Tag Archives: The Wild Unknown

Life Rehab Resources: Divination

liferehabresourcesI confess, when I realized this morning that it was Saturday, and that meant I needed to write one of these posts, I thought “oh crap.” Last week, I was sure I knew what I was going to tell you about today, but this morning it no longer seemed like the right thing, even though I was going to make myself write about it anyway if nothing else came up. Then when I was shuffling my tarot cards this morning, it came to me: divination.

Divination, from the Latin divanare, which is “to foresee, to be inspired by a god,” related to divinus, divine, is “the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a standardized process or ritual, a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand.” It’s a way of making sense, uncovering wisdom, accessing insight, developing intuition, seeing meaning, finding patterns, knowing. It is an invitation to the Universe, the Divine, Light, Love, God, whatever you call it, a way of saying “help me out, give me a sign, show me the way.” It is part prayer, part practice, magic and medicine.

I love all kinds of divination practice — picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards, Q-Cards, or any such oracle through which the Universe might send me a message. Opening a book to a random page and reading a line of poetry with the expectation that there’s a message for me, taking a walk and asking for a truth to be revealed — it’s a choice to trust in something bigger, to believe I am connected, can communicate with a deep and eternal wisdom.

I know there are those who consider it a dark art, of the devil, and it probably can be if that’s your intention, but I believe it’s a way of communicating directly with God (whatever name you use for this wise and compassionate energy). It’s like prayer, opening my heart and listening deeply for answers to my questions, a way of requesting guidance.

As I’ve said before when I’ve talked about this, go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, and even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.

Divination is something I practice every day, in one form or another. Some of my favorite practices, resources and tools are:

  • The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck. It took me 20 years to get another tarot deck, after losing my first. People I love and respect use this one, and there was just something about it that spoke to me — the dark hand drawn lines, the bright colors, the story of the artist, a business “founded on the belief that there is a place of wonder, gentle beauty, and clarity within each of us.” I’ve been working with this deck daily for about three months. Sometimes it’s frustrating, because it will keep giving me cards I don’t want, messages I’d rather not hear. Other times, it keeps giving me the same card, over and over, and it’s a little freaky to be honest. Then there are times where the card it offers me is exactly the grace I needed.

wildunknowneightofswords

  • Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards. In this practice, you get clear about your intention and pull a card. The resulting card is your Deva. Hiro describes Devas this way:

Every creation on Earth that serves an evolutionary purpose has a spiritual counterpart in the subtle energy realms. This counterpart is a being who holds the pattern or blueprint for the perfect unfolding of the life in its care. I call these pattern-holders Devas…a Sanskrit word that means Shining Ones…As you get to know them and deepen your relationship with them, you can choose to partner with them consciously, to create your life, your business, and the world in which you want to live…Because you are an incarnate soul, all of these soul qualities are already within you, as seeds or potentials. Some of these qualities may be well-developed and readily accessible to you. Others may need to be strengthened and cultivated, for you to experience and express them more fully.

  • Qcards. They don’t make this deck anymore, which is a like a light-hearted tarot deck, but you can still find the online version, where you can pick three cards that describe where you are now or your “longterm” forecast, or you can ask a question. I like these because they are sort of silly, have a sense of humor, but are not devoid of insight.
  • I Ching. I have my own set of coins and three books I use to help me interpret them: a copy of I Ching: The Chinese Book of Changes by Clae Waltham that was printed in 1969, The Buddhist I Ching by Chih-hsu Ou-i and translated by Thomas Cleary, and The Photographic I Ching, which is my favorite of the three.

I’ve pulled cards for myself, but never had someone else read for me. Rachael’s radiant, gentle presence in the world made me trust her to do so. Our reading began with her warm welcome, calm and comforting, opening a space that hummed with possibility and intention. She showed up, was wholly present for the process, allowing whatever might arise, a kind guardian of what came, never getting in its way. As she interpreted the wisdom of the cards, Rachael made the most compassionate offering, shining a light on obstacles and opportunities alike, leaving me with a sense of clarity and peacefulness that has stayed with me. I felt encouraged and empowered by the new insights, and am grateful for the ease and joy Rachael brought to the experience.

reading

  • The creative process, practice, is a kind of divination for me — showing up, being open to whatever arises. It also assumes a connection to divinity, embodies the intention to do sacred work, to be a blessing.

The thing I most want to tell you about divination is don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right to you, if you don’t find it helpful or have trouble trusting it, (actually, I’d tell you that about just about anything). However, if you do feel the pull, keep looking until you find the right form for you, the best fit. These are my favorites, but there are so many others, and something else might work better for you.

Day of Rest

This is one of those posts where I show up to write having no idea what I’m going to say. And yet, I can feel something there, see it like I would a shape in the fog, moving towards me but as yet unnameable.

Eric is walking Sam this morning, or rather running with him. It’s windy and cold, so Eric offered to take him, in part to be nice to me (Colorado wind is my least favorite weather, even worse than rain) but also because he knew if I went he’d have to walk and that would mean being cold. When they run, he doesn’t notice the weather so much — seems like a metaphor, doesn’t it?

The weather seems a perfect match to the card I pulled this morning, “a card of conflict” with the image of five scattered wands. The card warns that “Your energy moves outward in many directions, yet you are suffering inside.” I realized this morning that once again, I was trying to do too much. I was thinking specifically of all the things I’d signed up for leading up to the holidays, all good stuff, emails of wisdom and prompts for reflection and opportunities to connect, but maybe too much… okay, not maybe — too much.

fiveofwandsI am working on a paradigm shift, and that’s hard. I am attempting to move from thinking I can’t be trusted, that I’m not allowed to want what I want, have what I want, that I have to work to earn acceptance and love, looking outward to external cues and messages, trying to do what others want, make them happy so they will in turn love and care for me, thinking that wisdom resides “out there,” that if I’m not getting it right it’s because I’m either stupid or an asshole, measuring my worth by how successfully I pleased others, some of whom are almost impossible to please, and rebelling or collapsing, self-destructing when it gets to be too much.

I can’t do it anymore. It doesn’t work. It will never work. If it did, I would have figured it out by now, but it’s a broken system. I am officially giving up. I am learning how to trust myself, to be myself. I am allowing myself to want what I want, to have what I want. I am moving from focused on what I have to offer to how I want my life to feel, the experience I want to have, what I’m truly hungry for, and no one else can tell me what that looks like, what that should be. I am the expert, only I can know.

For starters, “pancakes make me want to dance,” and I won’t be apologizing for that anymore.

Day of Rest

Being a dis-ordered eater sucks. Sometimes I get so sick of it, so tired of trying to change that I sink into feeling I will never ever ever be rid of this way of being. And to be clear, it isn’t even about the restricting and binging, isn’t about food at all, but rather my struggle to process the intensity of my experience, to control what is impossible to contain, to soothe myself, comfort the feeling of overwhelm, numb the sadness, the suffering caused by both too much and not enough.

I was really feeling this yesterday morning. In a few weeks, Andrea Scher is going to take some pictures for me, of me, and I am starting to feel a whole lot of anxiety around that. I’m not happy with how I look right now, have no idea what I’m going to wear, keep calculating how much weight I could lose if I starved myself and did extra cardio for the next few weeks, “you are obese” ringing in my head even though I am the same size as the average American woman. It’s exhausting.

When I pulled a card from my tarot deck, like I’ve been doing every morning, I asked for help, for clarity and guidance, asked how I can shift this situation. I pulled the Mother of Swords, “Sharp Perceptions,” with the warning that there’s “a potential for her criticism to soar.” Very clearly the message was that I have the power to heal myself through awareness but that I have to be gentle, practice self-compassion, not slip into smashing myself to bits — again, it’s not really about healing my relationship with food but rather with myself.

motherofswordsAnd this healing isn’t about restriction or control or change at all, it’s about renunciation. By that I mean the Buddhist concept of renunciation, which is not just rejection of something but rather a way of saying “yes” to life, to feeling, to the present moment and whatever it might bring. In her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World, Pema Chödrön says,

Trungpa Rinpoche once said, “Renunciation is realizing that nostalgia for samsara is full of shit.” Renunciation is realizing that our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited petty world is insane.

…that’s fundamentally renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back.

We don’t, out of fear of the unknown, have to put up these blocks, these dams, that basically say no to life and to feeling life.

The whole journey of renunciation, or starting to say yes to life, is first of all realizing that you’ve come up against your edge, that everything in you is saying no, and then at that point, softening. This is yet another opportunity to develop loving-kindness for yourself.

There is something in this concept of renunciation, this coming up against my edge, this shift from rejecting to letting the world touch me, allowing myself to be vulnerable, softening and opening, that makes me want to lean in.

compassionquoteSo there it is, the perfect example of how my sharp perceptions will facilitate healing. I got the card and in thinking about what it meant, I pretty immediately thought of renunciation, and knew the way Pema describes it would be the place to look, and it totally makes sense as the key and ties back to the card, how it says that there is the potential for criticism to soar and Pema says renunciation is about softening, being gentle. And as I was writing this in my journal, I notice the quote on the next page, “the body is your temple, keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in,” and it’s from B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Yoga, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. I start yoga teacher training in a few months, which is another key part of my healing practice, because as Jen Lemen said recently, “a huge barrier to joy is the refusal to live in our actual bodies.” It’s like a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” from the Universe — you are on the right track, Sugar.

And finally, in case I didn’t get it yet, my meditation practice is a video Susan Piver made for the Open Heart Project, Working with Self-Judgement.

The Universe does conspire to help you, if you show up. A leaf dropped in your path, a card, a line of poetry, a video, a kind word, help when you hadn’t even asked, the memory of an idea that you look for finding it to be the exact wisdom you needed in this very moment — the clear message that I can figure this out, can trust myself, but also to take care, be gentle and kind. Today, I am resting in this.

#augustbreak2013 Day 17

Touch

wildunknownmailI bought my first tarot deck 20 years ago. I love all kinds of divination practice — I Ching, tarot, Q-Cards. I know there are those who consider it a dark art, of the devil, but I believe it’s a way of communicating directly with God (whatever name you use for this wise and compassionate energy). It’s like prayer, opening my heart and listening deeply for answers to my questions, a way of requesting guidance.

I spent a lot of time choosing my first deck, researching different styles, considering image and color, meaning and origins. It even mattered to me where I bought the deck, it had to be the right place. I ended up with a Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, drawn by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith from the instructions of academic and mystic A. E. Waite, one of the most popular decks, a good one for beginners. I bought it in Boulder, Colorado at the Lighthouse Bookstore on Pearl Street.

me with that first deck, maybe even the first reading, 20 years ago

me with that first deck, maybe even the first reading, meaningful enough that we took a picture

I only used them a few times before a friend asked to borrow them. Now I know better, that your deck has to be yours, that it’s a sacred relationship and you can’t loan that out. At the time, I said “okay,” and I never saw that deck again.

It’s taken 20 years to get another. In the meantime, I used the I Ching and my Q-Cards, or sometimes would even use a book — making a request for guidance, some kind of sign, opening the book to a random page, reading a line or paragraph and considering what truth it contained for me.

With my new deck, I’d seen it around for awhile. People I love and respect use it, and there was just something about it that spoke to me — the dark hand drawn lines, the bright colors, the story of the artist, The Wild Unknown, “founded on the belief that there is a place of wonder, gentle beauty, and clarity within each of us.”

wildunknownfirstcardI pulled my first card this morning. I asked the deck what message it had for me and took a card without even shuffling — because this was the card the deck came to me with, brought to me of its own accord, no shuffling necessary, it came ready to tell me what it had to tell. I pulled it, the Eight of Swords, and recognized it right away, felt a “yes” deep in my belly. This cocoon metaphor has been with me for awhile, the transformation from one manifestation to another that requires a complete melting of everything into a soup of nothing, eventually reconstructing as something beautiful with wings, tender and fragile but possessing the power of flight.

Even so, at first I was disappointed. The message is “trapped, powerless,” believing yourself a victim, “no way out, no available choices.” This touched a nerve, a raw and tender spot in me, and at first I resisted it — I am not a victim, I always take personal responsibility for my experience. I propped the card up on my desk and set my meditation timer for 15 minutes, contemplating what it might mean for me that “Your perceptions keep you from opening your wings and taking flight.”

The card asks if the suspension is because of you or others, and the more I looked at the card, the better I understood its message — I am the one holding myself still, the reason I am not free. This is why there is a Ganesh on my writing desk and why I sometimes chant his mantra, Remover of Obstacles, knowing that I am the only thing in my way. It is me creating the trap. I placed each of those swords, believing they would protect me. What I didn’t understand when I made that tight, sharp circle is that I’d also trapped myself. Any attempt to spread my wings, to move from that spot, and I’d slice my wings to bits. Stuck.

wildunknowneightofswordsUnderlying this desire to protect myself is a fundamental confusion, not just that THIS isn’t a safe place, but that safety is even possible. There is no safe place. No matter what I do, change is inevitable, impermanence is real. The only true freedom is to accept that, surrender to the truth that safety and control aren’t possible, to let go of certainty altogether. I can’t keep myself safe. I can’t keep Sam or Eric safe. I couldn’t keep Kelly or Obi or Dexter safe. I can’t keep anyone or anything I love safe, ever. I have no control, no power over what happens. There is no secret, no protection.

We have so much fear of not being in control, of not being able to hold on to things. Yet the true nature of things is that you’re never in control. You’re never in control. You can never hold on to anything. That’s the nature of how things are. ~Pema Chödrön

In allowing this truth, I’m able to see situations as workable, able to be of benefit, to do what I can to ease suffering. To do so requires a simple and yet almost impossible choice, “Real safety is your willingness to not run away from yourself,” (Pema Chödrön).