King of Pentacles reversed--Samurai Tarot

Cards for the Day: Ace of Wands/R’d King of Pentacles: What’s Really Stopping You? Eagerness and Impatience

Ace of Wands--Samurai TarotKing of Pentacles reversed--Samurai TarotAnother duel spread today. We are on fire to start something new or accomplish something (Ace of Wands) but this journey is one that may need to be long and slow. Our enemy (reversed King of Pentacles) is whatever is blocking our ability to be patient. The thing is, while we may be ready to put on armor and go out and do battle, like the figure we can barely see on the Ace of Wands card, what we want to accomplish won’t come about by winning a battle. This project requires a different kind of strong spirit. It requires that we take time for solitude and meditation, preferably alone in the mountains, like the monk Kukai, founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism, who is depicted on the Samurai Tarot’s King of Pentacles card.

However, don’t be disheartened–the Ace of Wands suggests to me that at least our intentions are clear–and that’s the first step of any journey. Just be aware that not every battle is won by actual fighting. Find your way carefully on this path: the tools that will turn out to be your best resources won’t be as obvious to you as weapons are to a warrior. When in doubt, follow your moral compass and take the high road. It won’t fail you. Most of all, exercise patience — the victor in this battle will be the one who is the most patient — the one who knows how to wait and let nature take its course.

Nine of Wands reversed--Samurai Tarot

Cards for the Day: R’d Sun/R’d 9 of Wands: Embrace the Present Moment Fiercely, as if You Crave Your Difficulties

Nine of Wands reversed--Samurai TarotThe Sun reversed--Samurai TarotOkay, enough namby pamby oracle cards for a few days. I’m just teasing, I love oracle cards, and I find they are healing and grounding when nothing else is. But Mars is in Scorpio, so let’s show some fighting spirit with a duel spread from the Samurai Tarot. The duel spread, you may remember, includes one card representing the querent (in this case, all of us) and one card representing the opponent (in this case, a challenge for the day). The face off this time is between the reversed Sun and the reversed Nine of Wands.

While the reversed Sun can indicate a temporary depression, I don’t see it that way today–I see it as our joy in the present moment being blocked because we are so intensely focused on something other than the present. It could be a matter of concentrating on work so hard that even time and place is blocked out. Sometimes we need that type of concentration and it’s welcome. Maybe this is one of those days.

But all days have their difficulties, and often we resist those. A voice inside us shouts, “No!” But the Samurai Tarot’s Nine of Wands card shows us the monk Nichiren, who (according to Wikipedia), after he was supposed to be executed but the execution was stopped because a bright orb appeared on the execution grounds, was sent into exile on a bitterly cold island, Sado. We can see him on the card struggling through the snow. (As an aside, Nichiren’s birth name, Zennichimaro, is supposed to mean “Splendid Sun” or “Virtuous Sun Boy” — so pulling this card with the Sun card is like pulling two Suns, in a sense.) Why is this card reversed? This is a situation similar to the card that showed meditation under a freezing waterfall. It seems that we are not embracing our difficulties today — and we need to. Embrace the difficulties of this present moment fiercely and tenderly, as if you craved them. Then, they will lose their power to torment you. This is the only way we can win this particular battle. Swearing at the snow won’t help. Neither will slashing the wind with a sword or staff. We can only revel in the cold.

“If your heart remains steadfast, the ice becomes hot, the snow warm.” –Nichiren

Creativity--Universal Wisdom deck by Toni Carmine Salerno

Cards for the Day: Compassion Plus Creativity: Just for today, don’t judge, just create!

Compassion--Universal Wisdom deckCreativity--Universal Wisdom deckDrawing from Toni Carmine Salerno’s Universal Wisdom deck again, I pulled Compassion and Creativity. This is a message for writers, artists, and other creative folk. Be kind and compassionate with yourself and your work. Let your spirit take over; work without making judgments or stopping to criticize yourself. Creativity and self-criticism don’t mix, so curb perfectionism (you can be an editor or critic later, on another day) and express your feelings fully. For today, your work is always already perfect.

Release--Universal Wisdom deck

One Step Toward Recovery from Trauma: Release Negative Attachments with Help from Angels and Spirit Guides

Lilac Mist--Universal Wisdom deckRelease--Universal Wisdom deckTaking a break from the Samurai Tarot, I drew two cards from Toni Carmine Salerno’s Universal Wisdom deck today: Lilac Mist and Release.

Has something negative happened recently or, perhaps not so recently, that is weighing heavily on your heart? These cards speak to recovery from that kind of event. They remind us that:

1. All things happen for a reason. And all the events in our lives, even the negative ones (maybe especially the negative ones) help to make us who we are today.

2. If we keep focusing on and thinking about negative events and the people who have hurt us, we reexperience those events, essentially re-traumatizing ourselves. We don’t need that. We need to instead let go of negativity and move forward to experience happiness and love.

3. Although we need to let go of past hurtful experiences, it is incredibly hard to do so. They have a compelling hold on our psyches, having taken up residence in our amygdalas, in some cases, it seems, for good! Some negative events create serious phobias that end up being lifelong, or cause an ongoing problem with anxiety and panic attacks. Again, we don’t need this — but it is hard to prevent.

4. Luckily, help is available. Of course, one form of help is counseling and therapy — and this could mean professional help from a licensed therapist, or informal help from our support network of friends and family. However, sometimes spiritual help can be a bit more potent and can be a strong add-on to the other support we are availing ourselves of. The Lilac Mist card reminds us that we always have angels and spirit guides around us. These guides are eager to help and are constantly radiating unconditional love. It may seem old-fashioned to pray for help, but prayer has existed since ancient times precisely because it is a powerful tool. Moreover, though we could argue about whether or not it is appropriate to pray for assistance with material and physical matters (such as financial problems or medical healing), letting go of negative attachments is not a material or physical matter, but a spiritual one. There could not be any more appropriate topic for prayer!

The Universal Wisdom deck book suggests that we ask the angels to cut the etheric cords that still connect us with those people who have hurt us. I don’t believe this card refers to our loved ones who occasionally hurt our feelings without meaning to, and who we naturally forgive with an open heart, even when something serious happens. I think this statement refers to those people who WILLFULLY hurt us and others, who will NEVER stop behaving in a negative way toward us, who hurt us ON PURPOSE, and whose actions toward us have to be stopped for good by ending the connection. Some of us feel strongly called to pray for those who have hurt us, in the hopes that those people will develop and mature into more responsible individuals capable of making better future choices. But, if keeping these people in our prayers ends up being a way of retraumatizing ourselves by reliving those bad memories, one option is to ask the angels and spirit guides to take on the job of praying for them, so that we ourselves can simply let go of the connection and move on with our lives.

Do you see why this question of whether and how to end negative attachments is a spiritual one? It isn’t particularly spiritually advanced to just slam the door on people who bother us in some way, even when those people hurt us. It’s better than letting those people roll right over us, of course, but not by much! A more spiritual response is to work with those people and help them onto a better path. However — there are times when we have to recognize that the situation is beyond our current level of skill to heal. And at such a time, placing the matter in the hands of someone as spiritually advanced as an angel or a buddha is a graceful way of shutting the door without pushing that person (the person who insists on continually trying to harm us) further into negativity.

Knight of Swords--Samurai Tarot--Miyamoto Musashi

Cards for the Day: 5 and Knight of Swords: Fight On with 100% Commitment

Five of Swords--Samurai TarotKnight of Swords--Samurai Tarot--Miyamoto MusashiTwo swordsmen appear in my Samurai Tarot cards for today, and one of them, the Knight of Swords, is represented by Miyamoto Musashi, one of the most famous swordsmen of all time. If you don’t know Musashi’s story, look it up — it’s a story of persistently facing and defeating the odds, of fierce belief in oneself, of courage to the point of madness. There are times when it is completely mad to try to defeat the odds, when the odds are so overwhelmingly against us that it seems like the prudent thing to do would be to cut our losses.

But there are also times when retreat is not an option.

Even if other people think that it is.

Those are the times when all we really have to depend on is ourselves and our own absolute unswerving 100 percent commitment.

To the people who want us to turn back at such times, the story is a story of certain defeat and failure, or maybe certain death or at least ruin.

For those who have the courage to face certain defeat, the story itself is not about defeat — it’s about having a strong spirit.

A spirit so strong that it sends chills down your spine to see it.

In the face of a spirit that strong, even the fiercest opponents will tend to quail. Nobody wants to fight the person who continues to fight even when it is madness to do so. That strong spirit and courage IN AND OF ITSELF can change the odds, and prevail despite them. So remember that.

Eight of Chalices reversed--Samurai Tarot

Cards for the Day: Meditate and Flow with Energy of Situation to Create Dramatic Change

Today’s cards are watery (waterfall in one, ocean in the other), making me think that emotions have been strong over the last few days. I drew three cards (situation, challenge, and advice).

Eight of Chalices reversed--Samurai TarotSituation: Reversed Eight of Chalices. In the Samurai Deck, the Eight of Cups is represented by a monk meditating under a waterfall — a practice that helps to increase mindfulness and presence in the world. It’s often hard for people to understand why anyone would meditate under a cold waterfall. The usual assumption is that it’s a matter of developing discipline or becoming tough. But this is a misunderstanding. The point of meditating under a waterfall has more to do with learning to make peace with your situation even when there is discomfort involved — being able to be fully present and serene, and able to take a larger perspective, despite challenging personal circumstances.

Do you see the difference? It’s not a matter of buckling under and forcing oneself to toughen up. It’s a matter of finding peace, comfort and serenity even amidst adversity. It’s not a practice of being tough on oneself, but rather a practice of learning to be gentle with oneself. Or put another way, it’s a matter of flowing with the energy rather than fighting it.

But reversed, this energy is blocked. This card says to me that we have our work cut out for us today — and that work is to find a way to embrace our situation, and make peace with it, flowing with adverse circumstances rather than fighting them tooth and nail. How can this be done? Insight into this question will come from meditation and breathing. That sounds like a non-answer but, trust me, it isn’t. Often when we meditate during adverse circumstances, and take a strictly observational attitude toward our own thoughts and feelings, our perspective will change and we will start to stop resisting, and start to flow with the energy, suddenly seeing everything quite differently than we did before.

Nine of Pentacles reversed--Samurai TarotChallenge: Reversed Nine of Pentacles. Though a traditional Rider-Waite deck shows a woman in a garden with a bird for the Nine of Pentacles card, the Samurai Tarot shows fishing boats on an ocean, at night, under a full moon. In this deck, this card is supposed to symbolize rest, and to me it’s emotional rest, rest from the stress of emotional exhaustion. With that full moon, I can’t help but connect that need for rest with psychiatric concerns such as anxiety and depression (or in some cases manic depression). And again, this card is blocked — we aren’t getting that rest, but we need it.

It’s interesting that a card symbolizing rest is showing up in my challenge position. We must really need a break today! Emotional stresses are coming down on us too hard and we’ve had about enough of it.

Advice: The Hanged Man. If you don’t know the story of Miyamoto Musashi, look it up in order to better understand this card (though there are many other Hanged Man stories in various cultures). As in the Eight of Chalices card above, this is a card of new perspectives and spiritual development. It has to do with learning to look at a seemingly impossible situation in an entirely new way. In a sense, this advice is to take our situation, represented by the Eight of Chalices card, and turn it right side up again. Meditate under that waterfall. Accept hanging in the tree for the sake of what it might have to teach us. And think about the illusory nature of life. It may have seemed as though we were surrounded by water and emotions, but we were really just hanging upside down in a tree. How did that happen? Or is it the other way around? Either way we are surrounded by nature; either way we have resources around us to draw on; either way there is no hurry to change anything, because discomfort can be accepted while we meditate about it and breathe into it in order to find a way to flow it into something different and new. The Hanged Man--Samurai Tarot

That’s not to say that the advice here is to accept our difficulties and just lay down like a doormat for life to roll over us. Not at all. Rather, it’s to note that what appears as slow action, meditating and considering how to flow, will swiftly turn into the action of dramatic transformation when the time is right. That’s because the power of flowing energy is greater than the power of head on resistance. Head on resistance tends to result in either defeat or conquest, and when you think about it conquest is only the flip side of defeat — so your choices with head on resistance are in some sense defeat or defeat. But the same situation stays in place. With the power of flowing energy, you don’t get a defeat or defeat situation. Instead, you get a whole new ball game. That’s the kind of transformation we Scorpios love… :-)

rocks at Futamigaura

Cards for the Day: R’d 3 of Chalices/R’d Knave of Chalices: Wedded Rocks and the Sky Deity

Three of Chalices reversed--Samurai TarotKnave of Chalices reversed--Samurai TarotToday’s cards were an education to me. In the Samurai Tarot, the Three of Chalices is represented by Izanagi and Izanami, the wedded rocks at Futamigaura. According to legend, the Japanese islands are all the children of these two rocks (and the Samurai Tarot book notes that this card represents “creation”). The sacred rope, or shimenawa, that connects them weighs about a ton, and is made of braided rice stalks.

Then we have the Knave of Chalices, represented in the Samurai Tarot by Tenjin (literally “sky deity”), the deified form of Sugawara no Michizane. Tenjin has become the Shinto god of calligraphy, literature, and scholarship.

To me, the appearance of the god of scholarship along with wedded rocks is a sign to look closely at nature. How many of us ever before considered the possibility of rocks getting married? But rocks have a strong energy and are individuals. What can we learn from Izanagi and Izanami? What can we learn from the very idea of Meoto-iwa, wedded rocks? Can you feel the rock nature within you? in what way, if you are married, could (or should) your own marriage be considered a marriage of rocks? what wisdom can rocks bring to us about the institution of marriage? I have some ideas about this, but I think Tenjin is challenging us all to look into this matter ourselves.