Sunday, January 11, 2015

Keeping the Poison

Jean Cocteau wrote, "After you have written a thing and you reread it, there is always the temptation to remove its poison, to blunt its sting."

This is true sometimes. A piece of work will stab at something, and you'll become scared others will not understand. The artist is always daring to push out, then pulling back.

I pull a card: What is this temptation to remove the poison? 10 of Pentacles.

We desire completion, to be done with it. The 10 of Pentacles is the end of the suit of earth. We live life yearning for an ending that will provide the meaning for what we've lived through. In the art we create, we are tempted, time and time again, to make the story neat, no loose danglies to confuse.

You'd think that taking the poison out would make things safer, but it does anything but.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

There Are Two Things Layout

When to use:
  • You’ve become entranced with a pair of opposites and you want to know how they are operating in yourself.
  • You're just interested in big, philosophical ideas like “loyalty & disloyalty”, “anger & fear”, “love & repulsion”.
  • You feel a division within yourself, as if you are two people instead of one, and you are arguing or not seeing each other's point of view.
Shuffle and Deal: Say the two words you’ve selected to work with out loud. Then let those words leave your mind completely as you warm up the deck with a shuffle. Your mind wanders. You hear the sound of the cards riffling together.

Deal all the cards out face down into two piles as you say the words, one for each pile. You decide which pile is which. You don’t have to keep saying the words out loud once you know which pile is which. You may find once you’ve fallen silent, that the cards want to be in one pile or the other. You know which is which now, so throw the cards, one by one, into which ever pile they want.

Straighten the piles and set them next to each other.

Draw the top card from one of the piles and place it face up below (towards you, not underneath) its pile.

Thinking of the word you’ve assigned this pile, look at the card and ask yourself, “What do I need to know about [whatever you named the pile]? You are faced with some aspect of loyalty or anger or love or whatever. It may surprise you or confuse you. You may know exactly what the card is referring to and what it has to say about the subject. You may find the card feels like a rebuke or like praise. All of these emotions you feel when looking at the card, if you feel any at all, are hooks. They are the places where you are snagging yourself on the world. They are gifts and probably the entry into the real reason you are doing this reading.

Let yourself feel and think whatever you’re going to feel and think about this card for at least a breath, better two or three. In that space, allow a question to form in your mind, something further to learn as indicated by the card. If no question comes, do one of the following:
  • Pick a symbol on the card and say what it represents to you right now. Ask why you need to pay attention to whatever it symbolizes.
  • If there’s a figure on the card, put yourself in its pose. Notice and name whatever change you feel when you take on their posture and gesture. Allow the figure to give you a question to ask.
  • Think of the traditional meanings for the card, or ever look them up in a book, and turn the meaning that catches your eye into a question.
Write your question down for later.

Draw a second card from the bottom of the same pile. Read it as you did the first card. Write down this card’s question below the first question.

Draw the top and bottom cards for the other pile in the same way. First the top card, thinking of the name you’ve given this pile, sitting with the card, hearing and recording the question that arises from it. Then the bottom card, placing it next to the top card over on the side of your table next to the pile it comes from. Write down the questions these cards raise.

You should now have four cards, one pair to the left and one pair to the right, and at least four questions. (Some cards may generate more than one question.)

One thing that can be really cool here is to lay each pair of cards into crosses. This gives you two crossed pairs like the opening of the Celtic Cross spread. These crosses can be read as a conversation between cards pointing out two different aspects of a situation. They can show conflict, literally where two aspects clash, but they can also illuminate more subtle nuances. They may show what you know and don’t know, what your heart and head are saying, what is stuck and what has movement. There are many things two crossed cards can tell you. Breathe and see what yours are saying.

If you feel like you want to draw cards for your new questions, now is the time to do that. You don’t even have to draw cards. You’ve asked the questions. They are in your mind and your mind will work on their answer whether or not you have time to lay the cards down. But probably, if you are a reader, you’ll want to know what cards you would have gotten for these questions so go ahead and throw some cards down.

Draw a card for each question that emerged in the first part of the reading. In the answer, find peace, and strength, and understanding, and the desire to do something.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Two Handed Spread.

A spread for when you are of two minds, when your actions don't match your thoughts, or when you are both certain and uncertain.

Mix up the cards well and good, letting the randomness of the universe in to play. When it is done, spread the cards out face down, close your eyes, and pass your hands over the array.

You will be using both hands for this spread. One of those hands is more likely to write and take the lead on things. The other sits back and supports. Decide which is which and continue.

Let your writing hand seek the knowledge that your conscious mind needs. This is the part of you that thinks it knows everything. It speaks in a small voice that it amplifies into an authority. It says that it’s in charge. Take care of this voice. It is very vulnerable and usually scared. It needs your love. Let your hand find a card that will let you protect and guide this part of you.

Pick your card and set it aside face down.

Let your silent hand seek the knowledge that you need deep down. While your conscious mind is talking, there is another part of you that is taking in the world. This part does not speak in words, but if you pay attention, you will find its soft voice reverberates in your bones and breath. This part will do what it will. Know that it loves you. Let your hand find the card that will help you earn its trust.

Pick your card and set it aside face down.

Put the rest of the deck back together, ordering the universe around you again.

Turn your two cards over at the same time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Church Without A Roof

©Robert Potts

Redwoods are a communal species. While they can grow from seed, more often they grow from shoots sent up from the roots of older trees. They form communities growing together in various arrangements. Whatever architectural style the trees choose, semicircle or something else, there is a distinctive feel to a cathedral of redwoods that isn't present in a grove or stand. I mean, sometimes you come up to a bunch of redwoods and they're just a bunch of redwoods, nice and beautiful. And other times you walk in and your whole spirit is lifted to heaven.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Spread of Darkness

The way of depression is the sinking into that which is below, where Malkuth, the realm of the physical plane becomes even more of itself. There is treasure here. Having the dark places be a part of you, means being the movement for that which is more still, the truth for that which holds its secrets close, the fire for that which has found itself fallen.

But how can we come to do that?

At the top of the Tree, above Kether, there are three bright emanations, waves of light that gain in their lightness as they move out of our ability to perceive even the hint of their existence. These are the ain, the ain soph, and the ain soph aur if you’re googling. 

They are mirrored in a darkness that lies along the farther shore, the deeper shore.

The Deal:
Pick three cards using any method you want. Lay them out as your heart desires.

The Bright Darkness
What we know but cannot see or say. What brought us to this place, the reason we are here at this time, asking this question.

The Thick Darkness
Here the body moves through dense time, resistance, apathy, forgetfulness, disconnection. There are things we would be free of if we could.

The Grace at the Bottom
Total release, where our faith lies (you might be surprised) and where we rest and remember and find ourselves whole again.

In living with depression, we have few life affirming ways to work with the still, hopeless, stagnant energies we find ourselves straddled with. And most of the advice for how to deal with depression center on getting as far away from those energies as possible. 

That would be lovely if we had the energy to get off the couch. Depression is a dampening, a forced going in that can feel like a prison. The idea of getting away sounds like too much trouble because our energies are too drained, too attenuated. 

But there is still energy to be had. There is still the possibility of movement. There is still some note of volatility that can be sensed, its intelligence listened to. Though often it speaks of sad things, and meaningless things, and loneliness, it can still be the fuel for alchemical change. 

There are processes available in deep depression. Putrefaction, the sloppy, sluggy process that turns whatever is weak and futile into jelly, needs no more energy than using a remote or checking messages on your phone. 

If you find you have some heat, perhaps a bit of anger at your lot, or an itch of dissatisfaction, or anything that makes you want to move, you might try one of the deeper fermentations. Rather than letting your resentments merely simmer, let them bubble up like yeast, bringing air and light into the depression.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Devil

As in the Tarot Card.

All the majors are, for me, neither good nor bad. They are all Good, as in part of the Law. The Devil is a wonderful friend. He prepares you to have your illusions of bondage torn away. He makes it possible for you to feel those chains and to desire to be rid of them. He is the part of g*d that allows us to alchemize even the most tawdry of experiences. Like the experience of feeling separate, or fearing the dark, or wanting to feel good even when we know we are destroying ourselves. The Devil is what allows us to take those experiences and do something Good with them. Among other things.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Driving to the Unaffected Coast

I think a lot about the wounds I carry. It has never seemed very fruitful to think of the injustice of it. There are always others worse off. I am never completely innocent or less deserving of receiving a random share of unfairnesses. But looking forward, I can see in the wounds, the possibility of something else. By staying with the pain, I can sometimes open up to something amazing, a connection, a feeling of being larger than I thought I was. Each wound becomes an opportunity to do this thing. 

 Also, hammocks are awesome.