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.