Tarot Education: Recovering “Dead Time” While On Hold With Customer Service Representatives

Maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation too. Stuck in a tedious online chat with a Time Warner Cable representative today, I wondered what the outcome would be. Time Warner phoned me late in July with a classic bait and switch marketing promotion: they offered me a Dell tablet if I would upgrade my service to a higher speed, but then told me later (after I upgraded and began paying the higher rate, which was also about $10 higher than my notes from the phone call indicated that it would be, while the upgraded speed was 50 mbps lower than my notes from the phone call indicated that it would be) that they had decided to “deny the claim” regarding the Dell tablet.

I knew that regardless of the outcome of the chat, I would be busy with it for awhile. Time Warner’s representatives are not only NOT fast typists, but they also, as far as I can tell, must consult a script for every kind of situation they are asked about. And the script requires much time to be spent indicating the empathy that they feel for your concerns, and transferring the chat back and forth to other representatives who know equally little about how to resolve the situation. So chatting with them online means spending a lot of time sitting around and waiting for a response.

I decided to spend my waiting time to further my tarot education. I drew a card from Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot on the outcome of the call: the Guardian of Earth.

Guardian of Earth, Joanna Powell Colbert, Gaian Tarot

The Guardian of Earth, from Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot

This card shows a farmer tending his corn field, with a horse in the background. Joanna’s book about the Gaian says of this card that it is time to harvest the corn, and that the farmer takes pride “in his heirloom home-grown corn,” that he “is reclaiming its sacred traditions, taking it back from giant agribusinesses who have commercialized and adulterated it.” I thought this was rather appropriate given that I am considering withdrawing my business from a giant company which has commercialized and adulterated its products.

My husband asked me what I thought was going to happen, based on this card. And here’s what I find to be the key to this situation: I had an idea about what would happen (I felt the situation would work out for the best in the end, but also suspected that “working out for the best” would mean that I’d end up having a little more money in the future, but that I’d likely accomplish that by reversing my recent upgrade). But I didn’t need to be certain how to interpret the card because I knew that in a few minutes, I would have my answer, once I finished the chat. And then I could compare what really happened with the card that I drew, in order to further develop my understanding of this card and its role in the Gaian. This could turn into a tarot education moment! Realizing this, I have to say that I was quite delighted. As comedian Bill Burr might say, I discovered that I can “turn this franchise around” — instead of dreading chats and calls of this sort, I can reclaim my time from them by drawing a card on each call, and then comparing the outcome to my understanding of the card, making each experience of this sort into a tarot self-education moment. And who doesn’t need more of those? Learning more about tarot and how it works is much more important to me, anyway, than faster Internet speeds or a new device.

So I feel that this chat left me with a gift — a way to handle all such interactions in the future — even though Time Warner was totally unwilling to budge on its recent blunders.

Cards for the Day: Ask and it Will Be Given, Seek and Ye Shall Find. Maintain Healthy Energy Networks.

Rabbit, Deer

From the Children’s Animal Spirit Cards: Rabbit (Ask for help) and Deer (Be kind to yourself and others)

As I was getting off the 63 bus yesterday, a stranger asked me how I was. I replied, “oh, it’s been a crazy week!” And he then said, “well, are you getting all the help you need? Do you have people who are helping you?” I told him that yes, actually, I do have help, and that at the moment I was particularly thankful for the help of the Milwaukee Transit System. While we waited for the 12, we continued our conversation about help and gratitude. This young man told me that he was personally thankful for a friend who lets him sleep in his living room, and that he believes that you should always ask God for help when you need it. For anyone who was raised around a lot of hard core Christians (as I was), those words, “ask God for help when you need it,” must surely remind you of these verses from the Gospel of Matthew:

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. Is there among you a man who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! –Matthew 7:7-11 (Jerusalem Bible translation)

Now, I’m not a Christian myself (I’m a Buddhist), but I do believe that if you ask for help, it will be given (though not always in a form that you recognize as help), and that if you seek, you will find. My cards for today, from the Children’s Spirit Animal Cards, emphasize this point. I pulled Rabbit (Ask for help), and Deer (Be kind to yourself and others). The rabbit card makes it look as though the rabbit is asking a butterfly for help. You might wonder, how could a butterfly help a rabbit? And my answer is, by opening lines of communication. We have an energetic web around us that links us with so much else in the universe. And that web, believe it or not, at least in part, runs on words — truthful, honest, sincere, genuine words. Lies don’t work well to activate that energetic web. They make the web sticky; you won’t get anywhere with them. Even if you don’t tell lies, you can still get stuck in the web if you are not completely honest. When something is blocked that you are trying to manifest, it helps enormously to use honest words to open lines of communication. Do you see how the word “Rabbit” is printed in the blue of the throat chakra on this card, and how it has a blue band underneath the picture. We can use our words, that come through our throats and out our mouths, to blast energetic blocks and make our portion of that energetic web healthy again, so that we can go where we need to, find what we need to, and not just be mired and stuck all the time.

Basically, when we speak our truths instead of repressing them, we grease the lines of communication so things can run smoothly. And when we do this, all sorts of events in our lives begin to operate more smoothly than they did before. It’s as if we are driving down a road with all green lights, where before we always got stuck at the red lights, or were even pulled over. Truthfulness is a way of maintaining the energetic web.

Kindness to others, what we see on the Deer card, also maintains the energy of the web around us. And it attracts the kindness of others. When we are kind even to people we have no particular reason to be kind to, there are effects on our own lives. We don’t choose kindness for the sake of those positive gifts that we receive — if we did, I’m not sure that would really work. But we do benefit from being kind to others and genuine with them — it’s as if the energy network around us is primed to accept and receive kindness, as if unkindness and ungentleness and discourtesy are then somehow routed around us.

If you need something, be honest and open about it — ask for help. And turn that help around and provide it others. Generosity should flow, like a river. And why not let this river sweep everyone up in its torrents? <3

My New Favorite Deck: the Darkana!!!!

Six of Cups, Four of Pentacles, Nine of Pentacles, from the Darkana Tarot

Six of Cups, Four of Pentacles, Nine of Pentacles, from the Darkana Tarot

After working with the Janden Hale’s Darkana Tarot app on my phone for several months, I gave in and bought a copy of it. And it is even more wonderful in person!

For today, I drew the Six of Cups, the Four of Pentacles, and the Nine of Pentacles. To me, these three cards are about wanting, and control: wanting material things, wanting what we had as children (basically to be taken care of), wanting money, wanting money, though, actually not so much out of greed but out of wanting to be independent and autonomous. Which is not such a bad thing to want. For some people, though, the Six of Cups is about nostalgia, remembering good times from the past — but is that so different from what I just said? For many of us, childhood is a time when we are provided for. The Four of Pentacles, in some ways, is darker. It says we want to control that past — or its manifestation in our present. Maybe we even want to control our own families (sorry, but I have some family members who DEFINITELY want to control me!).

The Nine of Pentacles, though, says we will be able to be independent and autonomous. We will have what we need to do what we need to do — to complete our mission in life. How could we have a mission without the tools we need to complete it? I ask you. We want to control our lives, and our families, but the fact is, we can’t help but control our own lives, and as for our families, we can’t help but let them control their own lives. That’s their prerogative.

Finally, since this is the first time I’ve read in this space with the Darkana, I want to note that this is, without a doubt, the most accurate deck I have ever read with. It is amazing in its Android form, it is amazing in its hard copy form, it is simply amazing. And I love Janden Hale’s beautifully blunt interpretations of his cards in the little book that goes with them — I usually leave that book in the box, but not this one. I like to see what Janden has to say!

After a long hiatus…back to cards for the day! Taking control.

After a long hiatus from my cards for the day posts, I’ve decided to go back to posting — but hopefully, more briefly than before. I’m hoping that if I say less, I will be able to blog more regularly. In addition, I want to note that although this is a “daily” post, it’s NOT meant to be a predictive forecast for the day. Huh? Why not? Well, because people read these posts on days other than the day on which I pulled the cards, that’s why! These are three cards meant to represent a tarot insight that can be applicable at any time.

So, for today, from Barbara Moore’s Steampunk Tarot: The Devil reversed, The Emperor, the Knight of Cups.

Steampunk Tarot, The Devil reversed, The Emperor, the Knight of Cups

From the Steampunk Tarot: the Devil reversed, The Emperor, the Knight of Cups (sorry for the blurry image!)

To me, the theme here is control — and how to handle the problem of feeling trapped in a situation that is beyond your control. The Devil reversed so often represents feeling trapped: trapped in an addiction, trapped in poor lifestyle habits, trapped in an unfulfilling job, trapped in a dysfunctional relationship — there are many ways to be trapped. You may feel that you have to make a “deal with the Devil” to get out of there — but that is not the case. You might even think that getting out of the situation will require creative thinking, looking around to find the chink in the Devil’s armor or the door out that has been overlooked. As much as I love creative, out of the box thinking, I have to say that in response to a trap, waiting for an out of the box creative bolt of lightning to strike is still a copout. The way out comes when you take off your own chains and walk out of there. The Emperor’s response to the Devil is to just take control. Stage a coup.

What has the Knight of Cups come to tell us? I find myself reading my three-card spreads lately in a Lenormandish way, matching opposite ends of the spread together. The Knight of Cups, that drama queen, advises us that the Devil’s chains are an illusion — all smoke and mirrors — pure drama created by our minds. That’s why we can set them aside and walk away. They aren’t real. She also tells us that the way out involves the heart. The Knight of Pentacles might advise us to construct a pragmatic solution, the Knight of Swords might tell us to hurry, hurry, and the Knight of Wands is still questing for that out of the box creative solution. But the Knight of Cups, though headstrong at times, is our best advisor for throwing off negative habits. Don’t feel you have to wait for the practical solution. Have faith, follow your heart, and walk away. Take control. And the chains will vanish like the misty illusions they are.

Who cares about predicting the future? Not me!

High Priestess of Spirit, House of Night

The High Priestess of Spirit, from the House of Night cards

I don’t read tarot to find out the future.

The High Priestess, Universal Waite

The High Priestess, from the Universal Waite

Let me say that again.

I don’t read tarot to find out the future. Well, not usually. Not for myself, anyway.

Why not?

Well, I guess my attitude is, who cares about what’s going to happen in the future? We can always change that!

Because we can: the future is something we get to interact with and mix our labor with. Why on earth would you spend a lot of time worrying about it? Just act on it! Work to bring about your desired outcome. (Ask the tarot what you can do to bring about your desired outcome: that will be more productive than asking what will happen. Or, ask the tarot what you can’t do; that can be very interesting too.)

The past, on the other hand, interests me very much. And the past you can delve into and find things out about. It’s there to be found out about. It’s not this thing that is constantly in flux, that you can dance with, like the future is. We may think the past is known, and the future is unknown, but in fact, plenty of the past is just as unknown as the future.

The present is even MORE interesting, though. What could be more interesting than our present situation? The present is where everything magical happens. It’s where universal guidance comes through. It’s where miracles occur. It’s where WE ARE!!!!!

Yep, I MUCH prefer looking at the present.

Does the present contain the seeds of the future? Of course. And absolutely you can discern some of what may lie in the future by looking at the past and present. That’s the way cause and effect works: the things that happen earlier do affect the things that happen later.

If you really needed to know the future, though, you’d be in it. Instead, look at what seeds you are watering and nurturing. If it’s guidance you want, that’s where it’s to be found: right here, in the present moment.

The Priest, from the Samurai Tarot

The Priest, from the Samurai Tarot

Why Do Spiders Creep Us Out?

I know it’s not Halloween, but it’s really this time of year when we start to see lots of spiders, isn’t it? The weather has warmed up. It’s time. 

I’m not really an arachnophobe, but I used to be. And even now, I have to admit that spiders do not make me comfortable, although I appreciate all that they do (which is a lot, by the way). Although many people think of them as bugs, the truth is that spiders are out there on the front lines between us and true insects. That venom that many have is not meant for us, and we are far more frightening to them than they are to us. We know all that, if we’re at all rational, and we might even know that spiders in houses are thought to bring good luck, but still…

Why do spiders creep us out so much? In my opinion this is a great example of a perfect question to ask tarot. It’s open-ended enough to give the cards quite a bit of flexibility in responding. So I asked the Yoga Tarot, and drew the Six of Wands, reversed Emperor, and reversed Fool. 

In the Yoga Tarot, the Fool is associated with the keywords freedom and madness, while the Six of Wands has to do with freedom also, but connects it with communication and the ego. Is anyone else thinking of the story of Arachne yet? In the center of this spread, we have the Emperor, representing order and balance. 

To me, this is a fairly clear answer — the kind of surprisingly clear answer that often comes out when we ask a why or how question. We can’t easily relate to what spiders do. Yes, we can relate to spinning and weaving. But we can’t really relate to a spider’s way of life. Or, maybe we can relate all too easily, and that fact scares us. 

When we look at other animals, cute ones, like kittens and baby pandas, we relate in a comfortable way. We can travel out of our own minds in order to imaginatively enter the world of some other cuddly mammal, and still make it back again. But when we think of spiders, it’s perilously hard to fathom how we can relate to what goes on the arachnid brain and still ever be able to make it back home to our own bodies and our own ways of life. 

We’re not afraid of spiders because they are creepy. We are afraid because they are so different and we are afraid of getting stuck in that difference. 

Yet we have to try, because the world is full of difference. There are as many different beings in the world as there are numbers, and the vast majority are probably not that much like us. If there are any rules of nature that we really know we can count on, I think those rules would be things like impermanence, beginninglessness/endlessness (in other words, infinity), and diversity. 

And what if spiderwebs are precisely the bridge we need to help us connect to what is different and come back again to ourselves? What if these tiny beings that we are afraid will destroy our minds are actually the protectors of our sanity? 

Strategies for Spider-Friendly Living:

If you see a spider,

1. Bless it.

2. Thank it. 

3. Stay out of its way; it has stuff to do.

That is all. 

Money Blessing: A Mindfulness Practice

laughing buddha with money bagMany of us are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh’s recommendation that we use everyday sights and sounds as “bells of mindfulness” that can remind us to return to the breath. I’d like to offer a related practice that we can do almost every day: blessing money that we send out into the world. I’m referring mainly to physical money, such as hard currency and coins, but it would be fairly simply to incorporate this practice into online bill paying as well.

Here’s an example: to do laundry, I have to put quarters into the washers and dryers in our building. One day I started blessing the quarters before sliding them into the coin slots. I hold the quarters in my hand, generate the intention that this blessing is meant for the sake of all sentient beings, but especially those to whom these quarters will eventually go, and offer gratitude to the Universe for allowing me to bless the quarters. Then I put the quarters in the coin slots, push the apparatus into the washer (or dryer) and go about my day.

Though I find it easiest to bless quarters in the privacy of the laundry room, it would be easy to bless all the bills and coins in one’s wallet at once, or to silently bless money while handing it to a cashier in a checkout line. It would be equally easy to generate the intention behind a blessing while paying bills online.

Do I really think that money can be a carrier for blessings to unknown people? Well, to some people, money is the best blessing of all! (I don’t agree, but it’s not for me to judge.) Whether or not blessings connected with money can actually reach their intended recipients through the exchange of random coins, taking time to generate the intention of sending a blessing is a way of bringing oneself into harmony and balance, potentially improving the harmony and balance of those around us and of our internal and external environments. It can be a lovely mindfulness practice.