Choices in Perspective

Today (Sunday, when I’m actually writing this), was the Pier Street Market. It’s the Market that I read tarot at every Sunday (almost) from May-September, in lovely Campbell River, BC.

Market Comparison Walks WithinIt’s right on the waterfront, next to the pier. It’s an absolutely gorgeous location – beautiful sea breeze, view of the water and Quadra Island. And most of the summer, the weather is great. We have the odd occasion where the wind threatens to take out our tent, but we’ve had sun almost the whole season.

Except today. Today, autumn announced itself, with wind and rain. Close to half of the vendors (I think) backed out or just didn’t show up today. We even sat in the parking lot for a while trying to decide whether to stay or go, and if we stayed, how and where to set up.

We did stay, and really had to adapt for the weather. Because of the wind, the rain got everywhere, even inside the pop-up. Every gust spattered us inside the tent. (Admittedly, the pop-up is three years old, and it gets regular use in the summer, so the canopy is showing its age.)

We used our van as a brace, and bungee’d the legs to the tires. We used the curtains that normally make a privacy area for reading to make a canopy within the canopy, so the tarot cards would stay dry. We pulled the table back further into the tent, and didn’t put out all of our normal display to avoid damage.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And smiled at the hardy folks who came to the Market. And waited.

I thought to myself, “This is it. This is going to be the first day that I haven’t even made my table fees.”

This isn’t actually the first time that I have thought that. I have had quiet days in the past. The mental conversation typically goes something like this:

“Quiet day today. It’s still early. It will pick up. Today’s going to be the first day that I don’t make my table fees. Grr! That sucks. Focus on the positive. Be attractive. Maybe that person will come for a reading. No? I’m so angry. They’re going to ask for my table fees and it has to come out of my pocket. GRRR! Calm down. Relax. I can’t have lunch, because I haven’t made any money, and now I’m hangry, too. Great. ”

Et cetera, et cetera, working myself up into a tizzy of frustration and poor me. Which usually ends up as a lot of wasted energy, because I have always covered my table fees, at a minimum.

Today was different. The conversation started out the same. Up until the “Grr!” Today, it was, “Oh well. I’ve done well at other Markets, and that’s part of the risk of coming out.”

I actually maintained a positive expectation to cover the table fees. Yes, I dipped into doubt a few times, and I was able to bring myself back up easily. Even when the Market coordinator came to collect the fees, I was OK with it. I didn’t complain. I mentioned that we hadn’t done any business today, but not in the hope of not having to pay (like I sometimes have before). More as information for how the Market went overall.

I tried to work out the reasons we weren’t doing as well. Was it the weather? Was it our location? Was it because our tent was set back a little from the rest of the row? Was it because we had less on display? Did it really matter?

No. It didn’t. I was in a position of abundance instead of lack. Is positive thinking and a positive attitude a cure for all your ills? No. It still helps.

Sure enough, in the last half hour of the Market, I had two full length readings back to back that not only covered the table fees, they also covered the lunch my husband and I had. Thank you, Universe!

Blessings,

Mary

Opening to Sacred Sexuality

I’m a prude. Well, not entirely, though I do have quite a few hangups when it comes to sex and sexuality.

Working with Aphrodite for almost a year definitely helped bring healing to some of my issues, mostly around body acceptance, self-love, and appreciating my own beauty. For those things, I am immensely grateful!

Sex-positive-and-negativeI’m currently taking a class on Sacred Sexuality at the Wiccan Seminary. And I’m learning so much about myself, and working more on becoming more comfortable with the idea of being a sexual creature.

I was raised with the idea that sex is sinful, bad, and dirty, as many Westerners, especially Christians, are. Eve was the source of original sin, and so women bear the curse of Eve, being cast out of the Garden of Eden.

Sex education in school was partly gender education – what happens to your body as you go through puberty – and partly sex discouragement – if you have sex, you will get a sexually transmitted disease or pregnant or both. Masturbation is also bad, or at the very least, not encouraged.

Sex before marriage was taboo. Teenage pregnancy was shameful. If you had sex in high school, you were a stud if you were male, but you were a slut if you were female. And heaven forbid you actually enjoy it as a woman! Sex is only for the purpose of producing children.

Wicca is a fertility religion. It, and really most branches of Paganism that I have encountered, are sex positive, meaning sex is something that is joyful, and pleasurable, and natural, and even healthy, between consenting adults. “The Goddess [God] is beautiful in ALL Her [His] forms,” celebrates body positivity and acceptance.

That doesn’t mean that there are tons of wild orgies, or that we have sex at all our rituals, or that Pagans are promiscuous. (As always, that may be true of some individuals, though not a generality of the whole group.) If that were the case, I probably would have run screaming and never come back. It would have been too big a step for me to take.

This idea that sex is beautiful and natural, joyful and pleasurable, though, while I yearn for this, I still have a hard time with it sometimes. I find myself feeling guilt or shame around wanting sex, or not wanting sex. I’m curious to learn more ways to share and make love with my husband, and yet, I have a hard time even talking about sex with him. Sex magic intrigues me and scares me at the same time.

I’m still a baby on my journey towards sex positivity. I’m lucky to have some pretty great role models in the Pagan community, people who are comfortable in their bodies, who take joy in their lovemaking and aren’t afraid to talk about it, and even joke about it.

I’m probably going to get a ton of spam with all this talk about sex. I’m ready for that. We need to make it more open and less shameful. And the more positive information there is, the better.

What is your experience with sex and sexuality? Is it something you are comfortable with, or still have hangups about? I look forward to hearing your stories. Let’s get more positive conversations going!

Blessings,

Mary

A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

Last week, one of my children was missing. Overnight. It was one of my worst nights ever.

Missing Child FoundIt is extremely difficult to remain calm when a child is not where he is supposed to be. It’s a little easier when said child is 17, and nearly an adult, but not much.

On Wednesday last week, I was working late, and my eldest son was also at work, right next door. We were going to travel home together when I finished work.

My husband came to pick me up, and asked if I had seen the tallest boy. He hadn’t checked in with me, which he is usually very good about doing. Husband checked in with son’s work, and didn’t see him anywhere. I finished things up, and we had a look outside. Son was nowhere to be found.

At this point, I was a little worried, but not much. Son had put some things in our vehicle to be dropped off with one of his friends, so we went to that friend’s house. Maybe he went there.

Friend’s mom and dad were out in front of the house, talking with someone. They had not seen our son. We dropped off the stuff, and thought, well, maybe son took the bus home. I also texted that friend, to see if he had heard from our son.

There was no response from the friend. I texted my son, though he can only respond when he has a wifi connection. No response.

I did my best to keep my cool. He’s 17 years old. He is smart, he is strong, he is capable, and most of all, I trust him. And he’s usually very good at letting us know where he is, so this is out-of-the-ordinary.

We get ourselves some food, and I call more of his friends. No one has heard from him. It’s getting harder to stay calm. I stay up later than I ought to, trying to write a blog post and watching Netflix and really not giving either of them my attention.

We don’t have friend #1’s home phone number, and neither do any of the other friends. I reach out on Facebook to son and a couple of friends. No reply from son, and no friends have heard from him.

Husband figures he is with friend #1, and the cell phone battery is dead. That’s really my hope, too.

Son’s bank account is connected with mine, so I can see that he has used his debit card somewhere, but since it is after banking hours, I can’t see where. I do my best to reassure myself that he is smart, he is strong, he is capable, and most of all, I trust him. He is safe.

Every car that drives by I wonder if it is him being dropped off.

I finally go to bed, hoping he will come home, or contact us. When I wake up in the morning, after a pretty crappy night’s sleep. His bed is empty. My whole body feels heavy.

I get ready for work, and husband drives me in so he can go look for son. Other friends and their parents have offered to help look for him as well.

Sure enough, son is safe and sound at friend #1’s house. He’s been there all night. He had met friend while he was out walking the dog, and had joined him on the walk, which is why we missed him when we had checked the night before.

We now have friend’s home phone number, mom’s cell phone AND dad’s cell phone. And a promise from son to be better about letting us know where he is. As much because he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his friends and their parents again!

I’m so grateful my story had a happy ending. My heart breaks for all the parents who have lost their children.

Blessings,

Mary

Tarot Thursday: Two of Cups

This post has been sitting in draft mode for … far too long. I saw the lovely couple who modeled for this card this past weekend, and it motivated me to get off my butt and write this post.

2 of cups tarot card Walks Within ArtLoveLightThe suit of cups is about your emotions, your relationships – both romantic and otherwise – and dreams and intuition. It is associated with the element of water, so it can also indicate the subconscious, or what lies underneath.

Twos are about polarity and balance. Polarity is like a magnet – when two things that possess an opposite charge come near each other, they draw each other in like a magnet.

The two of cups shows a couple looking lovingly at one another, and raising their glasses in a toast to each other. The two colors from their cups combined create purple, a beautiful Union which twines up the caduceus into the head of a lions head with wings. He holds a golden rimmed cup and she holds a silver rimmed cup. A flash of light sparks where their cups clink together.

They stand on a peaceful sandy beach – water is lapping calmly and peacefully at their feet. They are barefoot, grounded in reality and trusting the earth to support them.

The two of cups is most often about a relationship (remember, this could be a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a business partnership) that brings out the best qualities in each person.

It is the relationship that completes you, or makes you both more than you are on your own.

Depending on where this card falls in your reading, it could mean that this is a relationship that you are attracting into your life, like that magnet.

Or it could mean falling in love with yourself and finding your own wholeness.

There is a lot of polarity in the colors in this card. Stereotypically, pink symbolizes feminine, and blue symbolizes masculine. The woman is holding a cup with pink liquid, and the man is holding the cup with blue liquid. However, the woman is dressed in blue and white like the water, while the man is dressed in yellow and red like fire.

We each have “feminine” and “masculine” traits (I actually prefer the terms receptive and projective because they aren’t gender specific) receptive and projective traits within us, and so it indicates that the two people in this card are balanced within themselves. Two balanced people coming together definitely creates a more balanced relationship!

Where the cups overlap, we see the liquid turns purple, often a color representing spirit, or that essence that is beyond and greater than the physical experience.

From the union of the cups (and the couple) rises a cadeceus, with a winged lion head. The pinkish glow and the golden wings indicate the thought form created by the joining of these two people is one of peace and protection. The pinkish glow indicates affection, the gold, highest and best. The wings are balanced.

You may not know what a caduceus is, though you may recognize the symbol. The cadeceus was the staff of Hermes, the Greek God of commerce, communication, and so many other things. It is a symbol of healing, balance, and finding equilibrium.

It is a wand with two serpents twined round it, surmounted by two wings. The ancient Greeks believed it to exercise influence over the living and the dead, bestow wealth and prosperity, and turn everything it touched into gold.

The wings of the caduceus symbolize the ‘winged radiance’ of those who have achieved the dynamic equilibrium of the two lobes of the medulla, the petals of the third-eye chakra, as well as the lightning speed of Hermes as Messenger of the Gods.

The rod of the caduceus is called a ‘laya rod,’ a central staff surrounded by the positive and negative energy of the serpents. It is the neutral Sushumna, the channel of the Sun’s One Ray.

Theosophy Trust

OK, I could probably add more, and I’ve put off posting this more than long enough! What else do you see in the Two of Cups?

Blessings,

Mary and Katana

A Wonderful Visit

I’m feeling really blessed right now.

Me and my familyFor the past (almost) two weeks, my parents were out visiting. We didn’t really do any site-seeing, or many activities. Mom and I spent a day together at the spa, and a friend of mine took us out on his boat for an evening cruise of part of the Discovery Passage.

Most of our time was spent just being together – eating meals, catching up on what has been going on in each others’ lives, watching movies. It was nice to have them here, because I don’t get to see them very often.

This past weekend was the Lammas Monologues at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. It was the cast party from the previous Spring Mysteries Festival, and auditions for the upcoming festival, and I really wanted to be there. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to tell my parents to leave early so we could go to a party. They drove half way across the continent to see us (and other relatives), so I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. So I invited them to come with us.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous. How were my Lutheran parents from Minnesota going to fit in and connect with my Pagan, not at all body shy, medical marijuana using spiritual family? (OK, they don’t ALL use medical marijuana.) What would they think of the Monologues, with people invoking and telling the stories of many different Gods and Goddesses from all over the world? Where would we all sleep?

It turns out, I didn’t really need to worry. My dad shared his massage toys and skills, and had some great conversations with people about energy and healing and all sorts of things. My mom was a great support, helping out in the kitchen (she loves feeding people!), and I think she had some fun, too. And their dog loved the freedom of being able to wander the property and play with other dogs.

They didn’t really say a lot when I asked them what they thought of the weekend, and whether they enjoyed themselves. I’m curious to hear more.

My spiritual family welcomed my biological family with open arms. I am so grateful for both of them!

Blessings,

Mary

Tarot Thursdays Have Been on Hiatus

I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately. I was off to a really good start with Tarot Thursdays, and then, they just fell off the map.

Hermit tarot card Walks Within ArtLoveLightThere’s a number of reasons – I went back to work full time. My goodness, that takes more energy than I would like to admit, especially because things weren’t, and still aren’t quite, fully resolved there.

Katana, our amazing artist, moved to Hawaii. She made the decision and moved within a month! She’s getting settled there, and we aren’t quite back to our routine yet.

And I just found out my thyroid levels were low again. That leads to very low energy, among other things. We’ve just increased my medication, so hopefully I will start feeling better soon.

Tarot Thursdays, or rather, the recent lack of them, have been on my mind, though. Each week I would think, maybe I’ll start it up again this week. And then it would be Friday again, and I’d be exhausted, and clearly, it didn’t happen.

This past weekend I did a lot of readings. We were up at Filomi Days in Port Hardy (at the northern end of Vancouver Island) on Saturday, and at the Pier Street Market in Campbell River on Sunday. My teacher taught me that when you see a card, or cards, come up over and over again in your readings, that is the message that the cards have for you.

Of course, when you do a lot of readings in a short span of time, the chances of seeing any particular card more than once are high. I’m talking about the card(s) that come up in several readings.

My messages this weekend were the Queen of Pentacles, the Knight of Pentacles, and the Hermit.

The Queen of Pentacles is the nurturer, the caregiver. She’s the one who has abundance, and makes sure that everyone has food to eat, and a roof over their head, and all of their needs taken care of. Sometimes she does this at her own expense. She may be the one who drops everything to help a friend or loved one. If she does this often enough, she’s eventually going to run out of energy. Who’s taking care of her?

The message I receive from this card is that I need to make sure I am taking time for myself and for self care. I have to practice sacred selfishness a little more often! So I had a chair massage at the Market yesterday, and my mom and I are having a spa day next week. I am really looking forward to that!

The Knight of Pentacles is the defender, the protector. While all of the other Knights tend to be the ones that rush into action, the Knight of Pentacles is the one that makes sure that the home front is protected. Whenever this card comes up, I think of the farmer or rancher walking the fences, making sure there are no holes, and that everything is safe.

The message I receive from this is to make sure I’ve put it place the items to protect what I have built. Perhaps it is time to update my will, clean up my bank accounts, make sure I’ve got a contingency fund, and get a health check up (I just saw the naturopath on Friday).

I’ve already written in depth about the Hermit. You can read that post here.

The message I receive from the Hermit is it’s time for me to do some work on my shadow side. I need to take the skeletons out of my closet and examine them. I need to look at those parts of myself that I’m not necessarily proud of. And then, I need to do something about them.

That something could be accepting myself as I am. It could be forgiving myself for past mistakes. It could be making some changes to fix some of the things I’m not happy about. Or it could (very likely) be a little of all of the above.

Regardless, I have some work to do. I’ll be in my own little world, taking care of myself, and doing some self examination.

Don’t expect another Tarot Thursday post just yet!

Blessings,

Mary

Heartsick and Heart Full

I don’t watch the news. Ever. It’s too negative, upsetting, fear-filled and depressing. Occasionally I see a clip that someone has posted to Facebook. But never a full broadcast.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly NOW. Love mercy NOW. Walk humbly NOW. You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it.” -TalmudThat doesn’t mean I’m out of touch, at least not completely. I get some local news on the radio. And, of course, the big events I hear about on Facebook. Especially when there is a series of horrifying events all in a short time span.

You see, I have a lot of friends who are social activists. I’m grateful, honestly. I learn a lot from them, especially about how to be more sensitive to other people’s experiences.

With the recent killings in the US – the Pulse Nightclub, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and police officers in Dallas (and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of atrocities going on in other parts of the world) – the activists on my list are very busy and very vocal. And I’m glad. Because too many times in the past people have been murdered unjustly. Because they happened to be born with more melanin in their skin. Or because they loved someone of the same gender.

By the luck of the draw, or fate, or who knows why, I happened to be born a pale-skinned female heterosexual. I’m not at the very top of the privilege food chain, but I’m pretty darn close. The only ones who outrank me are white heterosexual males in general, and white heterosexual males and females who were born to wealthy families.

I was painfully aware of my privilege this week when I was stopped at a road check. After answering only a couple of questions, I was on my way, with very little hassle. I couldn’t help but wonder how differently that experience might have been if I had been born Black, or, in my area, Native American. Would I have been allowed through as easily? Or would I have been pulled over and questioned more thoroughly? Or abusively?

It’s unfortunate that we need movements like Black Lives Matter and Pride Festivals. It would be so wonderful if we were all loved and loving, accepted and accepting, empowered and empowering. That’s not the case. Gender, race, sexuality and religious beliefs still divide us, and some still think there is a “better than”.

Events such as these hurt my heart. It is hard to observe the hate and fear and violence that so many still live with on a daily, hourly basis. It is even harder to put myself in the shoes of someone who lives in constant fear of being injured or killed because of the things that make them individuals. The pain is overwhelming.

We can’t let the pain stop us, though. At times like this, it is even MORE important to find beauty and good in the world. Not to escape from the pain, in spite of the pain. Because beauty and good are what will keep us going. Finding the beauty and finding the good help us to heal.

This weekend I volunteered at Vancouver Island Music Fest. I saw people pay it forward to strangers, by gifting their unused ticket to the next person who came to buy one, without having any idea who that person might be. I received kindness from a couple who had extra chairs, and let me use one instead of sitting on the ground. I experienced beauty in listening to music performed by people who are both talented and skilled.

Did the music make the pain go away? Not entirely. But it helped me experience beauty and kindness and good, and that fills my heart.

Blessings,

Mary

Clean Up Isn’t Always Easy

We all make mistakes. It’s part of learning and growth. Sometimes fixing those mistakes is difficult.

it-took-me-a-long-time-to-learn-that-mistakes-arent-good-or-bad-theyre-just-mistakes-and-you-clean-them-up-and-go-on-mistake-quoteIt’s especially challenging when the mistake is not your own. This weekend I was at the Market as usual. I did a 15 minute reading for a woman, which is $20, and she paid me with a $50 bill. Since it was the first full reading of the day, I made change from the bottom of my cash box, where I have a few larger bills. I remember handing her a $20 and two $5’s.

Later that afternoon, she came back insisting that I had not given her the change. She remembers the experience differently – that I got up and went to the front of the tent as she left, not collecting her change. She was quite upset, and very insistent, saying that she totaled up her purchases for the day, and she should have $30 more than what she had, so I clearly had not given her the change.

I absolutely remember handing her the change. She absolutely remembers not receiving it. I offered to split the difference with her, giving her back $15, and she was insistent. I ended up giving her $30 more, meaning I paid her $10 to read her cards.

I was really upset. First, that I was accused of not being honest, that I effectively stole from her. And second, that I had to pay for her mistake. What was her mistake? Did she bring less cash to the market than she recalled? Did she forget a purchase when she was doing her tally? I have no idea. Customer service dictates that I fix it.

A day later, it still bugs me, though I can understand the panic of not being able to account for your purchases. I’ve been there, and it feels awful. Clearly she needed that $30 more than I did. At least, that’s what I tell myself to make it easier to accept. Taking it personally certainly doesn’t serve me.

I’m working on doing my own financial clean up. I’ve made some choices in the past that I’m not proud of. I took some poor advice, hoping that things would work out differently. It’s not easy to admit. It’s not easy to ask for help. And yet, for my own integrity (and my financial health), I have to clean up my mistakes.

Progress means learning from your mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t make me a bad person, any more than the woman at the market was a bad person. I’m more interested in growth than being right, so I’ll do the clean up that is needed, even if it is uncomfortable.

Blessings,

Mary

Depression Sucks

It comes in many forms, and has many faces. And all of them suck.

My typical pattern looks something like this:

dropI start to get overwhelmed by all the things I am involved in, or want to be doing/experiencing/learning/etc.

I get exhausted. I feel to tired to do any of the things, so I start to withdraw. I play games on my phone and watch Netflix, because I have no energy or motivation for anything else.

Then I feel guilty for not doing all the things that I ought to be doing instead of wasting my time on electronics. (And before you say it, yes, I know to be gentle with myself, and do what I need to do to heal. That’s part of how my mind messes with me.)

Before I know it, I feel horrible. And then I realize, oh wait, this is what depression looks like for me.

Thankfully, the depression I experience is mild, from what I can tell from friends of mine who have also experienced depression. Once I realize what’s going on, I generally start improving pretty quickly.

For example, I had a slide start about two weeks ago. I hit the bottom on Saturday. I didn’t want to do anything, but I had a lot planned for the weekend. I wanted to stay in bed and cry. But obligations.

So I got myself up, and showered, and made my way out into my day. And cried a little. And put on my game face. And celebrated love in all its diversity at the Campbell River Pride Festival, and hung out with an awesome friend all day. She put rainbow tinsel in my hair, and rainbow feathers, and I put on some make up, and I slowly started feeling better.

The encouragement of friends on Facebook helped, and so did some good supplements. And, of course, my amazing husband.

I’ve come through it. Again. For now. And all I can say is, depression sucks. I know I have it easier than many, many others. My heart goes out to all who experience depression. I hope you can find the tricks and tools that help you weather the storms, and that the dark times be brief and far between.

Blessings,

Mary

Conflict Avoidance

I *really* don’t like conflict. I’m a peace-maker at heart. My first tactic in most conflict situations is to avoid it and hope it goes away.

conflict avoidanceI’ll be the first one to admit this isn’t always the best tactic. There are times when you have to pick your battles. Unfortunately for me, I choose to run away for another day more often than is healthy for me.

Even though my first approach is avoidance, I know that eventually I will have to face whatever the situation is. Sometimes I come to this place of acceptance sooner than other times.

You see, avoidance leads to a lot of anxiety. Every time I have to interact with that person, I worry about it, or try to hide that I’m upset. And that just sucks.

Or I avoid seeing the person because I don’t want to deal with the conflict. Which is also weird and awkward in a lot of cases.

And sometimes, avoiding conflict also leads to me avoiding, oh, everything.

I’ve had a lot of conflict in my life recently. It’s an energy drain, a leak. Which is why I’ve been working to clean up as much of the conflict as I can. Because I really don’t like being in conflict with others. Remember how I said I’m a peace-maker at heart?

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t written in a couple of weeks. Avoiding conflict takes a lot of energy, and cleaning it up takes a lot, too. And yet, I feel like it’s extremely important to do it.

Do you have anything left unsaid that is draining your energy?

Blessings,

Mary