– an offering of words
I laid my eyes on the Arcane Bullshit tarot deck the first time I believe a year and a half ago. I was reading an article by Sarah Anne Lawless about indie tarot decks, because I was looking for a new addition to my collection. Note to the reader: my collection was composed of a Celtic Tarot deck based on the original RWS deck, and another one always celtic-themed where the 22 major arcana were represented by various God/esses (a mish-mash of Irish and Gaulish deities) and the minor were ogham in different order for each season.
I was looking for something with a more classic tarot imagery to start learning again, but I never found the Marseille or the Raider-Waite-Smith deck particularly appealing. It was a hard challenge.
Until I saw the Arcane Bullshit. Every single image spoke deeply to my soul (which probably says a lot about me). After months of going back and telling myself that “yeah, I wanted something more classic”, I received them as a birthday gift from my boyfriend. And I love every single card.
The deck is composed of 50 cards and doesn’t follow the standard major/minor so I think we could say it’s not properly tarot, but more of an oracle deck. Despite the name, I found some of the cards mantain some symbols we often see around (i.e. the eye, skulls, etc.) and cards like Knees, Random Clipart, Robododo or the Card of Cards still make a lot of sense to me. Working with them is wonderful, funny and really engaging. When you pull out a card that doesn’t seem to make any sense (litterally!) you really have to let your sixth sense run. What could the Pit Bull in a Triny Truck mean? What’s the Hooker with an Octopus trying to tell you?
It’s like a new world to be discovered, because there is no set interpretation for the cards, although in the Tarot Bullshit app there are some idea on what they could mean. You can also do a reading with the app, which is completely free, and see where it brings you.
Despite their looks, I assure you this deck is absolutely serious – it only does its work in its own way, but it calls you out in such an honest way. I’d say thee cards feel very direct.
I adore working with this deck. I’ve never been good with card divination, but now I feel more interested into it and ready to study it properly (I’m going to get a RWS deck eventually for this purpose) and it has really boosted my confidence to work with cards that I can really understand.
I understand that this is not your standard deck, but I reccomend getting a copy if you like an approach to card reading that is absolutely non dogmatic and leaves you a little bit of freedom in the interpretation, or just to tell a very bizarre story.
I also believe that they would work great with Cards Against Humanity. Just imagine the greatness of such reading!
One of the very first thing I did last year after opening this blog was to write an article about my words for 2016.
The three words I chose inspired me throughout the year and kept me going, even during November and December – the hardest months, all things considered.
For 2017 I want to keep it minimal and I chose one word only: worth.
The choice came only partly from pondering, as I feel it as an extension of the work I’ve been doing on myself in the past year. In November and December 2016 I came across some rough times, but they helped me point out one of my biggest problems: the way I consider myself, what happens and what’s around me.
I have an hard time believing myself worthy of anything (we lack self-esteem here) and this influences both my mundane and spiritual work. It inhibits my ability to motivate myself, because I think that in the end I deserve nothing and won’t get anything. I’m going to tackle this in my future shadow work and hopefully I’ll get out more self-loving and self-accepting. However, worth is a lense through which I want to look at the world. Sometimes I give importance to trivial things, or things that make me feel bad, and I forget what is truly worthy of my attention and time. The result is that I feel ashamed and drained of all my energies. It’s the time to start prioritize what really makes me feel good about myself and what I do, especially when it’s about relationships and what people might think of what I do and the why I act.
As simple as this word might seem, I feel I have a great work ahead of me. Something that can really change who I am for the better. I’m hopeful, but most of all I’m willing to go through this year. I trust what I can do.
Thinking about what to write for this week’s post is making me realise how little my mind grasps the idea of transition.
Ten years ago I was a person, five years ago I was another. Two years ago my life was completely different and now, if I had to mark when exactly I changed over my life I wouldn’t know. Yes, there may be events that trigger your experience, but that doesn’t mean waking up one day and being a different person. Sometimes you fall again into your old ways. Sometimes you look at yourself and say: woah! Look at what I am today.
I did that. I looked at myself a while ago and said to myself “wow, now idiots in my life don’t bother me that much. Wow, now I know how to walk away from certain situations. Or how to handle certain problems”. Yes, there are things I learned that helped me, but trying to choose when all this happened would be like watching sunrise or sunset. There’s the gray light of the morning, than a little pink sprays the fields and in a blink the sun is there!
Liminality. For the Celts, it was an important concept: the turn of the season, of the months, even of days. Samhain, Beltaine, midwinter and midsummer, sunrise and sunset. Everything that is in the middle holds magic. It makes me think about Mircea Eliade’s notion of time out of time. The sacred moment when the worlds join, when the myths are reenacted, in which rituals are held.
What I have understood is that this moments hold the possibility of creation. Isn’t it nice to think that during our everyday mundane activities we can pause and aknowledge the world as the sacred place it is? That everyday there are magical moments in which we can stop, pause for a while. A couple of minutes in the morning, midday and sunset can be powerful moments of minfdulness and connection. You can center yourself, relax and be part of the cycles. The cycle of days within the cycle of months, that is itself within the cycle of the year who is part of the endless cycle of life. We are still part of this reality even if there isn’t a big festival to celebrate. Then off with the tasks of the day.
That moment in which the doing and the being unite in the great force that makes the Sun come up in the sky is still a mistery to me. You where down the curve of the horizon and now you’re here, shining. What’s your secret? How come you haven’t hidden under the mountains forever? Where have you mastered the courage, oh my Sun? Maybe even the Sun is afraid it won’t be able to go up as high as it should, or that he can’t do it. That he’s going to fail. Maybe he too feels pressured by the expectancies everyone places on it. In the end, there’s nothing much the Sun could do. He has to rise. Even when it rains, it’s there. Maybe there’s something inevitable about transitions and how much control we can have on them.
I’ve always been in search of something. I didn’t always clearly understood what was that I wanted, or needed, but I’ve always felt the urge to dug deep into things. A desperate longing to understand and know. What is the World? How does it function? Why is “good” good and “bad” bad? Are fairies real? Will I receive my Hogwarts letter?
You can say I was a curious child a rebellious adolescent and an even more curious young adult (accent on the young)
One of the things I focused on my “pagan studies” were symbols.
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l’observent avec des regards familiers.
– Correspondances, Charles Baudelaire
I’ve always found meaning in symbols. Words, drawing and music have a huge presence in my life. When I discovered archetypes and how much the lore could tell me about things I looked at without any interest, I was stunned. You could say I had an epiphany.
In Nature’s temple, living pillars rise,
Speaking sometimes in words of abstruse sense;
Man walks through woods of symbols, dark and dense,
Which gaze at him with fond familiar eyes.
– Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil
The idea that everything in the world is linked still fascinates and resonates with me. Add to the cocktail that I easily spot patterns and love to find new interpretations, outcomes and meanings in what I see, and here you have the best serve.
So, what does this all bring us to? Is this intrinsic curiosity source more of answers or questions? You may already know the answer: it brings to both. My boyfriend doesn’t fail to express amazement for this constant research. “Aren’t you tired of seeking something? Haven’t you found your answers yet?” I did. And then I changed and needed new answers. Sometimes the questions slowly shifted into something new. I encountered something I didn’t expect and there it is! A new question born.
There is nothing more exciting than setting for an adventur and to me that rhymes mostly with self-discovery and growth. My quest doesn’t involve golden rings, princes becoming king, or rebel princesses. I wished it involved more fairies, maybe an Elminster or two, more travelling. Nothing that can’t be done (except for Elminster I suppose).
What I believe is that my need is to know the world. You can’t do that by studying only sciences. You can’t do that only with philosphy. You need both. And you can’t understand the loudest inhabitats Earth ever seen by being static. Empathy brings us to a point, but to truly understand (fear, panic, exstasy, whatever) we need to experience. Maybe that is why my spiritual growth involves so much shifting and changing. Maybe that’s also why I spent so much time in search of my “true” me. Not because the one I was wasn’t real, but because I felt the wrong me for the time I was living in.
Yesterday, while browsing bloglovin, I found a couple of articles on Hello Neverland about choosing a word for the upcoming year (you can read them here and here). I was already wondering about the fact that my 2015 could be summed up by the word recovery.
I don’t really know when the process begun, or how. It may seem strange, but one day I managed to wake up at 9am instead of 12am. I actually did something during that day. I wasn’t hunted by fear or anxiety. I wasn’t feeling a complete waste or a failure – on the contrary I felt all the possibilities opening up at me. I felt like I had the power to improve my life, to make it better and to stop feeling as poorly as I did.
It’s a slow process I’m still working on, on different levels . For this reason I decided to choose words for this new year, so that I will be able to give direction to my life and my growth.
And growth is one of the words I choose for 2016, together with mindfulness and dare.
From my point of view, life is an ever-ending process of learning and growing. Nothing is static, everything evolves into something new and grows into something else.
This 2016 I want to grow my roots deep into the Earth and let my trunk grow tall and meet the sky. I want to become a better version of myself and be more compassionate, more loving, persevere more, reamain true with myself and find beauty and wonder in the world that surrounds me.
Here’s where the mindfulnees kicks in. Dealing with something bigger than me let me in a chaotic state of mind. My head is always talking, worrying, whispering things I don’t need or want to hear, and sometimes things I don’t even rationally believe are true! I need to look at all this, aknowledge it and let it go away. For the sake of my mental stability.
Will I dare to do all this? Will I dare to stand up for myself, look at people in the eyes and tell them what I want? Will I dare to say “yes” when my fear is trying to keep me in the comfort zone? Will I dare to walk the road not taken?
I honestly hope I will. Master the courage to go out and see what the world has in store for me is a probably the biggest thing I’ll do this year, but it’s the biggest chance to experience life in a different way and to grow (see as everything is interconnected? :D).
I’m aware that it won’t be easy and that I’ll probably fail a lot at the start of the year. It’ll take a while to let everything sink in and for me to recognize what patterns I’m repeating and what schemes my brain just won’t let go.
But I’m not here to accuse myself of what I cant’ do, I’m here to learn how to do it. And I know I will.
I know I won’t be disappointed!
Do you have any words for 2016 you’ll use as a mantra, or as a guide, to give purpose and direction to your life? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
This is a last-minute decision to participate in The Pagan Experince 2016. I was very intrigued by the fact that the theme for the month of January is spiritual growth, as “growth” is one of my words for 2016.
– i should probably ask forgiveness for how long this is.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GROW SPIRITUALLY?
Everyone has it’s own definion of growing. We’re all different and usually with different experiences behind our backs, which determines what we are, how we do things and what we need (or want) to work on – religiously and spiritually speaking.
If I think about what does it mean to grow spiritually for me, my answer is either a “understand who I am” or “become who I am” – two things that don’t always overlap.
One of the things I focused when I became pagan was balance: I had this desperate need to find balance between my inner world and the outerworld, between who I was and the mask I wore when I went out, between my misanthopic feelings and the need to excercise more compassion towards others. I felt like there were two sides of me, one the opposite of the other, and that balance meant to find a compromise between those two sides. Except it turned out it wasn’t really how it worked way.
Those parts of my characters that came out because of various personal experiences during adolscence washed away during a long period of sufference and yes, self growth. It was long and painful, but what I’m able to see now is that those days gave me the opportunity to look into myself and understand better what I am and what I’m not. For now, at least.
Have I become a better person, in the popular sense? Maybe not – I still make mistakes. I still am deeply affected by what other’s think of me, I’m still prone to hate others because of how they look, or because they seem to be a certain kind of person. It’s still different for me to look at things from other’s point of view (although being an empath helps to understand how they emotionally react) and to be totally unbiased.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t made steps forward and here’s another truth about spiritual growth: there’s no aboslutely right nor absolutely wrong, or a standardized correct way. There are tools (such as meditation, visualization, divination and so on) we can use and relationship we can seek, build and foster – i.e. with the Gods, Spirits, Ancestors, Guides and Teachers – so that we may gain deeper understanding of the world and of ourselves. However this stems from my personal view of religion – that is a mean to better understand the world and its forces in the entirety of their complexity. If I understand how the world work (and to me the Divine forces of the Gods are inherent part of how everything functions properly), I’ll also be able to better understand how do I, as human, fit in it and how should I approach nature, animals, life and so on.
What we have is a set of tools, coming from our religious paths and personal research, that can help us achieve the goal.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO GROW
When you plant a seed you need to let him rest for a while before the first sprout can arise from the soil. You need to give it space so that the roots can grow. It needs nourishment in the form of water, sun and air. It needs time so that it can become a full-grown plant. Trees requires years to fully grow, and so do humans.
Allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to have a time when you won’t be disturbed and a place suitable for your needs. Allow yourself to make the first step and stumble. Allow yourself to fall down and scratch your knees. Allow yourself to understand what you need, and what isn’t necessary. Allow yourself to get rid of everything in your life that harms you – yes, people too.
Give yourself what you need, but most of all give yourself the right to do what’s good for you.
There can be no growth if you are constantly trying to please others, fulfilling expectations, doing things because people ask you to, refrain yourself because *put reason here*.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO FAIL
Here comes a special paragraph about fear and failure, anxiety and all that (sounds like a good title for a book!), because they’ve always been problems in my life and I understand how it is really hard to go past them.
One of my fears is the fear of failure: I feel so bad when I fail at something, that if I can’t get things right I usually end up procastinating or giving up.
And here’s a brief chart of what I do when I decide it’s time to grow in a specific area of my life:
1. I understand something isn’t right/that I want to implement something in my life
2. I actively choose to do (or not to do) something
3. I inevitably fail and repeat the wrong behaviour
4. fail&correct myself
5. fail&correct myself again
6. and again
7. and again
8. When I’m lucky, here’s the point when I do it right for the first time.
As you can see, no matter how much I fear failure – it still is a big, big thing in my life.
The idea that everything can (and should!) be achieved in no time is peculiar to our culture. Our very school system teaches that when it demands different kids with different learning abilities and different strengths and weaknesses to perform at an average level – or worse, on an average time. When you start to learn meditation you won’t earn a D if for the first three weeks you’ll barely able to relax.
All this just to say that failing is part of the process. And yes, trying is the first step toward failure, but failure will teach you how to do – or don’t do – stuff. Failing teaches you that Tarot isn’t good for you, but the pendulum is. Or failing may teach you that you’re not a great diviner, but you’re strength lies with the herbs and their uses. Failing may let you understand that that cool thing everybody seems to do isn’t what you’re good at – and that’s okay.
Failure is a tool, like the others: it can tell you many things and set you on the right path, if you’re not afraid to discover something of yourself.