Major Arcana. Major turning points

Strength card interpretations: Fortitude / Courage / Resourcefulness / Commitment / Self-confidence
“Think of important moments in your life. Choose a Tarot card to represent each experience.” This was the exercise offered by one of my Tarot mentors, Ferol Humphrey.

Three of us did as she suggested. We arranged our picks in chronological order and narrated our life’s highlights to one another.

Strength, 3 ways

All three of us included the Strength card. One, to represent her discovering a special affinity with animals in distress. Another, to represent her realization that one can choose not to fight without being weak.

For me, Strength represented my relationship with my skin. A decade ago, 40-year-old me faced yet another encore of disfiguring cystic acne. It proved a turning point in my life.

The battle I couldn’t win

Over the years, I’d tried any number of poisons to do away with this genetic condition. Nonstop antibiotics were the norm through my teen years, along with treatments involving sunlamps or dry ice, surgical lancing and occasional local steroid injections. Twice, I bombed my system with Accutane, once at age 21 and again at 30. (Sizable lawsuits have since forced the drug off the market.)

At age 40, the mirror once again reflected a familiar, hated landscape of redness, inflamed sores and distorted facial features. I could no longer kid myself there was any “conquering” cystic acne. I was going to have to befriend it.

So rather than seek a doctor crazy enough to prescribe a third round of Accutane or its equivalent, I sought a more holistic approach. With the help of a naturopath (who was also a skilled esthetician), I’ve come into a place of sustainable balance.

When Strength calls for surrender

Fighting against my condition kept me angry, resentful, fearful and occasionally mean. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and I took it out on everyone, including me.

Strength meant having the courage to lay down arms and try to understand my body. Strength meant having the patience to let small changes show their effects over time. Strength meant taking responsibility for my body’s nourishment rather than ask a doctor to fix me.

Being ashamed of my skin diminished me. With Strength, I can appreciate that my skin will forever show me — and everyone I meet — when I’m out of balance.

What have you done with Strength?

Think of important moments in your life. Is there a Strength moment among them? What did it teach you? How did it change you?

At some point in our lives, we experience all 22 cards of Tarot’s Major Arcana — it’s why they’re Major. Turning points. Game changers. Some fill us with gratitude, others leave us with scars. And some, like my Strength experience, do both.

Would you like clarity or insight on something in your own life? I offer personal readings and would be glad to help.

Just won’t float

When I say I’m not the woman I was at 25, usually it’s because today’s 50-year old version of me feels freer, more confident and happier than I could imagine in my twenties. But recently, I freaked out in a spa’s floatation tank. It’s made me think about what personal growth really means.

Unsinkable in a mere foot of water

The spa promised an hour free of gravity’s shackles. I’d float like a cork in womb-like darkness in 300 gallons of water, saturated with more than a thousand pounds of Epsom salts, in a human-sized tank. The tank was soundproof and utterly dark. No distractions. Thanks to the body-temperature water, I’d soon lose track of where my skin ended and the water began.

Some might quail at the prospect, but I couldn’t wait. Back in the 80s, float tanks provided me a rare escape from my busy, busy brain.

When history fails to repeat

I had anticipated a spiritual experience, appropriate of the many ways I’ve evolved in the decades since my last float. Instead, I panicked before I’d even turned out the light.

Lying in the dark tank was out of the question, but I decided I’d use my hour in this warm, quiet place to enjoy some private meditation. Upright, I gained sufficient density to touch my bottom to the tank’s floor. I switched off the light, listened to my breath and released the need to wonder why 50-year-old me rejected something my nervous 25-year-old self had embraced so easily.

Sometimes it’s okay to be left in the dark

Why is a question I still haven’t answered. Perhaps it happened that way because I’m currently learning to recognize energetic boundaries, and so losing sense of my body would confuse me. Perhaps I was simply having a touchy day.

Perhaps why it happened that way matters less than that it did.

Turns out, growth isn’t linear

Fifty-year-old me went into the tank expecting to pick up where 25-year-old me left off. But if 25-year-old me had freaked in the tank, harsh self-criticism would have followed. Only with the perspective of age was I able to adapt to what was happening with presence and a new set of responses, rather than cling to my expectations and judge myself accordingly.

When I look at it that way, I reckon I had my spiritual experience after all.

Photo credit: From the official i-sopod website

Mirrors, mirrors. Aren’t we all?

People can be so annoying. Especially when they show me something about myself I don’t want to see.

It happened at a recent Meetup. One of my fellow students of Tarot read her cards with fluttering hands and plenty of mystical drama. Normally, I would chalk it up to personal style and perhaps find it amusing. This time, it irritated me.

Why? If I needed to justify my feeling, I’d point to the way she spouted prognostications as set-in-stone truths. This precludes free will and thus violates my code as a Tarot reader.

But that very afternoon, I’d rolled my eyes while telling a friend about a client’s infatuation with the mystical trappings commonly assigned to the intuitive and psychic sides of life.

What was my beef?

Time to look in the mirror

Truth is, I was once as infatuated as my client. And while I’ve not indulged in the kind of hand-fluttering as my fellow reader, I recognize it as a symptom of the same thing.

It seemed my irritation stemmed from being reminded of a version of myself I’ve left behind. But if I’d truly left it behind, I’d feel compassion rather than irritation.

My irritation carried the ugly whiff of judgment. And now that I’ve noticed it, other examples are popping up. They represent different areas of my past/beliefs/self-image. Facing these mirrors challenges me. It’s uncomfortable to admit to feeling judgmental, of myself and/or of others.

It helps to remind myself that I’ve grown–I’m experiencing these feelings from a perspective never before possible for me.

In other words, it’s okay to be where I am today. It’s merely my opportunity to embrace what I see in the mirror, and to appreciate the people who show it to me.

What are your mirrors showing lately? How do you handle it?

Photo credit (mirror): Elizabeth/Table4Five

Launching a new living adventure

I’ve just moved house for the first time in 14 years!

Because it’s not my first-ever move, I’m not counting the relocation as one of my birthday new things. But it’s the first time I’m moving into a house, rather than an apartment. And it’s the first time I’m going to be a roommate (other than college dorm living). Lots and lots of new things in store, I’m sure.

Thanks, campsite. I’m on my way

Today, I collected the last few things from the old place and turned in my keys. After having lived there so long, I thought I might feel pangs on leaving, but nope. It felt more like rolling out of a gorgeous campsite after a satisfying stay.

…but I offered a ritual farewell

Though I was tired and interested in moving on to all the unpacking awaiting me at the new place, I took a few minutes to sip a cold Blackberry Izze and really appreciate the empty shell that had been my shelter and sanctuary. I walked the perimeter of each room, expressing my thanks and wishing it well.

Heck, even my hibiscus plant expressed its gratitude. It was blooming today, blowing kisses all the way across town to our new home.

Life among stacks of boxes makes it easy to lose sight of how much I shed in preparation for this move. Even when I can’t see it, though, I feel it. I found new homes for about 60% of my furniture and half of my belongings.

I feel freed. Could this be what it means to become en-lightened? Hee!

Camper photo: Grand Canyon NPS
Hibiscus photo: mcdlttx

Our handsome prince prints

Your fingerprints are formed five months before you’re born. No hands carry the same prints as yours. And those same prints will be with you to your last breath.

Richard Unger believes your whorls, loops and arches provide invaluable tools of self discovery. He’s the founder of the International Institute of Hand Analysis and author of Lifeprints: Deciphering Your Life Purpose from Your Fingertips.

At its simplest, your prints place you in one of four life schools, here to learn either:

  • Joyful service
  • Emotional mastery
  • To commit to your ideas
  • To feel safe (peaceful) in your body and on the planet

Assigning the life school seems a matter of counting how many prints are arches or loops or whatever. The school provides the context or training ground for your life lesson and highest potential.

As for figuring one’s lesson and purpose, I gather that different fingers carry different ranks. A skilled reader can weigh the results and combine them to craft a full report.

I gave it a whorl

My friend PJ Spur, a gifted teacher/coach/counsellor, is studying the Lifeprints process. Her report on my hands provided lots to think about.

Right off the bat, my school surprised me. I’d guessed Wisdom. I was wrong, yet I can absolutely see the school my prints point to. (Turns out I’m all whorls and loops–only my sense of humor is arch.) The report includes some nice reassurance, too:

You cannot get to your Life Purpose without making Life Lesson errors. Not only can you not stop yourself from making certain types of miscalculations, it is actually in your interest to do so.

I’m still digesting the life purpose the report lays out. If I’d been given this report at age 30, I’d have laughed. Only a fraction of the material would make sense to me. (So I reckon it’s arrived with perfect timing.)

Closing meditations on what my prince prints revealed

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Unger’s system is accurate. The advice my report offered for mastering the lesson it spells out is sound. I suspect that if the system had delivered a different lesson, the advice would still be worth taking.

Throughout the system, there’s an emphasis on personal accountability, continuous learning and the willingness to embrace paradox. Pretty sound principles on which to build a life, in my opinion.

For that matter, every one of the life schools hold value. So I ask you, which of the four schools–service, love, wisdom or peace–would you guess your hands reveal for you?

Photo credit: Jennifer Lord Photography

Dreams of the missing body part

If you’ve ever put a part of you “on the shelf,” whether you did it consciously or unknowingly, you may relate to this one.

In my dream, I was a student in a perpetual state of rushing from one thing to the next. As I hurriedly collected my belongings to move to a new place, I discovered my midsection—a large section of my body, from my groin up to the bra band. I had removed it in some earlier rushed moment and thoughtlessly stashed among my stuff.

Now, here it was. Cold and clammy. And of all the things running through my dream self’s mind, from “ewwww,” to “uh-oh, I should have put that on ice to keep it fresh because I’m going to want to reattach it,” to “huh, it’s lighter than I expected it to be,” the most disturbing aspects to my waking self were that:

  • I had done it myself and didn’t want anyone to know. (Therefore, I was hesitant to seek help recovering it.)
  • I was in a hurry and felt annoyed to be faced with having to make a decision about this.

Unlike the dream about glass walls and turquoise, the meaning of this one eluded me upon waking. Some insightful friends have been helping me out, and here’s my current understanding.

When we give our power away

In addition to some fairly crucial organs and skeletal structures, our lower torsos are home to the second and third chakras, important personal energy centers. Removing them from my body was the same as giving away my creativity and personal power.

I’ll bet you can think of any number of occasions when you’ve done this. At one point, I had a job where I did this all day, every day. Willingly. Looking back, I don’t think the job required it. It was my choice.

Regardless, the dream said it’s time to reintegrate, to become whole, to take back the part of me I treated so carelessly. And yep, it feels scary and inconvenient. And yep, I feel a tad ashamed to have ever separated. But unlike my dream self, I’m confessing publicly.

Seeking hidden treasure

Do you have parts waiting to be rediscovered? Maybe they’re feelings that didn’t feel “safe,” so you’ve stashed them away. Or opinions that were pooh-poohed when you were younger.

How long has it been since you checked in with all that secret stuff? Could be there’s something there that’s ready for your loving acceptance. It’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it?

Photo credit: Alaskan Dude

Help upon awakening

If you are among the many of us experiencing a heart awakening, you’ve likely been overwhelmed by other people’s anxiety or fear. That’s why boundaries are important. But I don’t want to wall out everyone. I want to stay as open as possible—present and compassionate—without soaking up all the ick that folks are releasing.

So I’ve been asking for help, and this morning, I received it in a dream.

Objectively, the dream made no sense, but there was no question it carried a message. As soon as I woke, I wrote down all the details I could remember.

My turquoise dream

I stood inside…

  • A glass-faced building (like a car dealership), looking out through
  • Automatic sliding doors (like a grocery store).
  • A number of round turquoise balls (like Chinese lanterns)
  • Were hanging from the ceiling
What I took from it
  • It’s possible to be transparent to the world around you while still being protected. (Me in a glass structure.)
  • You can let things in and out as you choose. (The doors.)
  • Turquoise gem stones can provide exactly this kind of protection. (The lanterns.)
  • Try wearing them on your body, perhaps as earrings. (The ceiling.)

After writing this down, I went to check my gemstone book. Here’s a bit of what it said:
“Turquoise connects physical and spiritual awareness. Develops inner strength and calm. Stabilizes. Heals the emotions and the emotional body. Traditionally used for protection.”

You can bet I’m wearing turquoise earrings today!

If this information benefits you as well, I’m thrilled. Heck, once I catch a glimpse of your turquoise jewelry, I’ll even invite you into my glass house for a cup of tea. Just step on that mat—the door opens automatically.

Photo credit: futureshape