed stars – seven smaller ones and one big damn star in the middle. My brain wants to make the large one the Sun, but given that this card is The Star, I’m going to resist that impulse on the assumption that it’s stupid.
Some other things I notice, here: First off, the woman is huge. It could just be perspective, but I don’t think so – she looks like a giant. Clearly not just a random woman traipsing through the countryside with a couple of water jugs. Second, the water being poured out onto the ground isn’t going the right direction. I mean, part of it is trickling into the lake, but more of it is moving in other directions – including uphill. Finally, there’s the fact that the woman’s foot is resting on top of the lake – not in the lake, on top of it. That seems kind of important.
The story without words: With only one person in the image, it’s harder for me to see a narrative in the card. I’m struck by the fact that the woman is doing something that seems ridiculous, though, in watering the lake. I mean, most people don’t go to the lake and add water to it, right? It’s usually the other way around. One thing I “know” about the Tarot is that an unclothed form symbolizes vulnerability. I tend to translate that as “purity,” instead. Maybe this figure is watering the lake and the ground because at her heart, that’s what she does – she brings emotional connection with her wherever she goes. Whether it’s “needed” by the lake or not is immaterial to the fact that this is who she is and what she does.
But what does it mean?: Through this lens, I’m aware that I’ve compartmentalized my life in some ways that I’m not thrilled with (that’s part of the larger purpose of this new site, to bring more of those compartmentalized parts of my life together, but that’s a topic for a later post). I tend to see myself as a leader, a mentor, a ritual artist, a partner, a writer…all of these things, but any one of them only in certain limited contexts. I find that I often wouldn’t really think of bringing my gifts to a place where they seem like they either don’t fit or are already present. Perhaps like the woman in this card, I would do well to have fewer barriers between myself and the world that surrounds me. Maybe the point of offering my self isn’t to find the perfect venue where that self is most needed or will be most appreciated, but simply to offer those gifts wherever I go.
This all feels like a very tenuous connection to the card itself. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this one again to see what else comes up for me.
Water is needed in the desert, but it is also needed in the whole world.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about two pieces of music that each have a history of making me cry.
The first is a chant written by River Roberts for an event in 2007. That was my first year of being an ‘official’ member of Diana’s Grove Mystery School after having attended a handful of events the year before. I distinctly remember this one as the first chant that felt like it was speaking directly to me. It’s really quite beautiful:
Let my breath be a gift to you
Take me home again
Let my bones be a gift to you
Take me home again
Let my blood be a gift to you
Take me home again
Let my life be a gift to you
Take me home again
Cradled in the arms of life
Take me home again
I don’t remember very much about that ritual from 2007, but I clearly recall the group scattered about the ritual area, each person singing this chant – this offering, really – on their own before coming back together around the fire, all of our voices joining together in that stunningly beautiful way that makes me forget, for a while, that I can’t sing for crap.
The other song that’s been running through my head lately is, of all things, a church hymn that I remember singing in my youth. Even at my most cynical points as a teenager (and they were rather epic, I must admit) there was this one hymn that I kind of dreaded because it always, always brought tears to my eyes. It’s called “Here I am, Lord” and while I don’t remember the verses reliably, the chorus is pretty clear:
Here I am, Lord, is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead* me
I will hold your people in my heart
I never really *believed* most of what was taught by the priests and CCD teachers at Sacred Heart (my mom was the parish’s religious education director for at least 15 years, so let’s not tell her that part), though I invested a lot of time there – first as an altar boy and later a lector. I didn’t feel called to do those things because I was moved to do so by some great religious belief, but rather because they were things that needed doing and I knew that I could do them well. It was never service to god, but perhaps I saw it as service to that community. I wouldn’t have put it those terms back then, but looking at it now I realize that my pattern of, “I care about this group, and here’s a way that I can serve,” was on its way to being established even then.
It’s interesting to me that these two songs strike such a similar chord for me. My introduction to each couldn’t have been more different – the hymn in the staid, hierarchical Roman Catholic church, the chant in the context of ecstatic ritual in the woods. But of course, the message I take from each is similar. To me they’re both about service, about offering one’s gifts to whatever greater power one chooses to believe in. While the elemental flavor of the chant hits much closer to home for me on a, “This is more literally what I believe” level these days, the sentiments in each touch me in very similar, emotional ways.
(* When I went to doublecheck my memory of the hymn, it turns out that I had this line wrong. Somewhere in the last 20 years, the version in my head shifted this from “…if you lead me” to “if you need me.” I find that change very telling. I don’t much like being led by the universe, but being needed? Well, let’s just say that if a pair of robots showed up at my door with a recorded message from a friend saying, “Help me, Jason-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” I’d find it difficult to say no.)
After a long day at work yesterday followed by a lovely dinner with a friend, I went home to unwrap my new deck. I’ll admit to a little trepidation as I pulled out the cards. While I’ve done a few exercises with tarot cards in the past, I’ve never really felt like I had any particular insight into the per se. The specter of, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” crops up for me fairly often, even when it has no particular reason to make an appearance. That voice was quietly present last night.
I mixed up the cards by the simple expedient of dumping them on my bed and shuffling them about for several minutes. I’ve talked to folks who say that they are often (or at least occasionally) drawn to a particular card when shuffling, but that didn’t happen for me this time. I was about to pull a card when I remembered that it might be useful to, you know, have a question to focus on for the draw.
Hey, I’m new at this. 🙂
After a bit of reflection, I decided that the most honest question on my mind at that moment was something like, “What do I need to know about this writing project I’m starting?” Not the most life-altering question, but it felt right in the moment. Some more shuffling, and then…
First impressions: Thank goodness the first draw wasn’t one of the Majors. What little I “know” about the Tarot is really focused on those cards, and I suspect I will find it more difficult to set aside those preconceptions and focus exclusively on the card for those than I will for non-majors. Non-court cards will be the easiest, I imagine, so I was grateful to have pulled one of those to start with.
About the card: So what I’m seeing here is three people in what appears to be a church, cathedral or monestary of some sort. One of them is standing on a bench and wearing what looks to me like a workman’s apron, and I imagine if he were facing the other way I would see a few tools arranged there. Standing nearby are two other folks. one of them is clearly either a monk or someone blessed with a love of brown robes and the kind of hair style that I will have in a few short years. The other is rocking a fabulous orange robe. The gender of this third character is unknown, but I noticed that my mind filled in “female” immediately for some reason. Given the setting, I want to say that it’s a nun from an order with a great sense of humor, fashion-wise.
The Orange Nun is holding what scans to me like a set of plans for the cathedral/church/whatever. I really like the level of detail in the image, here – there’s just enough to make it pretty clear that that’s what it is, with just a few lines on the parchment she’s holding.
The story without words: My gut read here is that the guy on the bench is talking over his work with the other two. I imagine that he’s pretty busy, given that he’s still working while they talk about it. What’s interesting to me is that my initial feeling is one of empathy for the worker, as if there’s something going on here…not an argument, necessarily, but a discussion about whether or not he’s manifesting the plans as expected.
But what does it mean?: Looking at it through the lens of my question, I’m struck by my assumption that there must be some conflict going on here between the “vision” and the “implementation”, between the planners and the artisan. There’s nothing in the image to directly suggest that (nothing I’m seeing consciously, anyway) but I went there awfully quickly. If all of the characters in the card are me (my double Leo self LOVES that idea, by the way), then there’s a pretty clear parallel with my discomfort around actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) when I’m not sure if I’ll be able to bring what I have in mind into the world as I had originally hoped. I’m really wondering what I’d see if I had drawn this card with a different question in mind. Would I have seen three people collaborating over a shared vision instead of the tension between vision and action? Interesting stuff.
So, there we have it. First card drawn, first rambling post complete. Success!
So, um. Welcome, to the tens of people who might at some point read this. How’s it going?
It should be noted, I think, that sometimes I struggle to find clever things to say when I begin writing. It should also be noted that this affliction often continues well past the beginning.
As 2011 winds down, I realize that I feel adrift in some important ways. Adrift, and somewhat scattered. There are reasons for each that I will likely natter on about at some length sooner rather than later, but for now I’ll simply say that these things are true, and leave it at that.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to craft some kind of a regular intentional practice. I’m not sure I’ll call it a spiritual practice, because that term feels like I should be doing something more important than rambling in a blog (even if it is a blog whose title and URL that I spent an embarrassing amount of time pondering). So it’s not that I don’t feel like this is an important thing – I do…or at least I feel like it can be potentially important. My reluctance hasn’t been a lack of motivation, exactly, but rather a nagging, irrational worry that one of two things will happen. Those worrisome things include:
- When I inevitably fail to meet my internal standards for said practice (and really, it is inevitable that I will do so at some point), I will feel shame for my momentous failure and simply cease trying.
- Regardless of my success or failure, I can’t help but wonder if anything I try to manifest along these lines will really be important. It somehow feels like such a thing should be something…I don’t know. Momentous, I guess, and I don’t particularly imagine myself doing that.
I’ll avoid the “spiritual practice” label, then, because…well, just because. But an intentional practice –that feels like something that can be important to me even if it isn’t Important in the larger sense. This past weekend, I came up with the rather surprising idea of doing a regular tarot draw, just one card, and writing about that card, what it says to me, and the process of doing this regularly.
Why tarot? Well, that’s a little complicated. I’m kind of surrounded by people who know more about the tarot than I do (which is to say, they reliably know more than, “Hey, that’s a pretty picture,” which is about where I am much of the time). I certainly have no great insight into the tool, and I’m not particularly drawn to develop any deep expertise in it. Like astrology, or personality tests, or any of a number of other predictive or descriptive tools, I think there’s a lot of “eye of the beholder” going on here. With tarot cards, as well, there’s also the inherent randomness of shuffling the cards and drawing one. While journaling a bit about this notion over the weekend, I wrote:
“The universe is random, but my soul is not. A single card drawn from a deck of 78 is random, but what I see in that card is not.”
Or, you know, maybe it is. I have no idea what I’ll find to be true for me here, whether I’ll develop a deep appreciation for the cards or uncover a hidden talent for interpreting them (that, I can pretty much assure you, will not happen) or if I’ll simply get a couple of weeks into the process and say, “Huh. It turns out I really don’t know anything about this after all. What a completely unsurprising development!”
In any case, I’m kind of excited to get started. Of course, I somehow managed to forget the fact that I don’t actually own a tarot deck of my own. I could borrow one, I suppose (there are at least 3 in my household that I can think of) but I don’t know. It feels like if I’m going to be writing about some number of cards before I get distracted by a shinier project, I should own a deck. Last night, I visited that great home for spiritual development, the Commonwealth of Amazonia, and ordered a deck (standard Rider-Waite deck, for anyone who’s curious. I know there are a lot of other options out there (many of them freaking beautiful) but I know that I tend to process visual information pretty literally, so simple is better for this guy.) As I am a Prime Member of the Amazonian Commonwealth, said deck is winging its way to me as we speak and should arrive tomorrow evening.