The Loss of Beauty

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It’s so easy to lose your beauty. I’m not talking about that which time steals. I mean the part deep inside that knows magick is real and stares in wonder at the bumblebee landing on the dandelion.

We have it as children but it fades with each “grow up” we hear or every bit of ugliness we see. We become adults who pretend to see beauty but it’s a faded replica of what we knew as children.

Why is it better to know that Santa’s not real and the Tooth Fairy is really your parents? When did believing in fantastical reality become a sin? We laugh at the dad playing tea party with his daughter or the mom throwing a baseball with her son. When did bouquets of dandelions fall out of fashion?

A short time ago I decided to try to find my beauty. Like Frodo, I’m on a wondrous adventure. Sometimes my journey is fill with amazing friends while other times I’m achingly alone. I’m off to conquer Mordor, the burden of a gold ring known as Reason weighs down my steps. I hear “you can’t” or “that’s not reasonable” or “be mature” like arrows tipped with dots of poison.

Each day I scan the skies for the dragons I know are there. I search the honeysuckle tree for my fae friends. The dragonfly whispers its message to me.

“Beauty is there,” he says. “Just look and see.”

A New Day

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I’ve made a decision. I’m starting a new religion because I’m tired of people waving their religions around like a mace and bashing people in the head with it. That shit belongs on the set of Game of Thrones not real life and certainly not in politics. So, I’m making a new religion. One that, hopefully, will let people live and worship in peace. Like any religion, though, it has to have rules so here goes;

  1. Worship as you will. It doesn’t matter what building or park or house or pool or bar you go to commune with your god. It doesn’t matter if you wear a scarf, a colander, a yarmulke or even a stuffed ferret on your head. It doesn’t matter if you kneel, dance, do a jig or wave knives in the air. What matters is your relationship with your god. If that relationship is comfortable (it should feel like two old friends going out for a beer type of comfortable) then you’re doing it right. However, just because you have that level of comfort with your god doesn’t mean you get to force others to believe what you do. Don’t get all pissy because others want to worship their own gods.
  2. Ask questions and seek answers. Your god gave you a brain to use. Stop turning it off and do what you’re supposed to do. Question everything. Keep seeking answers. For the love of all that’s living, keep learning. Respect scientists for it’s their job to ask questions and seek answers. Protect them. Listen to them. Remember that teachers come in all forms and not all of them may be human. It is your job to hear what they’re teaching you.
  3. Reaffirm your connection to the world and the universe. You are a part of a species called humans. Reconnect with your species. ALL OF THEM. You are a part of this world. Examine your world and understand your place in it. Know that you are not the pinnacle of anything simply because you’re bipedal or have opposable thumbs.
  4. Live a balanced life. The Universe loves balance in all forms. Light/dark, good/evil, hot/cold… everything comes in balance. Live your life accordingly. Remember that true balance is not stagnation. True balance is motion and growth. The tree is balanced between its roots in the earth and its branches that stretch to the sky and it is always growing. When you find your balance, and it is unique to you, then you can become a truly aware being and true growth can happen.
  5. Respect your world. Respect the Earth. This is the only one you have. Care for it. Love it. Heal it. For you are a child of the Earth and it is your duty to respect and care for it.
  6. Use the tools given to you. Mankind has created such wonders as science, medicine, technology. Don’t turn your back on them simply because you believe they’re “not natural” or anti-spiritual. The very act of creating is a spiritual act of itself. Respect that. There are many, many tools available in the world. Some come from the Earth itself, others come from humans. Respect them all and use them wisely.
  7. Love. Love yourself and others. Every creature on this Earth has a life and a right to live that life. If you find that you cannot love someone then move on and cause no harm to them. Know that when you love yourself deeply, you will realize what a wondrous and miraculous creature you are. Magick lives within you if you only want to see it.
  8. Live fully. You were given the gift of life. Use that gift to its full advantage. Experience all that life has to give you and let it guide you. Do not waste this life thinking there’s another waiting for you if you only perform the right rituals. This life is here and now. Don’t waste it by worrying about what the future may or may not have.
  9. Be fierce in your protection. Not all in the world is pure and good. Evil exists. Not in some mystical, magical way but in a very real, very immediate sense. It is your duty to protect your world, your loved ones and yourself by speaking out, by making a difference, by doing. Do not assume others will do it for you. Even a small voice can be heard in the silence.

This is my religion. I invite you to follow with me.

Tarot and Writing – Part 4

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Folks, I apologize for being so late with this post. It’s been an odd week and I’ve been playing catch up. But here we are so let’s begin.

Okay so now you have a basic idea what the tarot is all about. Now what? Now comes the challenge to all of this. How do you get the ideas from the tarot into your head? Once you learn how to do it, it’s simple. In this part we’re going to concentrate on simply learning to see the card.

google-eye-trackingThis is an image of how the eye sees a Google page. The red areas indicate where the eye looks first. Those of us who read English will automatically look to the upper left hand corner of the page first. That’s because English is written on the page from left to right, top to bottom. If we were speaking Japanese, our eye would go to the bottom right hand corner.

This automatic reaction is gold to marketing firms. They know where to put the important information so it grabs your attention right away. However, for us, this is a problem.

The tarot isn’t designed with a left to right, top to bottom kind of thinking. Rather, the tarot is wholistic (no, that’s not a spelling error. It means all-inclusive, to include the mind, body and spirit) and central dominated. The image on the card starts in the centre and spirals outward as in this picture of the Fool.

The Fool - Thoth Tarot Deck

If you look at this picture, you will see that most of the activity is focused on the centre. Take your eye and look closely at that centre point where the butterfly, the dove and the vulture spiral around him. Then move your eye outward to slowly take in the whole picture.

There is a lot going on in the picture and you should take your time. Let yourself see each image before moving outward. This isn’t easy as our tendency is to want to jump ahead to see everything. If this is what your eye tends to do, then let it but go back to the centre point and really see the individual images there before trying to put them together as a whole. A useful exercise is to take a pen and paper and write down the individual images you see on the card. Don’t forget to include colors and shapes. Be as specific as possible.

Although this exercise can be frustrating, it can be useful in more than using the tarot to generate ideas for your writing. By learning to really see what’s in front of you, you gain a better picture of the world around you. By being able to see the details, you train your eye to look for those same details in your everyday life.

For example, when driving your brain filters out most of the information. By learning to be more aware, you may be able to see that driver who’s about to cut you off before he does it. Or you may see that dog running out in the street before he does it.

Next week we’ll learn how to see the image as a whole rather than just its parts. It’s this section which will get us closer to being able to use the tarot to generate ideas not just in writing but in other projects as well.

Tarot and Writing – Part 3

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So in the first two parts of this series, I gave a basic understanding of what the tarot is and what it does. In this part I’m going to give a breakdown of the various parts of the tarot. It’s a general overview of what’s to come. I will explain what the tarot is comprised of and a general understanding of its importance to the overall system. No, you don’t actually have to know this to use the tarot in your writing. I’m simply giving this information so you can use it in the future if you like.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana of any tarot are the heart of the system. Consisting of 22 cards, they speak about life events.

At this point I have to make a distinction. In our lives there are different kinds of events that occur. One type is “life events.” These events are those moments when our lives are at a pivot point. We all have them and we don’t always recognize them because sometimes a life event can be a small, seemingly insignificant, moment. It can be a simple as making a left turn instead of a right and bumping into a friend you haven’t seen in years. These life events cause your life to alter its course and take you in a new direction. They happen all the time and that’s natural.

Major Arcana talk about life events or people that cause life events. These cards have an effect on how the cards around them are read. They impact everything around them.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana are significant in a different way. These cards talk about influences and events that happen around you. Think of them as the supporting cast. When you watch a movie, for example, you never think of who is taking care of the props yet without them the movie would suffer a great deal. The Minor Arcana are similar. These are events and people moving in and around your life in a more subdued way than the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana are divided into four groups.

Cups

The suit of cups talks about emotional issues. It corresponds to the heart and water is its element.

Wands

The suit of wands talks of passion and creation. It corresponds to the stomach where your instinct dwells and fire is its element.

Swords

The suit of swords is about the intellect, logic and reason. It corresponds to the head and air is its element.

Disks/Pentacles

The suit of disks or pentacles, as it’s sometimes called, talks a lot about money. However, it also talks about physical needs and more concrete elements in your life. It corresponds to the root chakra or the base of the spine and its element is earth.

Next time I’ll start to break down the tarot even further. If you wish to have the individual card meanings, then I will recommend some books and websites at the end of this series. For now, this surface level understanding is really all you need to use the tarot in your writing.

 

Tarot and Writing – Part 2

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Okay, so part one was all about learning that the tarot can be used for more than just telling the future. In fact, the tarot doesn’t actually help foretell anything. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that tarot readers understand but they don’t generally tell you. It is impossible to foretell the future. Doesn’t happen. Instead, what the tarot does is tell you likely outcomes given your situation and state of mind at present.

Wait a minute. You mean nothing mystical’s going on?

Nope. All that’s happening is that the cards present to you possibilities given where you are at present which depends on what has happened in the past. So what does that mean and how does it pertain to your writing.

There are 78 cards in a standard tarot deck (I understand there are some non-standard tarot decks but for my purposes we’re cheerfully ignoring them). This is comprised of 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. Each of those cards embodies an archetype of some form or another. What that means is that those archetypes are going to ring with some aspect of your life. This is where many dismiss the tarot as being without merit or a fool’s game. If that’s where you leave it then you’ve missed the point of the tarot and I’m going to let you in on its secret.

The tarot’s images are meant to speak to the reader. The reader then interprets them based on a number of factors; your reactions, the cards surrounding it, questions they’ve asked ahead of time. There are many readers out there who are very good at what they do and they have my deepest respect but the tarot is meant to be a personal device, not mediated through another.

When you see a tarot card, there is something in the image that speaks to your inner self. You may focus on a color or how the image is placed. At first you are probably unaware of how this image rings with your deeper self. However, it is there and it is this inner awakening that makes the tarot ideal for helping you to generate ideas.

As we go in this series, I will show you how to take that unconscious recognition and make it conscious. I recommend you get a tarot deck for yourself. As I’ve said in my previous post, I recommend the Thoth tarot deck as the images are ideal for this sort of work. However, you can choose another if you’re more comfortable with them. The problem will be that when I get into the individual cards, you will get lost as Aleister Crowley altered the Thoth deck significantly. The closest to this deck would be the Rider-Waite deck but I still recommend the Thoth deck.

Next time I will delve a bit deeper into the connection between the self and tarot and how to use that connection.

 

The Tarot and Writing

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Thoth Tarot Deck

Thoth Tarot Deck

When I first began writing fiction, something happened that I didn’t expect. I hit a wall. A big, steel, high as fuck wall. I’d been writing articles for years before having to take a hiatus to care for my parents. I still kept writing but it wasn’t fiction. Small things; poems, true stories, weird events; things like that. Writing fiction, though, is a different horse. It has six legs and can be a mean mother fucker. Rather than give up, I did what any writer would do and tried to write past the wall.

Every writer has encountered that wall. Whether you’ve been at it for a day or for 50 years, that wall is big and dark and it has your name written all over it. When it happened to me, I had an ally I didn’t expect; the tarot deck.

As it happened, I was using the Thoth Tarot deck at the time. Designed by Aleister Crowley, it was fundamentally altered from the traditional Rider-Waite deck in some very significant ways. It was these alterations that helped me fight that wall.

Crowley believed that the tarot decks used up to that point were flawed. He believed that to keep the whole magick system secret, the designers of the decks changed things. So, he changed them back. Typical Crowley, really.

What Crowley understood, and I came to learn, was that the tarot was a tool but a flawed tool was useless. Because of it’s unique quality, I came to use the deck to blast through that wall known as WRITER’S BLOCK. It’s the very changes that make the Thoth deck uniquely designed to do just that.

In this upcoming blog series, I will show you, my faithful readers, how to use the Thoth Tarot deck to blast through your own walls. No, you don’t actually have to be a writer to get use out of it. I will show you how to use the deck to generate ideas that will enable to you to move forward on projects, ideas or just in life. This isn’t mysticism, it’s just common sense that anyone can use whether you use the tarot or not. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge. You don’t need crystals or know how to meditate. All you need to do is learn how to look and see what’s in front of you.

As I will explain later, I use the Thoth tarot deck because it’s uniquely designed. You’ll come to learn (and love) this design. I recommend you use the same deck and if you choose to change to another deck, do so after the series which I will post once a week.

Welcome.

 

Evolution

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2016 has been a horrific year. Between mass murders, deaths, racial tensions and Donald Trump; I keep hoping the gods will jump out and say, “just kidding!!” However, that will never happen. No powerful being is going to pull us out of this one no matter how many prayers you throw at the dead and dying. It’s up to us to change the direction of our destiny.

We have an opportunity here to do something amazing. To be more than we are and we can do it one person at a time but it won’t be easy. Evolving is painful and difficult but if humanity is to survive, we have to do it. Each person can have a hand in it and know they helped humanity to move forward. To evolve.

First I ask you to set aside your religious beliefs for a moment. I’m not saying give them up but, rather, just put them in a box to the side for a bit. Be human before you put on the mantle of your Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism or Wicca or whatever. Put all that to the side and just be human without the help of gods or written words or holy men. Just, for a second, be human in all its frailties and foibles. Be human in all its glory and wonder. Just be human.

Second, put aside your things. Oh, I know, they’re important things. Houses and cars and clothes and boats and bikes and… things. Just put them aside for a moment. They’ll still be there when you return. I promise. Just put them on the shelf for a second so you can remember your humanity without the burden of things.

Third, the next time you come across a living creature, take a look at it. It might be a person, it might be a butterfly or a dog or a monkey. Just look at them without the tint of religion or the white noise of things. See them. Know that they are struggling to live just like you. Understand that they have as much right to be on this earth as you.

Now look at the world around you. See it for the first time without the noise of society and religion and things. Understand that you’re an intricate part of that whole. That your place in that whole matters. It matters without the religion and the words and the things and society. You matter. You’re important.

The last part that I ask you to do is the hardest. Take up your religion and your things. Now see them as you have the rest of the world. Some will hold up to your scrutiny and some won’t. You have to decide what to do with them.

One thing I will tell you is that once you see the things and the religions without the white noise of what “should” be, they will start to look very different than you once assumed them to be. It’s not that they’re unimportant or wrong but that they may not have the shape and size they once had in your life and that’s ok. It’s when this happens that the truly important things can enter your life. Things like a love of life, an acceptance of that which is different from yourself, respect and love for yourself and others. True love and respect, not the mouthings we voice daily.

I challenge everyone to try this. 2016 should teach us something important; that we matter, that we are part of a whole. Unless man evolves beyond his infantile ways and temper tantrums, we will not survive.

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