Saturday, July 28, 2012

Planning for Shorter Sessions

I am making preparations for Sunday, August 5th, at the Triple Goddess.  However, I have noticed that these sessions have started to run rather longer, which may be asking too much of everybody’s endurance—especially in this hot weather.  I had intended these sessions to be more like “magical chats” where people could drop in, sit around and talk, and just come and go.  However, due to my obsessive-compulsive nature, I started packing in activities, and they became more like formal workshops.  On top of that, we have started doing the Tarot Round Robins as a regular thing, which people seem to like because everyone gets a “mega reading,” (and which I like, because it allows us to work with a greater variety of card decks), but this also takes up a good amount of time.

Therefore, I am thinking that I should trim back the activities to just one major theme activity plus the Tarot Round Robin, and then maybe one other short activity if the first theme activity wasn’t very long.

I do worry about pacing, because I don’t want to run through things so fast that I forget some of the major points that I wanted to share.  I also would like to be more open to my intuition, so that I can better respond to people’s questions and concerns.  One of the problems I have as an Asperger’s person is that my thoughts are always falling over each other, which makes it harder to stay attuned.  So, if you are a visitor and have asked me a question, or if we are going over your reading and you are wondering if there is more that could be said, be bold about battering me with questions to keep me in focus.  Feel free to hold my feet to the fire.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shining Life Continued

Pursuing the idea of bringing shining gestures and shining moments into the balance of daily life, (in relation to Temperance, as well as the Two of Pentacles—the latter of which is a card that also came up a lot at our July 1st chat session), I recall a study I heard about on NPR, where people in the performing arts (such as members of an orchestra), were asked to bring some small element of change into what would otherwise have been repetitive performances, to make some small difference in their performances.  I don’t recall what methods the researchers used to gauge the audience reactions, but they did find that on the occasions when the performers were consciously trying to make a difference, the audience response was more enthusiastic, and the performances were rated more highly.  So, that extra element of mindfulness generated more shining performances.

By the way, when I talk about the magic of shining, though I may get into a lot of what may seem superficial, outward things, such as the paraphernalia one may make use of (as touched upon in the previous blogpost), or other aspects such as bringing qualities of shining into one’s personal appearance and presentation, the greater aim is cultivating an inner quality of shining, actually an internal transformation that effectively raises one’s “vibration.” 

However, I previously said I would get on to the subject of glamour bombing: this is a special type of magical performance, involving whimsical gestures contrived to bring a touch of magic into public spaces; the idea is to spark peoples’ imaginations—or at least their sense of fun--with glimpses of the fairy world.  A great number of glamour bombing techniques involve leaving curious (and often shiny) objects out for people to find.  These may be glittering signs or miniature scrolls with messages like “the gates are opening” or “the magic is real.”  Other techniques include leaving trails of flower petals or gluing mystical patterns of pennies to sidewalks.  For the bold and the dramatically gifted, more elaborate presentations may take the form of performances, such as dressing up as a fairy and putting on a little act.  The intent, here, is to give people delight: happening upon such objects or performances can create shining moments for whoever witnesses them.

Though glamour bombs tend to be ephemeral and fleeting, I would include certain types of public art such as the Ann Arbor fairy doors in this category, [see my April 28th blog entry], because they delight people with fairy imagery.

By the way, it just occurred to me that leaving a tarot card in some unexpected place can also spark magical intrigue.  One could place such cards as blessings, bringing in magical intent.  However, I’ll have to give some thought as to which cards would be ideal to leave in which places for which purposes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Magic of Shining in the Art of Life

As one of the themes for my July 1st workshop was “the magic of shining,” we touched on the idea of shining deeds/actions/gestures, etc. which then led to discussion of related concepts, including “glamour bombing” and the Judaic practice of “the beautification of a mitzvah.”  These things are on my mind, because I’ve been thinking about how to tie them in with my most recent daily one-card tarot readings from the “Art of Life” tarot deck by Charlene Livingstone.  So, I got the Temperance card, which features a Pissarro painting of a “Woman Washing Her Feet in a Brook” along with the Heraclitus quote, “The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.”  Prior to that, I got the Two of Pentacles, featuring “Blue Dancers” by Degas, and FDR’s quote that happiness “lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”  So, I’m concerned with applying creative effort in bringing the unlike together in a shining manner.

A mitzvah (plural mitzvot) tends to be a ritual obligation related to fulfilling a commandment, and also acts as a blessing or brings blessings.  On a practical basis, this is often applied to a family’s ritual paraphernalia.  For example, in fulfilling the commandment to observe Shabbat, one might take extra care in setting out the Sabbath table with the most beautiful tableware and settings, Kiddush cup, candlesticks, etc.  When you can perform a ritual action or blessing beautifully, artfully, elegantly, you are making a shining gesture.  If your ritual calls for paraphernalia that can be beautified, this also brings in qualities of shining.  The extra attention you put into this brings a heightened level of mindfulness to the ritual act.  In addition to enhancing your attunement with Deity, you create shining moments.

Shining gestures need not be limited to religious devotions or magical actions: they can also be brought into ordinary routines, including personal transactions.  For example, when paying your babysitter or the kid who rakes your yard, rather than just handing him or her a wad of dollar bills, you could put the money into one of those little red envelopes with gold-embossed characters used for making cash gifts at Chinese New Year—even when it isn’t Chinese New Year.  (You can get the envelopes at Asian markets.)  

Putting extra style and flair into one’s actions is very much part of the African aesthetic.  At our workshop, I mentioned Robert Farris Thompson’s theories on how “the flash of spirit” is brought into Kongo decorative and performative arts in order to activate spiritual power and magic.  We also find this aesthetic at work in ordinary transactions.  So, if I recall correctly, (sorry—I have forgotten the source), I read the account of an anthropologist who loaned a local chieftain his typewriter, and as a “thank you” gesture, the chief had his head wife’s beautiful younger sister deliver the anthropologist three mangoes on a decorated plate.  The anthropologist noted the chief could have just handed him a bag of rice as an equivalent offering, but such a prosaic gesture would have gone against the culture’s way of doing things.  Instead, having a beautiful, high status woman present an arrangement of fruits that was decorative yet elegant in its simplicity elevated the act into a shining gesture, as well as a performance.

I will try to pursue the idea of bringing artfulness and beauty into magic, as well as the magic of everyday living, (and also try to explain a bit about glamour bombing), in upcoming blogposts.  Meanwhile, if any of my readers have ideas or personal examples for bringing the quality of shining into your actions, or just doing common things with a little extra flair, I would really enjoy hearing about them.