(aka "Evolution Tell-All")
Back in my early years, it seemed common to enter college right out of high school (after a summer in between). I don't know the sociological statistics about how prevalent that was then as compared to now but that's my memory. University was usually far enough from home commuting was not an option. One lived on campus or locally to the school.
The truth, as I see it, we all live on campus, no matter where and when we are, at the University of Lifetime Learning and Hard Knocks (go Knights!* ).
*yeah, like I ever said “go anything,” but do you have a mascot?
Everyone progresses at different rates, through various programs of study, Maybe an extremely deep-long dive through one field or perhaps more accumulating a wide palette of degrees. The truth, as I see it, we matriculate at birth and graduate as we exit this life, no exceptions. What happens in between is largely up to us.
The trouble (or one trouble), as I see it, how easy it is for acclimation, entrainment (spell check suggests entrancement, that works too), entropy, the “media” and the like to settle in. Complacency, couch potato-dom; curiosity wanes, the interest gaze dims. How many PhDs shrivel unborn, uncompleted?
Yes, this is me pontificating. There is, most assuredly, so much I don't see, don't know and frankly have forgotten. Really, all I've got is my story. This story is on my mind as I feel to be at a major life node. Perhaps you're at one too, anticipate or remember one. We all get to this point and if we're lucky, it's from time to time. Mine is an interesting intersection staged with at least a couple Lifetime Learning master's equivalencies under my belt. Oh how they let me think I know how it all works, what the various parts are and who's involved. Great, I'm ready to put that self-study PhD together!
Well, here's where the intersection part comes in. Often intersections come in the form of a plot twist. Honestly, where would we be without plot twists? We really wouldn't learn a darn thing otherwise. Plot twists are board exams in the guise of pop quizzes. Bang! Stand and deliver, NOW! Then you can move on to that next plan.
Well, guess what? While you were standing and delivering, the Facilities Department was hard at work, changing all the rooms, landscaping and furniture. They also may have torn down old buildings, re-routed the pathways and put up new structures. Did I mention a completely different cast of characters?
How supple do you feel now, after that intensive in Couch Potato? Adapt to Adept is the trajectory. Acclimated to how things used to be, can you bring what you've learned, as well application creativity to make your way ahead? Here's one of Life's Great Arts, the ability to be present with what is and maintain effective relationship with what was and what will be. “Define effective in this context, please.” Sure: connecting to past and future without being held captive by them. “Define Arts?” To quote the Kenny Rogers song, “...know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.”
Okay, an elaborate way to say we're all really just making it up as we go along. Make yours the very best you can! Why not? HERE'S THE TELL-ALL PART:
I got a little enlightenment today about myself. And this is “got” in terms of light bulb finally blinking on over my head rather than my Amazon delivery showed up.
It's been coming on for a while now, noticing changes in how my hands work. At first an irritation, an annoyance. It would have been so easy to simply stop there and let my hands take a new role as adversary rather than facilitator. Or in my husband's words, “easier if it would make a difference.” Yes, we use language quite differently. I really don't want to go to war with myself or treat a part of me as recalcitrant. No good can come.
It honestly took longer that I care to admit for the connection to spark up that light bulb and bring a bit of enlightenment. I've made my way through life by my hands. Many decades now. Professional and avocational. Work and fun. I knew this but the new news was, they're TIRED!!! And here's me expecting them to continue as they have been, frankly without complaining or even a little gratitude.
Well, that's not right, is it? Time for some creative changes and care compassion. So there's my homework in the new curriculum, find ways to adjust who and how I am that encompass great consideration for these valiantly long-serving hands. Dontcha think they're worth it?
About time, I say! Let's stay in the long game.
MAGIC IS A-FOOT
But that was my personal atmosphere as I set out to the big (or what passes for big in our world these days) city of Salem MA. About a month precious Steve pointed out an upcoming Tarot Circle that seemed like such a good idea! I'd resumed active engagement with the Tarot recently after a long hiatus and I was ready to sniff around to find out about the local scene. Well, the appointed day finally arrived and didn't you know, there were the voices, singing about the tug of tucking up at home on a raw winter's day. Well, nested home is a great place to return, so I headed off, nevertheless.
In moments like this, a friend's words often ring in my memory's ear, “when the door opens, it opens wide.” This day, no exception. Warmly welcomed into a group that turned out to be a supportive, sassy, hilarious, goofy family. There were a dozen of us, mostly newcomers with several of the venue's facilitators and compatriots. Also there was 6-month old Oliviana and Bast. The real Bast, not a companion or working animal named Bast. I ended up sitting in the queen corner, next to Bast. And as it turned out, I was received like a queen. Stunned, me, although I did hear those voices say “like the Queen I am.” They're something, those voices. I think the fairies sent them. Still acclimating to this statement, but really, it's time.
Everyone was invited to enter a question for the cards. Each question was picked randomly and read for all to take turns drawing and reading cards around the circle. Sometimes we went in order and sometimes zigzag was the order! A variety of experiences and facilities with Tarot wove a rich brocade, readings given in truth and heart. Oh yes, magic was there, chiming in a couple times, most notably when an inactive remote speaker suddenly reminded us it was time to charge the battery. Just as we were speaking with one of those high-functioning Wonder Women, such impeccable timing. Synchrony and inter-connections moved former strangers to fast friends. My handwriting evoked someone's dear Aunt Linda who'd previously passed over? Believe it!
Then Magic said to me, hold on, here's something else. A bunch of women who are Maison Vampyre thought I'd be well-matched to another Salem venue as a card reader and they could get that ball a little starting spin. Wait, what? Me? Huh? Wow! In the moment stunned to be named and so ready to jump up to the call.
Floating out, a moment with a turmeric latte seemed like a prudent and helpful thing to get me through the airlock down from refined elevation back to everyday things like navigating home. Last time I'd had a turmeric latte was in Bath, England, another place Magic reigns.
Okay, driving, okay, making my way back home which also happens to be an enchanted village but never mind. Hitting small town Wenham, my photographer's eye noticed a sublimely delicate and subtle ombre color gradation in what most would call a heavily overcast sky. Just coming into view as well, an Olde New England local church spire, its white played artfully against the sky. I drove, one eye on the road and one on the sky, waiting for the optimal photo perspective to line up. Stopping, getting out on the middle of Rt 1A with less than desirable photo equipment not feasible. Besides, way too many power lines in the view and I'm practicing letting go of the missed shot. Again, cue impeccable timing, a chevron of wild geese crossed in perfect composition, moving from further afield on the left toward nearby on the right. Be still my heart and let the visual endorphins run! I took an iconic message of returning to something from the past as I move into the future.
As they say, But Wait, There's More! As the scene passed and my gaze came back down fully to the road, a banner on the front of the church caught my eye. “Be A Blessing.” It was a few miles later I was able to pull over at a favorite field spot to get out and give thanks to the six directions. Then home safely. The living Tarot.
That was Saturday afternoon. Then there was Sunday. Mr Magoo (props given for connecting me with Maison Vampyre and our Sunday event) earlier on had a bit of mild gastric disharmony but was harmonious enough to venture out. This time to the wilds of South Hamilton MA to hear original music from local musicians, The Orchestra On the Hill. Don't let local and original mislead you. The concert proved to exceed the best one could imagine. Creativity abounded in a stunning venue, a place for sacred services and appointed as such. The afternoon was well-placed indeed.
All senses were served though the concert. And in concert the participants were, with images to see, sounds emanating from a variety of loci throughout the grand room, players changing positions, rarefied harmonics, thoughtful and deft craftsmanship and instruments played solo and in collaboration with innovation. Why not? We do because we can. We do because we think of it. We do because it's what's in our hearts and spirits to express.
And clearly, Heart was at the Heart of it all. Heart played like a master. Heart spoke the truth through the composers. Heart had the vision. Heart moved through space. And each Heart embraced all others.
This group relies on the kindness of others in order for them to return so much kindness back. Grants, yes, but also donations and volunteers make up the sustenance as performances are offered freely without charge to the audience. A few sponsors offered up gifts for auction during the festivities. At intermission, a spur of the moment peek yielded a sawbuck for me to buy one ticket. Winners were announced just before the second half commenced. I'd selected a bag of goodies from a local gourmet shop we've yet to explore. And when this prize's time came up, no one claimed the number. A second ticket chosen, wait, what? That's me! Won on a chance, isn't that how it goes, just as if by magic.
And Sunday's afternoon closed out with another sky event. Heavy overcast had continued from the day before, even with a few snow flurries earlier. Coming out to head home, we could just see sunset as a brilliant orange swath on the western horizon, just beyond the edge of our overcast. Sunset's color-play showed through that strip through the ride home, simply illustrating more apparent magic.
Two remarkable days almost eclipsed a remarkable week leading up to them. Suffice to say, a call came, I stepped up and did up. The call eventually expanded and so did my efforts. In particular, I was asked to bring energy work to help a cat in another state. The connection was through the Tong Ren community, a type of energy work that uses the acupuncture system in unique ways. So that's how I structured my efforts, although I believe Tong Ren is primarily used with people. No reason to not use it here, though. My finished product would be a video available to be watched at any time. For a couple days during my research and development stage I started using a distance Reiki and Tong Ren hybrid to help me find the best way to connect with and adapt for a feline temperament. The cat's person reported positive and desirable changes as soon as I started the distance work, confirming my experience. As the days went on, the call to this particular work expanded as I recalled a viewer of one of my previous Tong Ren videos had requested one to address a specific situation. The postings of a friend updating his health journey inspired me to extend another video in contribution for him and his healing effort. And so the almost-forgotten and the un-asked for were gathered up into this work too.
Who's to say, but I do believe we all live on a two-way street. As the great Tai Ji concept (Yin Yang) holds me in a sense of security, I believe there is ultimate balance through reciprocation. From this video project I learned and gained a tremendous amount. May my efforts generate at least that much out again.
Magic is afoot. All the time, although we can easily miss it. This past week evoked a song from long ago, “God is Alive and Magic is Afoot,” recorded by Buffy Sainte Marie and co-written with Leonard Cohen.
Sometimes thoughts bubble up, don't they? Silly, thoughtful, insightful, unsettling, trivial, all manner of neural activity runs through the head office. Most, it turns out, not worth the air molecules they ride forth on. Today there's one I'm going to venture, even though I'm not confident it's totally true and if it really matters. More on that later, though. Please excuse any theoretical gaffes and rank errors, they are my own. I'm only telling my story.
“There's precious little out there that's NOT up to each of us to figure out for ourselves.”
My short answers are Yes and Because Why Not?
I've come to the conclusion human experience of this life is founded on stories. All of it, stories. Don't get me wrong, I'm not casting aspersions on the word or concept “stories.” Storytelling is an ancient, ancient human impulse as to who we are and how we do in this life. But for what purposes, stories, really? More than simple entertainment to pass a winter's night? Doubtful, more like a way to make sense of and find comfort in our place on this rock.
I think looking at some context is helpful. Yes, I am aware I'm going down the story road here, please forgive me, but language is what I've got to work with. The context I'm evoking is both ancient and modern, although I have to give the nod to the ancients as they got there first without fancy equipment. It has been called by various names over the years, like The Dao, Buddhism's Nothingness, Brahman, and Quantum Field. All evoke a state of primordial undifferentiated all-potential, or at least they do as I understand these things. Seems everyone agrees though, whatever “this” is cannot be named and therefore not really understood. That's our foundation.
So, the context is our manifest experience is rooted in occult truly non-perceivable possibility. Anything can happen, even beyond your wildest imagination. That's All. Ok, kinda vast, unwieldy and no real comfort that it's all okay. Let's see if we can organize our thoughts and experiences in a way that meaningfully has power to keep Fear from the door. Presto, stories! But isn't Fear like a virus, searching for sustenance and morphing in response to challenge along the way? Presto, change-o, more stories! And so on. House of cards stories.
Time passes, time passes, and we are in the here and now. The fact that all we've really got is the here and now is another conversation; please grant me this exemption for the moment.
The past few years here as humans on Gaia are summed up in an image for me. The Grand Staircase of Life that we're all traversing, working our way to a grand entrance somewhere, has suddenly and most unceremoniously flattened out. Risers and treads flattened out into a Grand Slide of Life. And as you know, gravity (and the house) always wins. Whee! We are on the very fast track to Next and we have no idea what that is. Seems precious little in the stories we already know is helpful now in this new game of Chutes and Ladders, long on Chutes these days.
Yeah, we are all frantically making it up as we go along. Both the Ancients and Moderns agree, what we consider as reality is but a product of our mind. Not the collective mind, mind you, but our each and every individual perceptive perspective. This is why I say there's precious little that's not up to each of us to figure out. Nota bene, it's so my own nature to leave space for opportunity or alternate possibility which is why I say, “precious little” instead of “absolutely nothing.” Feel free to go there yourself, I doubt you'd be wrong!
I do have a request. Make your coming Story the best it can be, true and honest for your self. This way, we all raise the bar because goodness knows, we don't really want it any lower. And be kind to others while you're at it.
Thank You One and All
I hear tell, and it feels like it too, how many folks are saying we're (humanity) right up to a grand denouement. Doesn't matter the context or perspective, they all are saying the same thing. The piper's gotta be paid, he's been playing for a really long time and he's not cheap. In other words, big changes afoot now. I have my sets of changes in my little personal circle; who doesn't? Perhaps my own cautionary tale can illuminate yours. Word to the wise: take illumination where you find it!
You may have noticed I'm doing a lot with Tarot lately. Even though I must have first picked it up about 50 years ago, it's just this year my engagement with it has deepened significantly as I understand the power is not within the cards themselves but they serve to bring up our deeper stories (and please include Jung's Collective Unconscious and Joseph Campbell's reminder of mythic and cultural ancient tales). To borrow and adapt astrologer Steve Judd's phrase, the cards don't compel, they impel. Here's how I impelled myself this morning after waking to the remarkable rainbow above. Here's the cards I drew.
Here's the set up, a two-card spread from Sheilaa Hite called I AM.
Left-hand card is "Who I Think I Am," right-hand card is "Who I Really Am."
I'm using the Waite Smith Rider deck as I can freely put the images here. I also have a fondness for it.
My question is "how can I reframe my self-narrative to be my truest self as I evolve through age?
Following is how I tell the story the cards bring up for me.
I think I am “done for.” Old narrative, in place for many years: the world becomes real for me through my hands. Many years. Truth is, my hands no longer function in the ways I'd become so accustomed to and certainly relied on (meaning took for granted). That “truth” increasingly an irritant provoking anger at my poor hands as the problem wasn't me. Of course.
So now what, is it all finished and over? Of course not. The rest of me says it's too late to stop as “we're just getting started!” Clearly, whoever the person was, in this 10 of Swords image, is done, finished and quite over. If you don't catch that from the main image itself (swords along the spine from stem to stern), the number 10 and the primordial black cloud under which nothing moves give big hints. Swords bring the energy of discernment and judgement, understanding what is and what isn't true. Clearly this is the mindset I'd been using, Who I Think I Am.
But guess, what, here's the answer to the question in the 2 of Wands and Who I Really Am. A person (ok, me) stands in between two poles of living wood. Isn't this the very nature of transition, to move from one pole to another? I stand on the precipice, gazing out over what's to come, holding on with one hand to the past. And what's in the other hand? Oh, simply the Whole World! And look, ready to be grabbed is another pole of “arbor vitae,1” ready to lend support in the future. Numerology reminds us 2 is the beginning of movement as we start to move beyond the self. Wands evoke new ideas and growth, initiating change. Gazing out over a grand vista, where land and sea meet with the world in hand, well, there's a lot of potential!
You may ask why the sky here in the 2 of Wands is not a pleasant uplifting blue if this is such a nice scene evoking hope? I think that's because it's still early days here and nothing's decided. Grey is the middle ground, neither light nor dark. It's up to the individual to carry on and discover how the sky lights up over time. I personally find a sense of comfort and security in the warm brown of the poles and the clothing. That's where I see hope in this card in this moment. Remember, not compelling but impelling, we all have a big say in what and how we do our lives.
So the answer is, it's literally and figuratively in my hands how I move into what's to come. It will be different, that's for sure. One of the nice things about the “A-word” (Ageing) is the wealth of wisdom won through experience (no matter where you are on your trajectory). Once we've figured out some things about how life works for us, we put that knowledge in place as guiding navigation. And if we're somewhat smart and a bit lucky, this program holds us in good stead for many miles, recalibrating as we learn. And isn't that a trap we can easily fall into? We're so invested in that original program script we lose suppleness of response to sudden plot twists. Eventually a big enough storm comes along to seriously challenge our equipment and operating systems. How easily can you bend, crouch and stretch mind and body to compose that new story?
I'm working on mine!
1 Clearly not species Thuja, I'm using the phrase for its “tree of life” meaning.
Current and popular use of “manifestation” seems to be within the context of abundantly geeting what you want, especially without really having to work for it. Or it could simply be wishing for something other than what one has/is at the moment, and please let it be here now! Manifestation, from the Latin manifestus: palpable, clear (etc). So yes, bringing or coming into existence, as in I want to manifest more dollars in my bank account. Nothing wrong with that, but let's look a little deeper and see what else is under the surface.
Ms McArthur's suit cards are illustrated with pips rather than evocative images. No pictures worth a thousand words but each card does in fact have a prompting keyword. Decks of yore bore pips, does that mean our Tarot forebears ascribed simple, un-complex significance to the minor arcana? I personally doubt it, although that is the way in which I choose to imagine the answer. Tarot historians and scholars may have something quite different to contribute and I do welcome continued conversation on the way to discovery. Nevertheless, in the here and now, individual subjective response to cards is more the fashion, especially as I assume most of us use decks fully illustrated. Here's what I've got.
The Body Tarot1 is an ambitious work, integrating Tarot with Traditional Chinese Medicine precepts. Suits are transformed from four elements to five, leaving out court individuals to avoid an unwieldy number of cards (again, my assumumption). Chinese cosmology names five fundamental elements, Wood Fire Earth Metal Water. Pairing up Cups and Water is a no-brainer, right? So how does Manifestation fit in? We have the old adages You Are What You Eat and You Are What You Think. What an easy slide into You Are What You Feel. Ooh, and just ahead is Be Careful What You Wish For! Manifestation, in its most powerful aspect, comes from within. And what is within? Why, simply the sum of who we are: acting, eating, thinking and feeling humans. Manifestation is truly a reflection of ourselves, much truer than any mirror.
Why is Manifestation linked with the nine of pips here? Humans' primary relationship with numbers is with the base ten scheme as in two hands, five fingers each. It's how we're built. Our ancestors, premier storytellers they were, originated narratives of progression through numbers, describing human spiritual experience and development. Nine, in the penultimate place, is the stage wherein all has been experienced and it's the moment of truth. One has hopefully learned enough to sufficiently and successfully navigate this threshold in order to graduate to the next cycle.
Nine of Water, Manifestation, then is about what comes forth from the totality of yourself. What have you wrought and is that indeed your Truth? Make it a good one, make it your Best!
1 Published 2022 by CICO Books of Ryland Peters & Small Ltd, London and New York. Website accessed 10/28/2022
Here's the Nine of Cups from the Smith Waite Rider deck. The Body Tarot is copyrighted and I don't have permission and it's simply the pips anyway. This individual here is quite all set in the quantity manifestation category, isn't he?
Understanding, Knowing, even Owning the Tarot's Wisdom comes through all our senses and deepens through time experience. It's less intellectual nimbleness and more immersive experience of an otherworldly realm. As my own Tarot experience ripens, I pulled one card from the Majors to help me along in the journey. And as it so often happens, who's surprised at what card shows? I take Fool's hand and we head toward what's to come.
Many believe what is going to happen will happen anyway. There are some who say we are all victims of ourselves (and yes, what was once a clever quip eventually came home to roost, believe me). You might gather I allow for both determinism and free will. I'd say one of the major arts of life is wending your way among both, much like Fool. To what degree are any of us able to effectively oversee ourselves? How broad, wide and dispassionate are our perceptions? How clearly can we tune into our wholistic story?
It's said history belongs to the victors; they're the ones who get to tell the story. If we understand anything about the Tarot, we get that it accommodates multiple congruent stories and universes. By tradition, Fool starts and/or ends the Major Arcana group, essentially bookending his or her (or your!) own story. That makes sense, doesn't it? We're there when we come to life and when we depart. Fool is assigned the number “0,” a symbol worth a thousand words if there ever was one. “0” contains All, all we ever know, ever do, ever believe, ever experience.
MJ Cullaine's Guardian of the Night deck brings us the Fool's scene as a tableau set in the natural world. A wolf intently approaches a rabbit on a frozen pond. The ice is beginning to give under wolf's weight, rabbit is well-supported for the moment. Wolf's attention is on rabbit, not really on personal safety. Rabbit, as they so often appear to me, is at once impassively quiet yet intensely present to the moment. So which represents Fool here? Wolf ventures into potential danger, awareness otherwise directed. Rabbit has let danger come close in an exposed environment, no refuge in sight. Yes, rabbits are extremely adept at bounding away in a flash, but in the moment we're shown, that flash is not nigh. There is no hint of clear victor, no definitive outcome clearly sussed to be set in the stone of history's story. And isn't that the point? “0” never ends, it has no real shape, it encompasses All. More about personal safety later.
But isn't “0” empty? You may well ask. Here's how some of our smarty-pants ancient ancestors thought about it (we know this from the Old Ways of thinking and creation explanations). Preceding existence there is a state of all potential, albeit totally undifferentiated. Think of a miasma without any substance that contains all the raw materials and plans for Everything that could possibly Be. Anything could happen, no holds barred, and by golly, something does happen. Something Becomes. Let's leave the conversation about whose, if indeed there is even a whose, intention drives Becoming for another time. I think I'd need to go into training for that one and I'll need some lead time. Anyway, a world, a universe, a multiverse, a whatever precipitates out from this emptiness, this apparently empty state of all potential. So, yes, if you're talking beans to be counted, an absense of beans is zero and “0” serves. But if you're talking Tarot, “0” is the Fool stepping out into that vast undifferentiated place of all possibility. It only seems empty to our human senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching – more later on this). Smith Waite Rider's Fool is classically at the precipice in mid-stride. Ciro Marchetti's (Tarot Grand Luxe) Fool steps out into an empty flat expanse. Coincidently Marchetti's Fool looks down from the heavens upon him/herself, adding an interdimensionality I just love.
This same Tarot Grand Luxe Fool wears an elaborate headdress. That got me looking at what was happening regarding Fool's heads in the other decks, wondering about symbolism pointing to extra sensory perceptions. Sure enough, SWR's Fool sports a jaunty red plume and there are Little Red Riding Hood-worthy ears in Guardian of the Night's Fool (especially rabbit's ears, of course). ESP, all the “-clairs” (clairvoyant, clairaudient, claircognizent, etc) help us humble humans a bit more deeply sense the true nature of “0.”
And this image of gazing down upon oneself, overseeing how and who we are from a different perspective. Illuminating, isn't it, like catching a glimpse of yourself reflected in a window across the way. At once embodied and en-spirited, here and there. The Rider deck's Fool has an air of simultaneous self and not-self. Even the great Tai Ji symbol (yin/yang) presents unity and duality. We assume we know what's going to happen and sometimes we do get lucky, riding on the Wheel of Fortune. How often are we surprised at the turn of the wheel (and so events)? Many ask: is there not an ever-shifting entire new universe born each moment as the old one passes away, all within the span of a breath, a heartbeat? Think about what stories humans tell about evolution, how changes come about through generations of DNA and of humans, even the simple party game Telephone. How those stories ride changing tides of human beings! Some stories update frequently, some hold steady through time.
Before I forget, a few words about personal safety, one of our deepest primal instincts. Something (we may or may not understand what) draws The Fool ever onward, even beyond the cognizant thought of keeping life and limb intact. Fool at the precipice, Wolf on thin ice. Whenever I've been at the edge of a vast space, there's been an unexpected draw, a quiet but steady idea of how nice it would be to join the vast power within the apparent emptiness. Niagara Falls, Kilauea caldera, an out-cropping near Whiteface Mountain. Clearly I declined the invitation, but they were compelling moments wherein a conscious choice was needed. Is it the attunement to a beckoning call from power spots that is The Fool? Ulysses never stood a chance with the Sirens.
Change and same, they interact more intimately than yin and yang. The persistence of morphologies and memories. The rhythms of Gaia's spin. Is the Grand Canyon but a toddler or an ancient crone? By what measure? The Fool glides eternally through change as the same, yes? So each succeeding moment, thought, action is creation in action (another concept well-known to the Ancestors, no new news here), doesn't that mean we need to bring our own creativity in kind? You are your own performance artist after all.
And this is how the Fool A-Mused me for a while.
Linda S Davis
Sometimes I have fun pushing thoughts and words around.