Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Two of Wands and The Universe

January 26, 2015: The Two of Wands, Message in a Bottle, by Tania Pryputniewicz

I took a look at this month’s Thoth Two of Wands with its red-faced grumpy Tibetan doorjies set against a blotchy uteral pink mess of a background suffused with a Kindergarten sky blue and decided to focus on the Rider Waite image instead. The Rider Waite Two of Wands features a cloaked figure holding a staff she rests on a low stone wall; in her other hand sits a tiny replica of the world. Firmly planted behind her is a second staff. I love that she’s holding a world while standing on the ground of her larger world and looking out across the sea. Is she getting ready to step over the stone wall and pass the village on a trek to the sea? Will she set her world down at water’s edge to float aross to foreign shores? Will that world be translated and welcomed by hands on opposite shore?

Metaphorically this feels like an accurate depiction of how I felt in December joining Tracking Wonder’s #Quest2015, a group of business artists looking to collaborate and grow under the stewardship of a man named Jeffrey Davis (now leading us on a #LivetheQuest leg). His introductory video caught my eye—supine on his back in a swath of grass, he sports a pair of vibrant red trousers. The aerial angle of the opening frame conveys a playful sense of welcome, the red fabric a clear message of vitality and an invitation to step outside of familiar adornment.

Joining Tracking Wonder felt a lot like taking my little world in my hands and offering it again—not just to my quiet blogging channels, but out to a vaster, foreign sea. And having to trust the world would be delivered intact. If the wands represent creativity, like the figure in the card, I feel balanced, a wand behind me representing years of writing on a regular basis, and the wand grasped in hand and balanced on the stone wall representing a step up in camaraderie and play, which can only yield new vistas. Notice the warmly cloaked figure wears sturdy boots and a red hat, wearer invigorated, joyful and passionate.

I sense stillness too in this card. A waiting for more good. I sense this in my own body. A calm joy in paired adventures, like this one with Mary for which two of us are publicly co-blogging about our private journey with the Tarot. Angeles Arrien attributes to this card an “optimal balance of energy or sense of sovereignty or being comfortable in your domain.” It mirrors the peace I feel about Tarot for Two, our two voices mingling with the myriad bloggers online inhabiting countless territories. To thrive, one launches one’s ships, and one also looks out to the horizon to receive what is being offered from across the sea, our online version of a “Message in a Bottle.”

Now I'm drawn to revisiting that Thoth Two of Wands with crimson doorjies in front of pink uteral sky. It reminds me of other pinks in cards Mary and I talk about as relating to female problems like the Thoth five of swords and the other one with sludgy cups—maybe I’m thinking of the 8 of cups with its peach-grey desolate horizon line. Ironic that now with two minutes to spare--Mary likely calling any second to say our writing window is up and it’s time to throw cards and select a new card for the month--wouldn’t you know it, the Thoth deck card is “talking to me.” And reminding me I’m still working through female problems in my writing and accurately reflecting that I often feel at the mercy of wounds that just won’t heal.

Then I look again to the Rider Waite figure, so gently poised. And realize that both Rider Waite and Thoth images feel accurate. I go in, dislodge a little of that stuck female problem past, and a little more Kindergarten sky blue emerges. The squinched up doorjie faces make me smile still--they look like twins in a time-out. Perhaps internal twins I’m trying to merge. I can rage through my time-out or take stock calmly and put on that red hat and face the sea.

January 26, 2015: The Universe by Mary Allen

My card this month was the Universe.  I used to get this card fairly often about twenty years ago, around the time I sold my book in an almost magical way and bought the house I live in now with the advance.  Back then I thought the card was telling me that the universe was waving its big old wand over my life and maybe it was, but the manifestations I thought I was going to get as a result didn’t quite manifest, I went back to being in a seven of swords (“futility,” according to the Thoth deck, which has words at the bottom of all the minor arcana), five of cups (“disappointment) kind of place, and the Universe didn’t show up much during all those years.  Now here it is back again, and I wonder what it’s saying to me this time. 

            Angeles Arrien says that the Universe card “symbolizes the unity of positive and negative forces both internally and externally,” that the naked woman grabbing a sickle in one hand (she’s a hermaphrodite, according to Angeles Arrien, but I prefer to think of her as a woman and besides, she has breasts) while holding onto a snake/wheel with the other hand – that she uses the sickle to cut through limitations and become free and move forward, and that we, like the diamond-back snake that shows up in the card, are “required to transform before we can experience new worlds internally and externally.” 

I’ve always thought this card, which is the last card in the major arcana cycle, said you were at the end of a cycle, that you had burned off all the bad karma of that particular cycle, and that you have the wheel of your own life in your own hands now.   And I would say that there’s some truth to both of those interpretations in terms of where I find myself in my life at this particular moment:  I’ve used EMDR – my particular sickle – to cut away most of the inner limitations that were making it impossible for me to move forward – it turned out, back in 1995, when I got that big book advance and I thought I was going to be a bestselling author from then on, that I had way, way too many deeply buried fears and doubts and self-hatreds to be able to go off into the world and thrive while succeeding.  And I do feel that I’m at the end of my long cycle of inner work – not that I won’t have to do inner work any more, but that I’ve changed as a result of all the work I have done:  I feel peaceful, healed, complete inside, for the most part anyway.

            And, I have to say, the Universe card has been talking to me this month in an everyday way in the everyday world.  This month my book The Rooms of Heaven, which has been around and pretty much languishing without much of anybody paying attention to it, for fifteen years, somehow found its way onto a Best Nonfiction of 2014 list put out by Tin House.  Maybe not the end all and be all of success but not nothing to dismiss at either, plus it feels like a little wink from the universe.  And also this month, I used money I got from my sister – a quarter of my sister’s retirement account, because she died, of ALS, before retirement age – to update my kitchen, the kitchen of the house I bought back in 1995 and haven’t had the time or the energy or the attention, not to mention the money, to fix up since.  I had my kitchen painted a pale luminous celestial blue – once in a trance, during my first set of encounters with the magical universe inside of us, in an even earlier cycle of my life, I saw an ugly green desk blotter turn a beautiful celestial blue, a blue a little bit like the color of my kitchen walls now. 

I put new wood floors down in my kitchen too, and a few days later, during EMDR, I saw a little vision of a wide glossy hardwood floor in my newly-refurbished –through-the-grace-of-EMDR interior, and the message I got along with the vision was that there’s a floor now between my unconscious and the upper air of my life, and now I can move on without my old deep fears and self-hatreds seeping up out the basement, ruining everything I encounter.  I can move on to wherever I’m going and fill the upper part of my house – my life in the world, in the upper air -- with new things. 

I don’t know what those new things are, don’t know what the universe is going to bring me now or even if it’s going to bring me anything.  But I do feel, somehow, the “completion and integration of great inner work,” as Angeles Arrien would put it, and I feel more than ever before that I am “not only at home in the external world but also at home within myself.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Ten of Cups and The Ten of Disks

December 15, 2014: The Ten of Cups by Mary Allen

My card this month is the ten of cups, satiety in the Thoth deck, which shows many cups, ten cups, with water pouring out of them into the cups below.  The image on the Rider Waite ten of cups is more detailed, with a couple with their arms around each other, two children playing, a house in the distant background.  This card stands for deep emotional fulfillment, I read recently, and the ability to love deeply in all areas of life, and although I had a fair amount of icky troubling things – medical tests that freaked me out, my friend drinking again for a while – none of them was disastrous -- my friend stopped drinking after a few days and seems to have used the slip to have deepened his recovery and his resolve to stop drinking, the medical tests just showed stuff like high cholesterol – I think I can safely say that for the most part, in the month and a half since I pulled this card as my card of the month, it has been accurate.  

My friend Dave Rogers even said, “You have it all,” one day when he and I were finishing up having Sushi in a new restaurant downtown and I called my boyfriend on my cell phone and then told Dave I was going over to my boyfriend’s house for a little while.  And although I’m a little superstitious about saying so, I think Dave was right:  I have a relationship that works pretty well with a few minor glitches, friends -- lots of friends, in fact a whole community in a town I still love -- work that’s satisfying and even starting to pay a little, writing that I’ve made time for two days a week with books pouring out of me – at this point there are five of them in various stages of completion.  I even have a little doggy as well as two cats, the doggy stays over at John’s house and leaves me and the cats alone during most of the week.  And, best of all, there’s service involved in it all, or a lot of it anyway.  Last night I talked to three people I sponsor on the phone.  One of them was Mark W., and I helped him get to a better spiritual place around a big meeting at his company, and then we discussed the fact that he’s going to hire me to do a little consulting around him and time (one of my many projects is a book about making peace with time.)  This morning I talked to another person I do spiritual work with, my dear old friend Kathy, whom I check in every day with about how we’re using our time on this day (I don’t just help her, she helps me too) and then a little later this morning I helped one of my coaching clients write an open letter to cops about suicide prevention.

Years ago, when I sold a book for a lot of money, I had a vision of what success would look like for me:  being on the best seller list, money pouring in, ego gratification papering over my broken sense of self.  I didn’t get any of those things.  I got a whole lot of healing instead, and then I got this:  this kind of success.  In my not so great moments it still doesn’t exactly feel like success – I wish I had a boyfriend who was a big time author, a prestigious teaching job, everyone wanting to publish my writing.  But in my better moments I can hear the message of this card, fully, completely, and know that the life I got is truly the life I’ve always wanted.  That I’ve come to love deeply in all areas and have deep life satisfaction.  And there’s always the chance that one of my books will be a bestseller, or at least I’ll get a good review in the New York Times, tomorrow.

September 26, 2014: The Ten of Disks by Tania Pryputniewicz

Oh happy little Ten of Disks, with your gold coins in the shape of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life! I remember in graduate school when I first read about the Kaballah I loved the sound of the esoteric names for each sphere: Ain Soph, Binah,--the only two I can haul up from memory on the spot. I cut off a door-sized sheet of butcher paper, thinking that if I painted the Tree of Life large enough, body-sized, and wrote down life goals all around each orb, maybe the knowledge would pass right into me and I’d be somehow above the mundane particulars of figuring out how to cobble together a way to earn a living as a writer.  I painted the Tree in arcs of red late into the night, two sections of my very first Interpretations of Literature, brimming with incoming freshman, waiting for me to teach on the other side of sleep.

My first knowledge of the Kabbalah came from a much-loved friend of the family, Suzanne, lovingly known to us as the book woman. She ran a beautiful bookstore on the Russian River and sent me, a little hesitantly--at my request for books on the Kabbalah--Dion Fortun’s The Mystical Qabalah. She included in the package another book called, A Witch Alone which basically offered a four senses definiton of a witch as a person learning the lay of the land around her and its native plants and histories, someone using her intuition and raw materials to understand her place in the world. Suzanne wrote me a note to the effect that she sent both books because “before we learn systems designed by other minds, we should first listen to the body we were born with, for it too has innate wisdom.”

Usually when the Ten of Disks falls, I skip over the traditonal functioning definition, the own word on the bottom of the card: Wealth, as in money, preferring to read the cards for their spiritual aspects. As in harvest of the wealth of the mind, or love, or the heart, but today I’m happy it does represent the wealth of opportunities coming to me after as I stand poised on edge of a year of teaching writing workshops in support of November Butterfly.

I think this Ten of Disks might also refer to the net of support given by the organizations I teach for now, their advertising efforts to fill classes that in turn allow me to just show up and teach. Daily I get as far as I can: I rise to write, send copies of the book out for review, and draft marketing emails before the school day ends for my children and my taxi duties begin. One child needs a ride to cross country practice, the other to kickboxing; an hour later the runner changes out of running clothes to rummage for soccer shin guards which affords me the chance to put a frozen lasagna in the oven…in time to pick up the kickboxer… to settle in for a long night keeping the daughter company as she finishes her New England colonies spread sheet, wading through economics, how many people died from mosquitos, defining taxation without representation.

I could either be grumpy for the crazy driving loop or grateful we have the financial means for the three children to pursue their passions. I’m grateful to deposit a paycheck from my teaching, modest as it is, that helps bridge us after paying rent. I’m grateful for the Ten of Disks gold, for the green rims of the coins so like the bright green grass our Husky crosses when we walk her over the manicured lawns of our neighboorhood where homeowners’ dues pay gardeners. I’m grateful we live in a tended garden and that, by the grace of God, I have time to tend children and poems. The gold of the coins also transports me to the Midwest corn, landscape of the next book’s set of poems in progress about an Illinois commune. Kernels of corn, coin, to mine.

Look closer and you see there are pale violet coins in the background to cash, rimmed in red, like uteral blood, without symbol, waiting to be writtten upon. Maybe they are all falling, unordered, the fertile chaos before they take form to shape the Tree of Life, once as I’ve lived it, and once again in words.