78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Get Lost

It is good to feel lost... because it proves you have a navigational sense of where "Home" is.  You know that a place that feels like being found exists.  And maybe your current location isn't that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.  
~Erika Harris

Looking out of the car window in the dark, nothing looked familiar.  I could hear my mom mutter under her breath.  One of us would inevitably ask the question, "Are we there yet?"  and then the snapped answer, "We're LOST!"  Gasp! Oh no! Our eyes would widen as we scanned the foreign land around us.  How will we make it home?  What will happen to us in this dangerous, unknown place?  "Lock the doors," Mom commanded.  We quickly obliged, then slunk down into the seats, not wanting the people of the outside to see us.  Sitting ducks.  Inevitably, being lost meant wandering through the "bad" parts of town.  Anything could happen.  We could run out of gas.  A gang of rabid squirrels could attack the car.  We  could keep going round in circles and not get out of there, wherever there was.  It's a scary,  frustrating thing being lost.

DruidCraft deck by Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington, Published by Connections 2005
Those were the days before GPS, before Google Maps. There were no cell phones.  Mom was a single mother and had no back up partner to call from a pay phone at a well lit gas station.  Being kids who didn't know how to drive or how we got to where we were in the first place, we were no help.  To the contrary, I'm sure we made her feel even more vulnerable and our nervous questions added to her own anxiety.  She had to figure it out on her own and though my mother has many talents, a sense of direction is not one of them.  I remember hanging over the front seat during one of these "adventures" and making the observation, "You know, Mom, whenever we get lost, we always end up home eventually."  This made her laugh and relax a little.  "Yeah, " she said, "We do.  We always do get home."

The thing about getting lost is that it just happens.  You can't make it happen, I've tried.  I've intentionally taken wrong turns, driven until the road ends, went places I had no idea where they went to, and still mostly knew where I was.  It's pretty much an exercise in bullshit trying to get lost, so I'd end up back home not feeling at all satisfied.  When you're truly lost it happens in what seems like a blink of an eye.  You're in familiar territory then all of a sudden you're not.  Nothing looks right.  It dawns on you that you have never seen that building, that road, that sign.  Uh oh.  So you try very hard to listen to your intuition to guide you out and you feel very strongly you need to take that turn, go that way.  So you do, and keep following your gut.  And you end up going in a big goddamn circle.  Now you've lost faith in yourself, your inner compass, and you really don't know how to find your way home.  Now it's at least an hour later and it's dark and you can't see the road signs. Not that they'd help you because you don't know the names and you don't know which one you're supposed to take.  One leads to a cul-de-sac, so you just turn around.  Another leads to a dead end.  Yet another ends up in someone's driveway.  You're getting more hopeless and frustrated but you know you can't stay where you are.  You don't belong there.  You begin to feel like prey.  Don't act lost, you think, someone will smell your fear.  Someone will take advantage of you.  You try to act like you belong there even though everything inside of you feels like a gnawing, nagging desperation that knows you don't.

What to do?  Might as well pray. Got nothing to lose. Please, God, show me the way home and I'll never get lost again!  Then you look around and keep your eyes peeled for a sign.  Nothing.  Crickets. A beautiful night sky blinks in starry silence. Fuck it.  Go.  This way.  Then that way.  Keep going.  Stop, get more gas.  Ask directions.  Get laughed at as they tell you the highway exit you've been looking for is a mile away.  That way.  Feel relieved and stupid at the same time.  Laugh at yourself.  Turn the radio back on, relax and go.  As you drive into familiar areas, you relax even more, turn the volume up and start dancing in your seat as you feel the stress of the evening leave your body as you sing along with the radio at the top of your lungs.  You know where you are.  You're home.

“Getting lost is just another way of saying 'going exploring.”
― Justina Chen, North of Beautiful 

Getting lost is an unnerving experience for many.  For others, it's an adventure. It's a matter of perspective and circumstances.  For my mother, the responsibility of four young children added to her stress because she felt responsible for our safety and well being, too.  If you're on your own and have no pressing external obligations or responsibilities, no one worrying about you being dead in a ditch, you're less likely to freak out.  If you have a lifeline like a cell phone or a GPS in your car, you're also less likely to panic.  If your internal compass leads you in the right direction the first time, it's all good.  But I don't consider those kinds of circumstances truly lost.  You're simply misdirected, misaligned, out of your way.  Being truly lost is to be without lifelines, directions, internal compasses, and sometimes even hope.

It gets harder and harder to literally get lost these days. The world is a smaller and smaller place and increasingly interconnected.  With all the franchise and chain stores in the strip malls and shopping centers, most towns look a lot the same.  While you may not know where you are, at least things look familiar.  Pull into the McDonald's and use the free WiFi and figure it out.  Get on Facebook and ask your friends. Google it.  Get instant answers.  We're not able to get lost these days it seems, except inside, except in life.  There isn't a roadmap for your inner journey.  No GPS for your life.  Your Facebook friends can't direct you.  That friendly guy at the gas station? Nope. And the stars just stare and blink, still silent.

And it's not even that you're stuck, but maybe running in circles.  There are plenty of roads, but not a clue which one to take. All the familiar storefronts are here, but it doesn't feel like home.  We can divine tarot for direction, but ultimately even that advice must resonate with your internal compass before you agree to take it.  Ultimately, in life as in being lost on the road, we just say "Fuck it" and go. Any direction different from the circles you've been going. Because it doesn't really matter which way you go as long as you go.  Because there's one thing you know: here is not home.  It may not feel like it, but this is a good experience.  Even as a child I knew we would make it home. Somehow.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.  ~Douglas Adams

Saturday, August 03, 2013

When Tarot Says Wait
Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
   -Khaled Hosseini,  A Thousand Splendid Suns 

 Tarot is a master of dilemmas.  One of the finest uses for tarot is sorting through the angles and what if's and projecting possible outcomes.  It's what makes it such a great tool for brainstorming and decision making.  So when the advice the cards give is to wait it can be extremely frustrating.  We've been waiting, hence the stalemate of the stubborn problem, and we decide to give tarot a go at the situation and even tarot is being stubborn! At first you might think tarot is being obtuse.  Like, no shit Sherlock, I already know I'm stuck, give me a freaking answer already!

There are several cards in the deck that indicate waiting.  The Hanged Man is probably the most obvious as he's got no other option.

Ambre Tarot by Florence Magnin, Phage Press 1994

In some ways, as frustrating as any kind of waiting can be, this kind of waiting is one of those "Oh well, may as well make the best of it" kind of times.  And with this card you really do make the best of the waiting time and come away from it better off.  What's more, you don't have to do much externally.  (Well, you can't anyway.) All the good stuff happens internally.  Your focus and perspective takes a major shift so when the waiting is over, you're all set to move forward.  Getting this card as a signal to wait is a bit easier because you already know if you're caught up like the guy in the card and there's nothing you can do.  It's nice to have this acknowledged by a tarot reading so you can accept the situation and get to the internal business rather than struggle against the ropes.  

The 4 of Swords is another kind of waiting.  

Fenestra Tarot by By Chatriya Hemharnvibu; Published by US Games 2006

The waiting in this card can be either self-imposed or externally demanded.  It indicates a time out either due to illness, imprisonment, a short retreat, even spending time catching up on desperately needed sleep.  Like the Hanged Man, it involves gaining perspective, indicated by the swords, as the mental blockade becomes less impenetrable during the time spent in rest.  This card advises stepping back and waiting so your mind has an opportunity to settle and in that time you will be better able to go back and deal with the issue.  With waiting, time seems suspended and that can be the most frustrating part.  Waiting is always less frustrating when we have something to do.  But doing isn't always active or physical, it can be mental doing that occupies the time. However, this card says we shouldn't even be doing that.  Stop tossing the problem back and forth in your mind for a while.  Let it just be and go take care of yourself.  Stop obsessing. 

And then we have the 2 of Swords:

DruidCraft Tarot By Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington; Published by Connections 2005
 If ever there was a dilemma card, this one's it.  It's not always indicative of indecision.  Sometimes it can be a conscious choice to remain neutral in a situation.  In terms of waiting, however, this card advises to take that neutral stance until a truth of some kind reveals itself that will undoubtedly break the stalemate.  That revelation often comes as the 3 of Swords, an unpleasant truth, but necessary to understand clearly before one knows what to think and do.  

Active waiting is another kind, somewhat better to deal with, but still frustrating to get in a reading.  The 7 of Pentacles can represent this kind:

Pamela A tarot deck

In the situation represented by the 7 of Pentacles, you've already put so much time, energy and investment into the situation but you're wondering if you should expend any more.  It may be starting to look like it was all a wasted effort and if you continue you may just be throwing good resources after bad.  Or maybe when you started you felt more positive about the whole thing but now, you're just not sure it's what you really want. And it's turning out to be a lot more work than you bargained for, too.  This card is full of doubt and wishful thinking.  Still, there's stuff you can do in the meantime while you're waiting for the situation to ripen.  Until something indicates it's time to go in a different direction, you can keep tending to the situation as you have been.  I wouldn't invest any more additional resources if you can help it, but just watch and wait to see if things turn out well (or not).  This means you'll still be busy, which makes the waiting somewhat more bearable.

Fours in tarot often show stillness, a time of unmoving stability.  The 4 of Cups is interesting because cups, emotions, are often anything but still:

Hudes Tarot By Susan HudesPublished by US Games 2002

Here's the kind of waiting that one does when you're just not feeling it.  You had hoped for more and you didn't get it.  There's disappointment and feelings of hopelessness.  These emotions have a way of dragging you down so you don't even want to keep trying or hoping.  Just fuck it, you think, I should just forget it.  But you can't.  So you wait until something happens to engage your emotions or passions again.  Waiting through this card can feel awful, so the advice would be to try not to be so pessimistic and look around you for opportunities you may be missing that would fill your cup again.  Take time to just sit with your emotions (or lack of them) and accept that we all go through times like this.  I definitely wouldn't make any decisions during this time.  Probably unwise.  So wait it out.

I really hate the next one, the 8 of Swords:

Robin Wood Tarot By Robin Wood; Published by Llewellyn 1991

Stuck.  So goddamn stuck.  I always get the sense that this woman didn't get into this predicament by herself.  While her own thoughts may be keeping her there, she's been hoodwinked and tied up, too.  It's as if someone has deceived her and she is now realizing she has been deceived but doesn't know what to do about it and can't find her way out of the deception.  The advice here isn't about waiting for rescue, because that isn't going to happen.  The waiting in this card is less about standing still any longer, but waiting on your own senses to engage and give you important clues how to release yourself.  This woman can use her sense of smell and hearing to gather crucial information.  She can smell the sea and hear the waves and know not to move in that direction.  She can feel the sand under her feet and take tentative, careful steps across the sand, feeling her way forward.  This card can also indicate you've been accepting of your victimization and it's now time to take some control.  This card can reveal why you have been waiting but it doesn't exactly advise to keep waiting.  It does, however, advise that whatever you decide to do, do carefully and calculatingly.  

Usually the 4 of Pentacles is viewed in a rather negative light, as a miserly, greedy, stubborn kind of energy.  But in terms of advice and waiting it can mean not these traits but something different:

Housewives Tarot By Paul Kepple; Published by Quirk Books

This is mine and you can't have any.  It's telling you to not give any of your stuff, your time, your resources, your attention.  Be stubborn and stick to your boundaries.  Don't give in.  It's not so much about waiting as about taking a stand and refusing to be manipulated or  victimized.  So if you're wondering what you can do about a situation and this card comes up as advice, don't do anything.  Don't give anything. Let them come to you, and even then, don't budge.  

While waiting is hard, really hard sometimes, when the advice is clear that waiting is the best course of action, er, non-action, we can at least use the time wisely and productively by following the other clues in the card's advice.  If we need to take a break from the situation, do that.  Take a long drive, go to a movie, whatever it takes to get away from the anxiousness of waiting.  If the card says just keep doing what you've been doing, then do that and try not to stress over what if's.  If you're supposed to start taking baby steps, take one.  Doesn't matter which one, just move in a direction.  If you can't actually do anything, try to see the situation from other perspectives.  A change of mind and understanding can actually be the key to getting unstuck.  Waiting is always difficult, but with something to do it seems to pass more quickly.