Friday, September 25, 2009

Upcoming Session—plus more about why spell casting is good for you

I am getting stuff together for the next magical chat, which will be on October 4th. In addition to seeking continued words of wisdom from the spirit mentors by using "collaborative tarot," I will demonstrate a tarot technique called “The Pentacle Quest.” Premised on the idea that we’re always on some kind of a quest, it takes you through the points of the Pentagram to show you some things about the nature of your current quest, including what stage you’re at in that quest. Then we will transform our readings into Pentacle Spells. Also, if time permits, I will demonstrate a tarot technique for identifying “Your Next Luck-Bringer.”

Now, to pick up on the previous idea of asserting the will to disrupt the bodymind’s stasis and establish a new regime: when we look at certain disciplines like Yoga, which have both physical and spiritual components, or when we look at traditional magic and healing practices, we can see that they often involve all sorts of actions which, by putting your through your paces, take you out of your homeostatic routines and force you to assert your will in ways both physical and mental, and large and small.

In the case of magic, different types of spells often require you to assemble special ingredients, and set time and space aside for little rituals; this can also involve repeating such rituals over an extended period of time. Magic rites have a transformative effect because even those spells which are intended to work changes in your outer world are a sort of self-enchantment: by acting on your bodymind they necessarily involve changes in consciousness.

As great sources of spells and rituals for self-enchantment, here let me plug my books “Tarot Spells” and “By Candlelight," which are designed to be nondenominational and provide simple rites and spells with anyone can do; for people who enjoy the ritual experience, there are added suggestions for things you can do to enhance these rites and spells. [I will add links to my books when I’m able to get around to it.] Of course, there are many other excellent ritual and spell books out there.

Furthermore, if you want to devote some time to spell casting, the spells you try your hand at don’t even have to apply to your larger goals in order to serve as acts of will. For example, your larger goal may be to lose weight or to quit smoking, but, as an exercise in will power, you could make a daily practice of doing spells to attract luck, promote prosperity, or send healing energy to a friend, or rituals to release stress or to honor your ancestors or the nature spirits—among the numerous other ritual actions that can serve as the basis for daily practice.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Training the Will

At the September 6 magical chat session, we were discussing how the Page cards of tarot can apply to taking on new disciplines, and one of the topics that came up in relation to this is the problem of will power. This is an issue addressed by Elmer and Alyce Green in their book, “Beyond Biofeedback.” They point out that our bodymind systems settle in to and try to maintain a “homeostasis,” which is a static condition of being that includes both the good and the bad. So, whenever we try to make a change—even if it’s a change for the better—our bodyminds reflexively rise to resist the change by throwing all kinds of obstacles in our way and undermining our willpower. However, if a person can persist and do enough to unsettle the status quo by introducing different sorts of changes and carrying out large and small acts of will, the bodymind’s efforts at maintaining homeostasis can be disrupted to the point where it is possible to establish new patterns. This allows the bodymind to eventually settle in to a newer, healthier condition of homeostasis. Also, because the bodymind is a unit, any things you can do to work on the body will also help the mind, and things you do to affect the mind will benefit the body.

Consequently, when you want to cultivate will power, think of different things you can do to exercise your will. These acts of will don’t even have to specifically apply to the sort of changes you want to bring about. As an example, the Greens cite Robert Assagioli’s suggestion of standing on a chair for ten minutes a day, just to be doing something different enough to be laying down a new discipline. (This is also an example of how unusual actions can make a special impression on the bodymind--which is why shamans often incorporate outlandish acts and gestures into their practices.)

Some simple things that a person can do as daily practice might include taking the time to brew and drink a cup of healthful herbal tea (especially if, like me, you’re the kind of person who would climb over a mountain of herbal tea to get at a cup of coffee), or greeting the rising sun (possibly with the yogic “sun salutation” exercise), or giving up a regular TV program in order to do something more productive, or doing various other things that are good for you but which you normally wouldn’t take the time or have the inclination to do. You could also make a practice of daily spiritual devotions, little magical spells, or other types of simple rituals. Reframing attitudes can also be part of daily practice. So, if you get into negative feedback loops by dwelling on regrets, push those thoughts out of your mind and replace them with positive.

This business of asserting your will in things both small and large is also an area where the tarot can help. You can approach the cards with a question like, “What can I do as an act of Will?” Then shuffle and cut, and pull the top card, interpreting it as a card of advice rather than a card of prediction. Think about how the card’s traditional meanings and its graphic imagery suggest actions that you can carry out. (This technique of interpreting the cards in terms of what suggestions they have to offer is the subject of my book, “Tarot, Your Everyday Guide.”) Alternatively—or in addition—you could go through your shuffled deck to find the Magician, which has a lot to do with asserting the will as a way of attaining mastery in the world. The Magician’s tools are the elemental powers of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, so look to the cards flanking the Magician to see which elemental forces are highlighted, then consider how these, along with the flanking cards’ meanings and imagery might suggest ideas for entraining your will. You can turn your reading into a tarot spell by envisioning yourself as the Magician, carrying out the actions you want to incorporate into your routine.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Turning Pages in the Book of Life

Today I want to say a few words about one of the Tarot techniques we tried at the Triple Goddess, last Sunday, September 6th. In keeping with the beginning of the semester, we asked the cards, “Please show me how I can get the most out of this semester’s learning experience.” (If you’re enrolled in classes, you can apply this literally to your course work, but we’re all students in the School of Life.) Then, we shuffled and cut our decks, then went through them until we came to the first Page card in the pile, because whether the Page was Cups, Wands, Swords, or Pentacles denoted the recommended mode of learning. Also, whichever cards were flanking the Page provided advice on how to, or what sort of matters to, apply that learning style. We then did Tarot spells by selecting cards to gift our Pages with “school supplies” (i.e. the resources we desire), and then to form an image of what we ultimately hope to get out of this season’s learning experience, whether that be at MSU, LCC, or what have you—or the School of Life.

Probably most of us have faced learning challenges which, though initially difficult, were mastered when we were able to achieve a state of “flow,” where we really “got into it” and achieved an “aha” state of comprehension, where things started clicking. The Page that comes up in your reading denotes a mental mode to get into to confront certain learning challenges; if you can emulate that Page’s mode of learning and style of thinking and acting, things will come together for you.

One way to get into character is to think of learning challenges you have faced in the past, where things started falling into place once you either immersed yourself in the Page of Swords’ cutting, intellectual mode of investigating your subject; the Page of Pentacles’ hands-on approach to practical, first-hand experience; the Page of Wands’ eagerly inquisitive, communicative, multi-tasking approach to the subject; or the Page of Cups’ ability to open to the subject emotionally and find spiritual meaning in it. Drawing on these past experiences by evoking those memories as vividly as you can will help you re-capture the confidence and enthusiasm which accompanied your mastery of those situations. Also, when you try to step into the mode of one of the Page cards, (or any court card or other personality card), to accomplish a certain goal, try to adjust your thinking (for the time being) to alter your self image, so you can easily envision yourself thinking and acting like the characters you have chosen to emulate.

Reenacting a particular Page’s mode of learning is a form of regression because it bends time and takes you back to a facet of yourself in your youth—one of your younger self’s ways of engaging the world. I have a theory that when we are able to effect positive forms of regression, this reactivation of an earlier self puts us in a state where we can recapture some of the benefits of the younger mind and body, which include not only rapid learning, but things like high energy and a faster, enhanced healing capacity. I have encountered the term “regression in service of the ego” used in reference to shamanic practitioners, and skillful regression is something of a shamanic, shape-shifting performance. In addition to the use of Tarot imagery, a person could use other hypno-suggestive cues, such as bringing out some toys from your childhood or engaging in activities or going to places that are associated with the positive experiences of your past. Even if you don’t have specific goals, you might want to indulge in this from time to time, just as a way to refresh your energy body.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This Sunday: Spirit Mentors and The School of Life

I have previously brought up the idea that when we gather in a place like The Triple Goddess, where the good vibrations are elevated, it is easier to receive messages from the spirit mentors who are always available to us in an extra-dimensional sort of way—and that our respective spirit helpers are able to hobnob with each other and share information. In regard to Tarot readings, I may also have mentioned that the mere act of getting out a pack of Tarot cards is a way of “signaling to the spirits” because of the motions involved, the attention directed toward the language of symbolism, and the fact that you are doing something that is going outside of your everyday boundaries. At some of my magical chats, I have also talked about how when we are able to act on some of the advice that the spirits are able to give us, that enables them to make some good Karma, because it is actually very difficult for the residents of the Ghost World to earn Karma. (In other words, when we are able to let them help us, we help them.) Because I want to do more to engage these possibilities, for the next three sessions, starting this Sunday, September 6th, I’ll see if we can begin with the form of “collaborative Tarot” we tried last November, where we get advice from multiple spirit mentors. [Note: the basic idea of collaborative Tarot comes from Valerie Sim’s book, “Tarot Outside the Box,” and we’ve been elaborating on that, in a way.]

Then, because September is the month we associate with going back to school, I will demonstrate a special Tarot technique for seeing what this new semester is going to bring. This is literal for those of us who are taking classes, but even if you’re not enrolled in school, we’re all students in the school of life. Along with this, we can bring in Tarot spells for getting the “school supplies” we need, and getting the most out of the semester’s learning experiences. I shall also pass out a bind-rune for mental potency.

If time permits, I will also demonstrate “The Dollhouse Oracle” which works on the principle that the features of a house engage many metaphors for different states of being. If time does not permit, I’ll make the Dollhouse Oracle the main feature of October’s meeting, which is Sunday, October 4th.