May 312010

Preparing for a Tarot meditation session on the Lovers, it struck me:  the invitation of the Lovers is to look. 

The card’s call is as simple and as challenging as looking.  On the simple end of the continuum, something comes into our awareness, we see (or touch or taste) it, and move on.  In these times, we always seem to be on the move as we:  read the ticker tape headline news at the bottom of the TV screen; eat our breakfast muffins while driving in the car; glance at the sunsets before running into the house to make dinner. 

But a deeper looking is possible and described beautifully by the contemplative William McNamara, “People, trees, lakes, mountains. You can study things, but unless you enter into this intuitive communion with them, you can only know about them, you don’t know them. To take a long loving look at something –a child, a glass of wine, a beautiful meal-this is a natural act of contemplation, of loving admiration.” The problem? “All the way through school we are taught to abstract; we are not taught loving awareness.”

This past Friday, I had the epiphany that the deep meaning of the Lovers card is a call to this contemplative awareness, a call for us to take a long loving look.  And I fell in love with the card in a new way.

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May 122010

I lead monthly Tarot meditation sessions where we journey into the cards to meet the wisdom figures there.  This month we focused on the Hierophant and this figure was offering surprises.

 As the card in the Tarot most connected with rules, assigned roles, and established teaching or principles, the Hierophant is not the usual suspect for surprises, but such are the times that we live in that this figure, too, might be breaking out of its box.   As you can see from the Rider-Waite-Smith version of the card, the Hierophant is a figure of authority who works within institutions to pass on established knowledge.  His students listen and receive the information as it is passed to them.  The Hierophant has brought us the gifts of the wisdom of our ancestors, but also has a shadow side of control and domination that limits personal development and insight.

But in recent meditation experiences, the Hierophant seems to be coming in different forms.  In my own meditation, this wisdom figure came to me as a little girl.  (For more on children as wise ones, see my post on Children in the Tarot.)  She laughing led me to a temple hidden in a hillside, really a cave with a light source at its peak.  Another meditation participant had a most unusual figure appear.  The outstanding features were wings and it was hard to discern any kind of body.   In fact, it was impossible to tell if this figure was animal, human, or something else.  But it floated and led her to a temple to complete the work of the meditation.

After the mediation, I began to think about how nearly all of our society institutions are in crisis and flux:  the economy, religion, and the media may be the most obvious examples.  I work with people who do communications for grassroots justice organizations so I hear from them about how the “old” ways (from 10 years ago!) of getting out their messages and reaching the media have absolutely changed.  Newspapers are reduced in size and impact while social / new media has emerged a vital way to reach people. 

We live in Tower times!  And when the old structure is no longer providing societal support, the traditional Hierophant is limited.  He is not a figure to help us to make the leap to the new.

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May 122010

I wondered while gazing upon the Gaian Teacher about what questions the plants pictured might ask us if we could understand their language. I looked at Joanna’s companion book and my own herb books to see their properties as well as drew to mind my experience with these plants. I felt that each plant offered questions to aid us in healing as well as developing self-knowledge and mindfulness.

: We modern humans with lawns are always trying to uproot this plant that has wonderful nourishing qualities and bright sunny flowers. Despite knowing this, I uprooted a few the other day because they had wandered into my Hosta area! So what wisdom does the dandelion have for us and what questions might it ask:

  • Self-Knowledge: What part of me is tenacious and steadfast no matter what confronts me? What am I trying to remove from my life that might actually be helpful to me?
  • Mindfulness: Where is there simple happiness in my life that I need to pay more attention to?
  • Healing: How can I nourish myself after challenging times? How can I keep hope alive within my soul?

Garlic: I love the tangy strength of garlic and feel a surge of good health after a meal cooked with its pungent cloves. Joanna points out that the many layers of the garlic can be seen as a metaphor for the unfolding cosmos.

  • Self-Knowledge: What can help me to put my current life challenges into larger perspective? What stinks in my life right now, but might be making me stronger for the long haul? What is at the hidden center of myself that can give me strength to face the challenges of life?
  • Mindfulness: What area of my life needs strong and focused attention right now?
  • Healing: how can I build up the strength to take on the next challenge of my emotional (or spiritual, or physical, ect) healing?

Nettles: Their outside stingers on leaves and stems guard highly nutritious food and its fibers make strong rope, clothing, and fish nets. Always handle the nettles wearing gloves!

  • Self-Knowledge: If I look beyond my current crankiness, what gifts are being developed below the surface? If I’ve been prickly with people lately, how can I look into the source of this prickliness and bring forth something for the greater good? What can I tie more tightly into the fabric of my life to realize my desires?
  • Mindfulness: What do I need to handle with care right now?
  • Healing: What aspect of my current situation needs to be neutralized so I get through to the gifts?

Comfrey: This plant is also know as All Heal and offers great benefits to bones and muscles. Joanna reports that it is reputed to bring safety while traveling.

  • Self-Knoweldge: Right now what is providing the strongest structure in my life?
  • Mindfulness: What do I need to pay attention to ensure my safety as I travel through my day?
  • Healing: What’s broken in my life right now and demands my attention for healing? What can I do that will provide me with the most important healing in my life right now?

Yarrow: I have yarrow in my yard and love the strong, flat flowers. It is potent against infection, reduces fevers, and staunches the flow of blood from deep cuts. Joanna reminds us that the sticks of the I-Ching are made from yarrow and it is thus connected with divination as well as love and courage.

  • Self-Knowledge: Where is my life is my energy bleeding away? How can I staunch the flow?
  • Mindfulness: What should I pay attention to at this time to gain greater connection to the Divine?
  • Healing: How can I “cool down” from feeling “burnt out” or working at a “fevered pitch?” What can I do to prevent a small annoyance in my life from growing and “infecting” my whole life?

Wow, these little plants offer us many deep questions for living in times of change.

You can combine these questions into a spread that has a theme. I, for example, put together a Five Green Allies for Self-Knowledge Spread. I, of course, used the Gaian Tarot cards with this spread.

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