Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Gray Day

My gramma tells me that my grandpa used to say "another gray day" a lot to describe the weather - we are, after all, Minnesotans & this describes 70-80% of our weather. It may not be precipitating, but sometimes you wonder if the sun is ever coming back.

I don't like the expression because it reminds me too much of how depressions feels, like fingernails down the chalkboard of my past. One must understand the phrase is uttered with a kind of stalwart powerlessness - it's gray today, it was gray yesterday, it's going to be gray tomorrow, and we just have to put up with it and soldier on.

I won't lie and say I no longer have depression. I don't know if one is ever "cured" of it. I'm beginning to suspect it's a chronic disease. Most of the time, I am simply happier, better equipped to deal with the low points, and more hopeful about the high points yet to come.

But, this whole week has been "another gray day" inside and out. And I find that incredibly frustrating. It affects how I interact - or don't interact - with people. It affects what I eat - and shouldn't be eating. It affects my motivation to write, my motivation to do anything, really. I just went to see King Tut yesterday and was, for the most part, nonplussed. Not because it isn't incredible, but because everything I feel about anything is muted by a dark cloud. I hate being here because I work very hard, all the time, to not be. And don't even get me started on "fair" and "not fair," I could rail at the Heavens until Judgment Day.

It's Easter and I have absolutely no desire to go see family. Honestly, when I get this way, I don't know if the feeling this way is worse than the pretending to be happy. If it were Thanksgiving, I suppose I would say I am thankful that this doesn't happen as often as it used to, that this is a surprisingly low slump that has not had an equal in three years, and that is something to be very grateful for. But this is Easter, about new beginnings, rebirth, glory, rising. And I seem to have backpedaled. What's the message there?

Still, I am hopeful tomorrow will be sunny, and I hope everyone else's Easter is a happy one.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Non-Threatening Introduction to Tarot

Last night we had a lovely Women's Gathering at the Center. The theme was "Let Your Soul Sing," and Suzi crafted an original meditation designed to help you get in touch with your spirit and let it let out its unique sound. It was really a lot of fun (Tre's approach was laughter, and it was infectious!).

The lovely Woman Warriors (as I like to call them) who show up at every function and gathering we ever throw (small but proud core group who really know how to represent) formed a little klatsch after the other women had filtered out, and we got down to the nitty gritty of how we would throw our Psychic Spa. Basically, we wanted to showcase the gifts the organizers & core members of the Center have & were thinking of doing a Psychic Spa in May for the Women's Gathering. Our perennial problem is that we have the largest number of people show up for events where we have contracted in outside talent (past life regressionist, soul painter, etc.), when we have staff members (like me) who host/chair/perform at Women's Gathering with nary a peep of response. *sad face*

It is rather costly do get outsiders to come in and present (not to mention the "but... but... hey, I'm gifted!" element that I think Karen & I especially get a little pouty about) when we could be raising more funds if we could keep most things in house (funds we use to do things like outreach, supporting the annual breast cancer walk, cover the cost of feeding everybody... cover the cost of feeding everybody...), but we just aren't raising the interest in our own internal offerings that gets raised every time we have someone else in. This is a subject of many meetings, debates, and hair-pulling, as you can imagine.

Now, I have all kinds of theories running around my head as to why this is, but I experienced a new element last night that I had not taken into consideration. You might have to be from Hastings to understand how this works (or another "biggest little small town in America" - you know who you are), but I was talking to one of the women who I think I've seen only once before, and after she talked about how she uses a pendulum and talks to her spirit guides and meditates, she asked me a very surprising question.

"So, does your mother support your... lifestyle?"

I should add that, in a circle of five energy-reading women, this question was directed at me.

I can't be sure, but I think my eyebrows may have hit my hairline. It took me a good fifteen seconds to figure out what "lifestyle" she was referring to (she had, after all, just finished describing her own journey with energy), then I finally got a little help from my more "with it" brain cells. *Tarot - cough - Tarot!* "Yes, she's very supportive," I said.

"Oh," the lady responded with what I interpreted as skeptical surprise. "Well, isn't that nice."

I don't know why it keeps surprising me that people have some very funny ideas about what is still "holy" (aka: will not prevent you from being a good, God-fearing, upstanding, Christian member of the community) and what is just plain kooky (aka: apparently ME).

God love my Warrior Women friends, right after the Gathering was over, and the Psychic Spa was being fleshed out, one of the first things they started talking about was how to make people understand how wonderful and non-threatening Tarot was. Most of them helped me out (probably with great uncertainty at the time) by being some of the first people I read for while doing my apprenticeship readings. They all love Tarot now. Two of them even got their own decks for the first time this week and are so in love with and excited about them (and I'm excited for the great relationship they're going to build with them, there's nothing like your first deck).

I appreciate the loyalty, and am so happy that they've seen the beautiful things I see about Tarot. And I worry, now more than ever, if one of the obstacles the Center is facing is not, in fact, me. I mean, as an ambassador for Tarot practice, I'm about as non-threatening as they come. I'm very Regular Joe at the Women's Gatherings. I consider myself to be a thoughtful, accepting, mostly laid-back person who gets to do this really exciting thing. I just keep forgetting that people, even people who have been introduced to and involved in other "New Age" stuff, still think Tarot is evil.

And I keep trying to think of the magic way I can dispell that. One of the Women Warriors suggested we do an exercise like we do to start the Psychic Study Group - each draw a card from a Tarot deck (I brought in my Crone deck for study group) to open the gathering or as a kind of check in. I keep hoping the longer I do this, read cards in the small town while still being that same person who helps out at the charity walk and writes children's books and comes from a good family, etc, etc, etc, the more of a dent I'll make in some of the crustier ideas.

We'll see. In all, I'm just glad there are a really strong, great group of people who are excited about Tarot and are supportive. I'll bet they'll make fantastic ambassadors themselves. Strength in numbers, eh?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tarot from the Lotus Position

We had the first meeting of our writers' group today (if you are a writer, I highly recommend one). It was fantastic. I swear we could have talked forever, and I am really excited about the work my group-mates are doing. I think we must have covered every topic under the sun, but we did get around to religion. Not just "gee, I'm Catholic, gee, I'm Lutheran," but an actual deep discussion of culture and religion and cultures that readily adopt new traditions/icons into their religion (Hindus) and cultures that don't (*cough* fill in the blank *cough*).

We talked about how these days Westerners (like me) with such unlimited access to information & exposure to other cultures and belief systems now cobble together their own understanding from pieces of countless teachings. The pros and cons of that have been endlessly debated (eg: raising up belief systems where you take all the benefits and none of the drawbacks and everything is roses & faeries), but I am a believer in taking what feeds you and strengthens your connection to the Divine, no matter where it comes from. This does not mean I don't believe in consequences, or that a faith-filled life should suddenly be without struggle. It just means I believe Truth has many faces.

The conversation swung around to the nuts in Florida burning the Qur'an. Being me, I brought up religious persecution and Tarot readers ((oh my God, woman, isn't that horse dead yet?!)) and the story I heard at MATS about the librarian who tore the Tarot card in half. I said you just don't. You don't burn the Qur'an. You don't tear up Tarot cards. You don't deface the Holy Bible. You don't vandalize Shiva. You just don't do these things. It's about respect.

My group-mate smiled when she saw how wound up I got about it. Then she said, "After you attain enlightenment, burn Buddha." I guess a Zen teaching is that once you reach enlightenment, you need nothing but that enlightenment, not even the path that brought you there. She was, of course, also referring to our attachment to these religious/spiritual "things." I Googled, and found two Buddhist stories about the statues of Buddha being burned/dismantled to serve a practical purpose. I am also familiar with the Mandalas of Tibet and the alfombras for Pascua - both beautiful examples of sand art, both showing the impermanence of even the most beautiful things. How something you work very hard to build can be destroyed.

Still, I had to admit, I would be beside myself if one of my working decks were torn to pieces. Tarot is not a religion, but it does exemplify certain values and beliefs and, the way I use it, it encourages a deeper connection to the Divine. I explained how a Tarot deck you own and have worked with set side-by-side with its brand new out-of-the-plastic double (the same deck) is visibly changed. Your working deck is thicker, puffed up higher, more worn. It has absorbed the oil of your hands and the energy of your spirit. I imagine someone who had faithfully underlined, read, and re-read their dogeared copy of the Holy Bible would feel the same way.

What are we afraid of, really? What is so threatening about allowing people to connect to God in their own way? Why, of all things, do we tear apart other religions? Honestly, I think it shows a weakness of your own faith if you need to attack other belief systems to sustain it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Light the Way

Some days, it is honestly a pain in the ass to help run a women's spirituality center. It's hard to negotiate with the other egos, it's hard not to feel you're doing too little or too much (or at least more or less than other members), it's hard to navigate money (is this free? Why isn't this free? What is Minnesota sales tax? What falls under Minnesota sales tax? Do we qualify to be a nonprofit? So if this is donation only, if I donate fifty cents to this cancer thing, do I still get a reading?), it's hard to be faced with community resistance ("No, I will not be at your gathering. I will be at my church praying to my God, now take me off your list!"), it's hard coming up with new ideas every month, it's hard to know how best to serve and where your place is in all of it and where you need to draw your boundaries.

But, ask me on my worst day when I've lost the key to the money box, the tent has imploded on us, I'm dehydrated and tired and watching people cross to the other side of the path in order to pass our tent, and all I want to do is scream, and I will still tell you it's worth it.

Because I still have moments when we sit in meditation & people cry and it's okay.

Because I've never laughed more my whole life than standing in the kitchen, eating chocolate-covered strawberries at the Women's Gathering while one of the ladies describes the recent antics of her mentally challenged dog.

Because our own beloved mentally challenged dog (erm, well, I usually say Banger "isn't stupid, he's just big-boned") still doesn't understand he probably shouldn't go around licking toes and faces during a past life regression, but knows just when to go sit in someone's lap when they're describing a particularly difficult month.

Because I've had corn ice cream, watermelon soup, and cake on a stick, and enjoyed every bite.

Because sometimes, after a Tarot reading, a woman says to me, "I've always wanted to connect with a group of women like me."