Wednesday, 14 December 2016

How to be happier in the everyday?

Apologies for being MIA since October! I've been catching up with studies, work, hobbies and social life and also experiencing a bit of a writer's block with this blog. What to write about? The internet is full of clever, informative and inspirational blogs, including tarot themed, and I've felt there's not much I can add to the discussion. But then, I remembered the words of a song that translate like this:

"everything that can be done has been done, everything that can be seen has been seen,
everything that can be touched has been touched by many hands,
but not with your hands, not with your eyes,
not with your soul before you've tried it all yourself."

I like the message about: nothing's completely original, but every one of us has something new to offer, because we are all unique with our unique histories and experiences.

What is happiness?

I spend a lot of time thinking about happiness. Not just my own personal happiness, and how to stay happy, but other people's happiness and the concept of happiness in general. My PhD studies focus on the quality of life, everyday happiness and mindfulness. In particular, I'm interested in the connection of beauty and happiness: can beautiful things, surroundings and experiences make people happier? Or can the lack of beauty make people unhappy?

I'm not talking about make-up, clothes etc. (even thought they are one part of the idea, depending on what's everyone's personal preference in beauty), but noticing beauty around in the world, in the everyday.

This is a branch of philosophy called everyday aesthetics. Mindfulness, a trendy concept, draws from everyday aesthetics in my opinion. Mindfulness simply means: be aware of every moment, stay focused on the now instead of drifting to the future or past, worries, regrets or anticipations.

Being mindful can mean enjoying your cup of coffee in peace, tasting every sip. The key concept in everyday aesthetics is similar: pause, enjoy and appreciate what you have around, what your senses capture. The sun dancing on the pot plant's leaves. The aroma and scent of morning coffee. The calming, rhythmic beat of the dishwasher. The vibrant colours of the fruit in a bowl. The shine and softness of your pet's fur.

I started practising tarot and "fortunetelling", because it was an intriguing concept and I wanted to know if it even can work.

I've come to a conclusion after five years of card-reading that yes it does seem to work, and even better it works for self-development and self-reflection. Tarot is an excellent tool to examine your own deep thoughts, emotions, motives, dreams, fears... every aspect of one's personality. I've grown much calmer, mature and dare I say wiser by using tarot regularly. And funnily enough, also more mindful, to stay in the present, noticing the beauty of the everyday.

Here's my spread to realise one's blessings:

  1. What is the best thing I have in my life right now?
  2. What do I have I take for granted?
  3. What should I discard from my life?
  4. What in life inspires me?
  5. Where or how to find that inspiration?
Below: some things that make me happy - beautiful places and sights from my hoods, equally nice to enjoy with loved ones or alone. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How to treat the risk of failure

One of my almost-daily routines is hanging out at Aeclectic Tarot Forum, which is an online discussion board for anyone interested in tarot and wanting to practice their reading skills and intuition in general.

I have shifted from other social media to AT, because in the tarot community, the focus is on self-improvement and helping others, whereas Facebook and other platforms are nowadays flooded with bad news, disrespectful language, trolling and other negative traits this species of ours can exhibit.
The more time I spend on Facebook, the more agitated and annoyed I get, whereas with AT, the more benevolent and refreshed I feel - it's funny what a big difference the language, attitude and ambience of a forum can make.

Because AT is anonymous, people discuss their issues openly. One of the common underlying currents of discussions is "I want to do thing X, but my family/friends/social circles oppose/ridicule/don't approve it". No person is an island and whatever people around us say and think, affects us. positively or negatively. But. How can we ever achieve anything in life, if we put too much emphasis on other people's opinions?

For instance, I want to be a novelist one day. I have supportive and encouraging people around, but also those who don't think I can make it. It is possible I can't. But it's also possible I can. And the only way to find out is to give it a proper try - do my best to become what I want to be, even when it comes with the risk of failure.

People around us often think they know better, see the risks better, are more realistic than us or otherwise just have more authority to tell how to live our lives. But is that really true?

It's actually just a perception. The louder or more convincing these critics are, the more credible they sound. However, being loud or sounding confident don't make anyone right. And nobody else but you can know, whether something is good or right or doable for you.

But here's the trick. You need to believe in yourself to make it work - whether this is a new job, relationship, studies or business. Critics around can take that self-confidence away, thus spiralling you to a failure and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I told you so! When in fact, if they had not told you so, you wouldn't have failed. Tricky, isn't it?

My motto in life is:

nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

This (perhaps foolishly?) bold and straightforward attitude could be best described by wands tarot cards, i.e. those that depict willpower, inner fire, drive, motivation and wants. However, I think it's best captured by the slow and even dull-looking
7 Pentacles.
The traditional 7 Pentacles of Rider Waite Smith deck shows a farmer assessing his crop. Only one ripe pentacle has dropped, the rest might still fail or succeed. The only thing to do is to keep trying and hope for the best.
Tarot of the Pagan Cats shows a different side of 7 Pentacles - curiosity and play. Any dream, project or plan in life starts with curiosity (could it work? what if it worked?)  and at best, is fuelled by play: fun, exploration, creativity, excitement. Even if the dream fails after all, experiencing those elements on the way make it worth trying.
Every farmer knows that the crop might wither and die. No matter how much you've watered, tended and cared for it, it could still fail. But then again, there could be a huge reward, a bounty, a successful harvest. The only way to know is to try - not just half-heartedly, but giving it the best you've got.

I value tarot as a tool because looking at the cards and pondering them peels off layers in our thinking that are plastered in there by other people.

Looking at the pictures analytically or semi-meditatively should reveal what your real thoughts and feelings about any given matter are, free and pure from others' influence. How could I best make this project work? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What could I do to strengthen the strengths and weed off the weaknesses? How to best go about with this dream of mine?

These are all empowering questions that help you forward, instead of dwelling on "I really want to do it and I think I could, but everyone says it's not wise/easy/possible/for me." Well, everyone can say that the sun will be blue tomorrow, but it doesn't make it true, does it?

Here's a spread to explore a plan or dream you're unsure about. Pull 1-3 cards for each question, depending on your preferences and reading skills.

New plan or dream - analysis spread

1. What do I believe this plan/dream will give me if it works?
2. What is the real reason I hesitate achieving it?
3. How can I overcome my hesitation?
4. What skills I have that will most help me with achieving this?
5. What in my life or thinking is hindering me from achieving this?
6. What will my life be like when I have achieved this?
7. How to best start moving towards this goal?
8. How to encourage myself to keep going until I reach my goal?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

When to change plans? Ask tarot

One of the most common questions tarot readers get is along the lines: should I keep doing what I'm doing, or change the plan and do something else?

This question repeats in every area of life: studies, work, love and relationships with loved ones in general. It is, indeed, tricky to know when to continue and when to change course. The main problem, however, is not necessarily lack of knowledge, new ideas or plans, it's this:

8 Swords.
8 Swords, Rider Waite Smith tarot.
Often in life, when we've been putting in a lot of effort on something, it feels unbearable to think that no fruit came of it. Changing a plan feels like a failure. We often don't feel at ease to quit studies, change careers, change partners or cut out friends, even when it feels there's nothing but roadblocks. The feeling of a roadblock is real, but here's the catch: the roadblock itself is not.

Tarot card 8 Swords symbolises a situation where we can't see a way forward. We're so set on one course or one thinking pattern, that we don't realise nothing else but our own worries, assumptions, expectations and beliefs are stopping us. There's always a choice - a different choice.

8 Swords of Anna K tarot shows, how the feeling of being trapped is just a projection or illusion. The person is free, holding a sword - symbolising power, knowledge and clarity of thought - but she believes she's trapped. In reality, nothing but her own thoughts are keeping her captive.
I once read that an average person makes thousands of choices every day without counting them.

We decide whether to get up or not. Whether to have breakfast or not. What to have for breakfast? What to wear for work? To go to work at all or not? Do some pilates before work or not? Catch a bus or drive? Start with task A or task B? Have a chat with Bernie or Bonnie? Leave early or stay late? Shop at Fresh Groceries or Fresh Produce? Send a few job applications at night? Sign up for couples' counselling or not?

Now, usually it feels that these are not actual choices. Many are self-evident, automated motions we have to carry out to simply live life. But, from a philosophical point of view, they are all choices. And if we chose differently, our day and life would be different.

8 Swords is the mindset where things happen and thoughts are thought, because that's how it's always done. But technically, we could NOT go to work. NOT talk to Bonnie the Boss, but Bernie the Jovial Friend. NOT go shopping at all but drive to Vegas to spend all our money, never come back and forget our job and marriage troubles forever.

Maybe not the best decisions, but decisions and choices nevertheless. And if any of the daily choices are different than usually, the day is different and can gradually produce a different life, when changes and different choices accumulate.

To wind back to bigger life choices. How to know when a change of plans is in order, and how to encourage oneself to take that step?

It can feel daunting to admit that nothing came of this field of studies, career, or relationship. What will everyone else say? How will I be viewed? How can I justify to myself or others I've spent so much time on this, and now I've got no results to show?

This, again is the 8 Swords: feeling trapped due to thoughts. Thoughts are only mental constructions and ways to see the situation, and they can be changed: negative, limiting thoughts produce trapped behaviour; whereas positive, expansive, curious thoughts produce new choices, new plans, new vistas.

I used to do a lot of knitting and that was a hobby that thought me the necessity of sometimes going back and fixing things from the root. If I made a mistake with the pattern, it could not be patched up later on. My creation would very visibly show, almost radiate the fact there was an error. I often had to undo what I had knit, unravel perhaps an hour's work. What a pain. And yet, it simply had to be done to get the best result. If I'm putting a lot of effort into something, why accept grade C quality?

Life is a lot like knitting. We try to create something the best we can, sometimes we follow a pattern, sometimes we wing it, but in every case, if there is a mistake made or wrong turn taken, we might need to humbly go back and do it again - change course, no matter how late it feels.

Nobody excels at living and nobody's life is error free. So let yourself out of the mental jail and stop judging your earlier choices; more importantly, stop listening to anybody who judges your choices.

If something needs to be changed or fixed, don't be afraid of unravelling. What you build next can be much better. At least it's different, and a source for different lessons.

Here's a spread that can help (pull 1-3 cards for each question depending on your preferences and skills).

When and how to change plans?

What in my life needs to change?

To what direction should the change be?

What action to take to change it?

What have I learned from going through this path until the change?

What in my life needs to stop altogether?

How to stop it?

What in my life needs to start?

How to start it?

Tarot cards 8 Wands and 8 Cups symbolise taking action (or communication); and realising that something does not bring joy any more or won't become fulfilling, no matter how much we try. So, it's better to move on and take action to change plans.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tarot as a moral compass

Studying tarot has been a major eye-opener or rather, a mind-expander, for myself in the areas of a world view, values and thinking patterns. Since I started reading tarot, I've become more mature, calm and zen in life in general. How and why did that happen?

When I first stumbled on tarot some five years ago, I was mostly curious about its symbolism - I have a degree in art history and I've been drawn to understanding and deciphering symbols and codes since the start of my studies, in the best Dan Brown / Da Vinci Code manner.

Quite soon, I became enticed by tarot's divination skills: how could such a thing possibly exist and were the divinatory "powers" tarot clearly seemed to have (based on my Excel spreadsheets I kept to track my predictions) merely an illusion or a real thing? And if they were a real thing, how could that possibly be true from any scientific point of view I knew?

After encountering tarot, I became less enthusiastic about the reductionist, scientific and rather simplistic world view (matter is all there is) and other, more layered, metaphysical explanations started to make more sense.

I became more and more interested in the Eastern spiritualism (inc. Buddhism, Taoism etc.) and later on, on the traditions of Western Mysticims, including New Age but also other streams such as the Golden Dawn (one of the occult societies that created their own version of tarot cards in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries), Theosophy, Druidism, Wiccan etc.

I don't subscribe to any religion or specific spirituality, but perhaps Theosophy hits closest to home with the idea that everyone should study and learn from every possible philosophy, religion and spiritual tradition, to form their own views and be as informed as possible = to be the lovers of wisdom, theo sophists.

I have not concluded how it could be possible that tarot can have any divinatory powers. The cards definitely seem to have them, for sure. I have predicted, for instance, meeting my husband, certain events happening at work, a couple of major arguments coming up with close relatives, and so on. I'll discuss my theory later on. Today, I'm more interested in discussing the "we see what we focus on"-theory.

I think that at its most rudimentary level, tarot is just a trigger for intuition in the same way than clouds, flames, foliage, or even wallpaper patterns can be. The human mind is incredibly apt in finding patters, forms and images - making meaning - where there is none. I believe we see patterns and images in the clouds, tree canopies, in the fur of our pets and practically, wherever, because we project what's in our mind anyway.

Tarot is all about looking at pictures and understanding their symbolic meanings. Normally, cards are rich in imagery and there is always something different to focus on. For one person, a white lily in the picture jumps out, because s/he is contemplating a matter that relates to innocence, children, purity of thought etc. For another reader, a medieval sword in the picture draws attention because his/her mind is occupied with thoughts about arguments, need for clarity, painful/hurtful words = blades etc.

People in general see meaning where it is only hinted - to the point where it becomes a problem. Think of all the times you - or perhaps your significant other - read something between the lines and it was, in fact, completely off base, only brought into existence by your own fears or hopes?

With tarot, the trick is to see meaning, but not too much of it. Intuition can't be paranoia or wishful thinking. How to find the exact amount of gut feeling? With practice. We know much more about life, ourselves and other people than we realise, but that requires careful tuning into the quietest wave lengths of our mind: it's about hearing the whispers, the hunches, the tiniest signs we've captured earlier without realising it.

As mentioned at the beginning, tarot has had a very educational role in my own life. When I focus on the tarot cards, I see messages of wisdom, patience and good will. Cards that repeat in my readings, highlight issues and recommend ways to fix things. For example, I have made a deliberate effort to become less fiery/trigger happy and more understanding and emphatic in arguments, because of the repeating message I've picked from the cards. Of course, the repeating cards can be a mere coincidence. And still, after I've understood and incorporated the message, the repetition stops.

Seeing messages in tarot or in any other medium can be explained by the fact that the human mind is tuned to see  meaning everywhere. I've seen meaning in random cards and it is not necessarily anything mystical. On the other hand, if seeing meaning improves the quality of life, is that a bad thing or wrong? Of course not.

Why and how has tarot made me calmer and more mature? I think it's partly because of self-reflection the cards give prompts for; and partly because of the divinatory properties.

Whether or not I can prove that the predictions are true, I feel that I can know what's coming up and there is a reason why certain events happen. That makes me much calmer towards any upheaval or sudden change in the future.

With advance notice, there's less reason for stress. And with the world view that everything happens for a reason and contains a lesson to draw from, hardly anything is scary. It just is. We always have a chance to decide, how to feel about matters, how to react, what action to take, how to fix or change or adapt into the situation.

I think that tarot in itself can be a way of life. Reading cards is often accompanied by some spiritual world view, but not always. Perhaps the only thing that connects all the readers is the idea that random pictures can trigger the intuition to know more than it otherwise could. Tarot is, at its core, about expanded knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of oneself and others.

Tarot to me is an inherently empathetic messaging channel; to me the cards always show the high road, the better way, the more moral take on the issue. Perhaps it's nothing more than a reflection of my own subconscious, but luckily my subconscious seems very concerned about the well-being of others AND myself, and hence, has helped me to become a better person. Thanks tarot! :)

Can the cards really know what's going on or what should be done? Actually, it doesn't matter. It's the reader who makes sense of the pictures and finds meaning in patterns with his/her intuition. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Are you a grounded person and why it matters?

The purpose of this blog is to discuss topics that people often ask from the cards/card readers, and offer insight on what I have learned about difficult matters such as reconciliation, getting along with someone who's challenging, or making decisions when things don't seem to move on.

I thought this time I could talk about something that I have been struggling with to learn.

Grounding oneself.

This is the topic every mindfulness teacher, meditation guru or yoga enthusiast seems to be preaching, but what does it actually mean?

Feeling grounded can mean feeling in balance, or feeling steady, or feeling in control of one's life. But does it mean you won't budge or be flexible? How to tell the difference between being grounded and balanced, and being fixated, stubborn or defensive? And furthermore: how to achieve this magical grounded state? What's the purpose of it or what are the benefits of it?

I am a curious and interested person in general and read a lot, about any topic under the sun: politics, news, environment, arts and culture, social issues, lifestyle, tarot, mindfulness, life change, and so on. Consequently, I have quite a big of a memory bank of assorted facts and bits of info. I also love interacting in the social media, but unfortunately I have had to admit to myself that I'm not very skilled at it. In terms of staying balanced, grounded and helpful.

I was not making a positive difference.

Probably we all know how chats or debates on Facebook and elsewhere online can turn sour or heated with a couple of insensitive comments and I have not done my bit to keep it civil. I'm not one to call names, because I believe when your resort to yelling at someone (either vocally or by texting) "you're an idiot", you've lost it: the other person won't listen nor respect you and that's the end of any fruitful interaction.

However, I used to pride myself for stingy little witty remarks that shut up the other person. I thought I won the argument. But did I?

Of course not.

What happens in situations like that is that the other leaves the conversation and continues to believe what they believe, perhaps even double convinced that it's their job to expose the big conspiracy about the world government faking the climate change - whereas I'm in the camp green and hoping to change our lifestyle to more sustainable before it's too late.

With a lot of contemplation, both on purpose and subconsciously, and also with a business mentor, I've finally reached a state when I understand where my need to win stemmed.

From fear.

Subconsciously, I've been thinking that if I give room to opinions that drastically differ from mine, I'm allowing my beliefs and convictions to be slowly nibbled away and they will disappear or be "overruled" by someone else.

And this is where groundedness or "being centred" comes at play. 

Being grounded simply means I understand what are my core values and where my emotional or intellectual roots are. A person who is grounded is able to be flexible and curious, like a resilient coastal tree in the wind, but it won't snap, nor it will be ripped away by the storm. After encountering a bit of a gush or a full-on storm, the tree simply wavers back to its spot and continues life.

A grounded person does not have a need to try to overrule others, or aggressively oppose their views. The person knows s/he is who s/he is, no matter what others think. And a grounded person is able to be open to others' views, curiously and maturely, to learn and evolve within and around one's core.

Of course, there are opinions in this world that are nothing but hurtful; racism, sexism, or any sort of discrimination or bullying. But a grounded person is able to stand up against those with calm wisdom and properly thought-through arguments; and also with understanding that these views usually rise from fear or misunderstandings. The calmer and more respectful the discussion, the better the outcome, usually.

Here's a little tarot spread to examine this topic - what  are your core values and how to be more grounded?

1. What is my core value?
2. Why does it matter so much to me?
3. What action can I take to feel more grounded?
4. What aspect in my thinking I should change to respect others' core values?
5. How to live a more balanced, satisfying life in general?

And a sample spread: 

1. THE EMPRESS. This is the card of the feminine principle/archetype: nurture and care, creation, nature, Gaia. For me personally it means appreciating nature and creativity in all its forms, because it is our divine purpose to live on this planet as its guardians and explore and express our creativity. This card absolutely nails my core value, well done tarot!

2. 7 PENTACLES. This card is about putting in effort to make something tangible happen: waiting for results. For me it says: my core value is important, because it's a way to make a difference, to make something new, to cultivate this living environment of ours towards better for all.

3. 10 CUPS. This is the card of happy community: a loving family, peaceful society, happiness and bliss shared with others. I should draw from my community and contribute to its harmony and joy with my own actions.

4. 2 PENTACLES. This card talks about balancing two equally important matters. Clearly I should remember that what is different, is not necessarily of lesser value. Other people's views can be equally important and there's no need for either party to give up on their beliefs - they can coexist.

5. THE CHARIOT. This card is about will-power, determination, driving towards a goal, wanting to achieve things. This is a bit tricky card for myself because it usually pops up to denote situations where someone is applying too much willpower; is steamrolling others. Maybe it's a reminder for me *not to do that*, but also remember to strive towards my goal to actively improve this world.

This world is full of different people with different "home beliefs"and the best course of action is simply to try to get along. Photo (c) Tarot for Change.

Friday, 29 July 2016

How to use tarot to reconcile with someone?

One of the most common questions tarot readers get is along these lines: "how do I reconnect with someone I've lost from my life (an ex, a friend, a relative)" or even more commonly: "when will we reconnect - when will the other person take action to mend it all?" This question is also often accompanied by "does x regret what they did to me / how they behaved / that they cut ties?"

This is, of course, very natural to ask. If a friendship or love has gone sour, usually one person was more keen to leave than the other and that always leaves a pining party. Even in situations where the break-up or fall-out was a mutual decision, people change their mind over time and start remembering all the good of that relationship. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and same applies with time passing. 

Also, people seem to be "wired" to be very aware and concerned about fairness. Studies on monkeys have shown that our furry cousins also understand the concept of fairness and get offended, if - for example - other monkeys get more or better treats for the same tasks in a test. Monkeys also know how to share and are happy to give some of their treats to others to be fair and loyal, i.e. worth friendship and alliances. 

Same goes with us humans. There is hardly anything as painful as the feeling of being wronged. We normally can't comprehend nor stand the feeling and knowledge that someone has done something unfair towards us - in particular if that was on purpose. People can spend days, weeks and even years trying to figure out what happened, why, and in the worst case scenario, holding a grudge and/or plotting revenge. 

We probably all know that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, so for the sake of a better life, it's always a good plan to either try to solve the problem or move on. Or both. 

I as a reader prefer action-oriented questions such as "what can I do to resolve this?" instead of asking "when will things turn better, or when will the other person take action?" That's because waiting for someone else to deliver is bound to cause more anxiety and helplessness than taking the risk of action.

I also find questions such as "is x regretting their actions" not-very-useful, because there is always a chance that x indeed is not regretting, at all. Not everyone is mature enough to treat others with kindness and respect, and not everyone is mature enough to see any fault in themselves. Realising that x did what they did with no remorse whatsoever might cause more pain and anger than needed. 

As a subject of wrongdoing, it's always up to us to make the decision whether we're ready to forgive, regardless of how regretful the other person is. Victims of narcissists, for example, might never find a day when the wrongdoer regrets - because s/he is not capable of it. 

Asking waiting-oriented questions in the flavour of "when will things happen to me?" is nothing but a way to frustration. The least we can do with the help of tarot - instead of drawing a card after card hoping for the best - is to ask questions to better understand the situation and what really caused the trouble in the first place. After all, what you believe was the reason for the fall-out, might be completely different to the other party. 

For example, I have a wrong button to push and that's people doubting my creativity or intelligence. I've had arguments where I've jumped into a conclusion that the other person is criticising or belittling these, when in fact, the other person did not mean that at all. Always ask, always clarify, always try to talk things through when both are calmed down. 

I am a firm believer of direct action in terms of taking the initiative. If you strongly feel you want to reconnect with someone, do it. Regardless of who "should" be the first to extend a hand. Contact them. Their response will tell, if the bridge can be rebuilt. If it can't, find a way to move on in peace. That person was not meant to be in your life for longer than this, and whatever happened, taught you both a lesson. Something else, something new is awaiting for you.

Here's a spread I made to examine what went wrong and how to try to reconnect:
  1. The core of the matter?
  2. How I feel about this matter?
  3. How x feels about this matter?
  4. How I feel about reconnecting?
  5. How x feels about reconnecting?
  6. If I contact x, what's the most likely response I get?
  7. What's the most likely outcome if I approach x?
  8. What's the most likely outcome, if I don't approach x?
  9. The lesson of this matter to me?
  10. The lesson of this matter to x?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

How to handle naysayers?

How to deal with people who are putting you or your plans and dreams down? We all have encountered one or two (or a dozen) of those in life and will keep encountering them, both IRL (in real life) and online, there's unfortunately no way out of it. But how to handle those situations without losing your temper, face or self-esteem in the process?

Six years ago, I made a decision to move to Australia. I had lived abroad before and wanted to turn my life around completely, due to general dissatisfaction with my career prospects, climate, and cultural atmosphere in general (pessimistic and whinging) at home. I wanted to see what else is there (btw I absolutely love that song of the same title by Royksopp, a Norweigan duo).

I got two kinds of responses to my foolishly courageous plans to quit my well-paying job, leave everything behind, sell my belongings and hop on a plane with no visibility about if I would succeed. Others thought I'm brave and adventurous. Others said I'm mad and warned me profusely about how I'll fail and regret my choice.

I left anyway.

We all get a cr@ploads of criticism in life: some think we should have kids. Some think we shouldn't have kids. Some think we should have more kids. Some think we should have decided to have fewer kids. Some think we should change jobs. Some think we should stay in our current job. And so on, ad infinitum.

To be able to deal with this, it's essential to figure where the criticism is really coming from. It actually has very little to do with my or your decisions. It has everything to do with the worldview of the critic.

Surprisingly many people have a - subconscious - mindset like this: "Other people's decisions that contradict my life, are critique towards me, hence I have to defend my decision by attacking their decisions; or I need to convert them to believe in my values and worldview."

People with kids can think that childless couples are undermining the value of a family and sacrifices of parents. People in steady (but perhaps dull) jobs can think that more entrepreneurial people are critiquing their decision to stay put instead of chasing dreams they once had.

We are all part of a so called "world-making project" (a word from philosophy and sociology) where other people's behaviour is setting an example for us and vice versa. 

What is common for us to see, we believe is normal, and if our common and normal is questioned, we start fearing that we have to change our lives too at some point in the future, because the normal itself has changed. Or, that our decisions won't be as widely accepted in the future, because we are no longer the norm, the majority, the typical.

This, I believe, is behind the fierce attacks against legalising same sex marriage. Some people in traditional marriages can't stand the idea that their marriage is made "less normal" by expanding the definition of marriage.

My point is that whenever you encounter a naysayer or a critic - regarding your tarot business, alternative lifestyle, pre-Christian religion/spirituality, or anything else under the sun - remember it's not about you. It's about the critic.

It's revealing what their worldview and normal are, and how they are struggling with understanding your normal. It's not a reason to change your beliefs, but it is an opportunity to engage: why is the person so invested in convincing you that you have to change, or change your dreams and plans? How are your dreams and plans "threatening" this person? How can you assure that your normal is, in fact, enriching the world, not taking away from it?

Here's a little spread I devised to explore your own bias, to be mindful of it. 

  1. What do I believe about the world? 
  2. What in my beliefs is something others find hard to accept?
  3. What in others' beliefs is something I find hard to accept?
  4. What is the best action for me to take to bridge the gap between me and others (naysayers)?
  5. How to build my confidence to believe in my message/dream?
And a sample reading:

1 - 6 PENTACLES Reversed. I believe that everyone has something to give (to me and others). I only have to look for opportunities and take what comes, acknowledge the blessings. I read the 6 Pents rx as me receiving something and 6 Pents upright as me (or the querent) giving something to others.

2 - TEMPERANCE. People don't think it's easy to have a balanced give and take. It takes a lot of effort to understand that when you give, you're not being taken advantage of. If you give freely, it will come back to you in one form or another; and if you receive, you should pay it forward. 

3 - 8 WANDS Reversed. Others believe it's better to keep your thoughts to yourself and not act too fast. I don't believe in non-communication: in fact, I think the world needs more honesty and discussion, genuine attempts to try to understand each other, and more action to sort problems.

4 - FOOL. Don't care, just move on, walk your own path. True! :D

5 - CHARIOT. Trust that you have the willpower to make the life you want, and tell the messages you believe in. Don't budge or dodge, just do it.

If you have a vision, believe in it. If others don't believe in it, it just means they are not on the same mental platform yet. Photo (c) Tarot for Change.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Guest blogger: what does Capricorn full moon 2016 bring?

Today, we have a guest blogger from the other side of the globe to share her tarot wisdom. Meet Mia Alviz from Spain, the owner of Readings by Mia.

"I declare myself "tarobsessed". I live in Spain and make a living out of my passion: Tarot. With a taste for traditional European divination and crystal healing, my aim as a professional is to provide my querents with honest, meaningful and empowering insight as well as building a legacy into the Tarot community."

Mia did a reading for Tarot for Change to explore the main energy of the full moon in Capricorn tomorrow, 20th July. And this is what she has to say:

Mia: I've recently started flirting with astrology,so when I discovered I could mix it with Tarot I though "Yay!"
That's what inspired me for this post, so, let's analyse the upcoming Full Moon in Capricorn.

(My deck of choice has been The Deck of the Dead, by Seven Stars). 

This new moon definitely promises a fun ride, having the Chariot depicting its main energy. Its effects won't go unnoticed for sure. This will be a time for rejoicing in our accomplished goals as well as for gathering new energies for our next ones. 
The Chariot, the Deck of the Dead.
As a positive aspect, the Ace of Swords shows that signals can be more evident during theses days, and we should pay attention to the messages we could receive, as they are meant to help us along the way. As well, if we've been putting off important conversations, it is a good moment to say what we need to communicate.

On the other hand, we can feel particularly sensitive to strong emotions and our mood could be quite unstable for a while, perhaps making us shed some tears as the Five of Cups forecasts. However, we shouldn't stay stuck in what ifs, for the purpose of this energy is to show us how far we've come. 

In love matters, we have Two of Swords we might feel quite defensive, an perhaps it would be useful to thing about our layers of self-protection and their root causes, so we can analyse wheter we really need them or the time for being vulnerable again has come. 

It can also be a rough time for our personal projects, since we could see some of them tear apart with the Three of Swords, nevertheless, in case this happens, we will manage to rebuild stronger foundations of our projects and this will only be a temporary setback that will bring long term benefits.
3 Swords, the Deck of the Dead.
Spiritually, it's time to rejoice, The Sun's energy is shining and it is time to go back to the basics and enjoy our spiritual connection as children do, no questions asked, just getting filled with its bright and lively energy.

*** Sounds like an excellent full moon, then! ***

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Difference between possible and impossible

I joined a new pilates/yoga studio a couple of weeks ago and go often, partly because it's energising, partly because it's direct debited fortnightly for unlimited access, so I better get value for money!

I've practised yoga sporadically for five years now (sometimes multiple times per week, sometimes not at all for a month or two) and it's an activity where you gradually and reliably see the change in your skills, flexibility and balance. Slowly, slowly at first, but faster once you get the hang of it. Of course the main purpose is to learn to be more mindful, calm and centered, but the physical, fitness side is a great addition, too.

Yesterday, someone new joined my pilates class: an overweight 50+ lady. She struggled to keep up, which is more than understandable. Starting from zero is always hard, and it takes courage to join a class where you feel others are more fit and skilled than you. The teacher kept encouraging her in every turn and teaching her different methods to not make it all too challenging.

However, the new lady kept finding reasons (excuses?) why she can't do more than a couple of repeats per move. Instead of at least trying and persisting, she complained about cramps, panting, sweat, how it all feels uncomfortable. With every change of body position, she shuffled a good long minute longer than others - which made her drop out of the others' rhythm, then apparently feel she can't catch up anyway so she simply waited for the beginning of the next series of moves. And the same shuffling, delay and drop-out again, throughout the class.

This sounds judgemental and I admit I struggled with not judging her, but she was only harming herself by giving up from the get-go. Any type of exercise feels awkward and uncomfortable from the start, when you're not yet familiar with how it should feel and how great it can feel afterwards. She wasn't pushing herself, because she had not (yet or ever?) learned, that developing strength, balance and flexibility takes a few weeks to notice. Rewards don't come immediately and you don't even get the post-workout euphoria if there's no proper workout.

Of course I can't know what were her reasons for not persisting. But I've heard many times before people complaining how they exercise or diet and no results come. There is a good chance the exercise is not actually done as effectively as it should be: attending a class is not the same as actually doing a workout, pushing yourself, challenging and persevering.

The moral #1 of the story is not to judge anyone who's struggling with weight of fitness. It's to remember that everything in life takes work, effort, energy, time to succeed.

Yoga has actually taught me the meaning of the Hanged Man tarot card: it's about self-sacrifice, voluntary yet frustrating waiting, changing one's viewpoint instead of changing one's circumstances. Sometimes you must stay in an uncomfortable (yoga or life) position for longer than you'd possibly like, because it's good for you in the long run. And you'll only see the benefits later, after sufficient time - weeks, months or years.

The moral #2 of the story is: whatever we tell ourselves, we believe, and that becomes our reality. "It's too hard, it can't be done, I'm not fit enough, I'm not skilled enough, I don't know what to do anyway, everyone else is better than me, I can't succeed because everything and everyone is against me, I just have a body type that won't allow me to change, etc."

I've worked in four different fields, tried and played any sports I can think of, moved to new countries and travelled wide and far, because before embarking on any of these quests, I've told myself: "others have done it, I can do it too." And believed it. The usual limiting suspects, such as time, money, lack of skills etc. are not an actual, physical barrier, if you plan and prioritise differently.

Very few things in life are outright impossible, but a good number of things are at least semi-possible if you set your heart to it and stick with it. No excuses, no dodging, no giving up when the first roadblock comes or the first cramp hits.

If you can't achieve your full dream, maybe you can achieve at least half of it? 

With weight loss, maybe half of your target is better than no loss at all? Acquiring new skills: learning the basics of a new language is better than not learning at all. Changing jobs: finding a lower-paid position in a field that interests you is better than no change at all. Dating: putting yourself out there to learn confidence and socialising skills is better than not even trying, even if you don't find the Prince/Princess Charming immediately. And so forth.

And here's a tarot spread I created for identifying roadblocks and ways around them.

Pull 1-3 cards for each question depending on your interpretation skills and reading preferences

  1. What change or achievement I believe is not possible, when it actually is? 
  2. What can I do to make it happen?
  3. What negative situation or trait in myself I believe is permanent, and it's not?
  4. What to do to change it for better?
  5. What change or achievement for now is out of my reach? 
  6. What can I do to achieve or change some of it? 
  7. What trait in me helps me achieve goals?
  8. What trait in me hinders me from achieving goals?
  9. What to focus on to be the best possible version of myself?
And a sample reading:

1)  7 PENTACLES. This card is often read to meant "waiting for results", as it shows a person waiting for fruit to ripen. I read this to mean here: accumulating wealth, as my card shows a mother and a child ready to pick massive, plump apples.

2)  EMPEROR. This card means a structured, organised and assertive approach; stability and permanency. I think it means: accumulating wealth can happen with hard work, logical approach and wise investment decisions.

3)  7 WANDS. The uphill battle I'm currently in with my PhD studies and work. I'm doing my best to tackle all challenges, yet it feels I'm not moving forward at all. More issues and tasks pile up on me no matter how fast and well I work.

4)  9 PENTACLES. The card of enjoying one's freedom, independence, wealth, experience, achievements. Maybe I should take more time for myself, to enjoy my freedom and things I like. And also remember and appreciate the fact that I'm actually quite free both at studies and at work to handle things as I please.

5)  8 WANDS. Fast-paced action and messages bearing good news. I'm waiting/hoping for good news from multiple fronts regarding my studies and a creative project I'm undertaking, but clearly the action won't be fast in those areas. Well, good to know.

6)  3 CUPS. Find like-minded people, join "my tribe", enjoy company of friends. My friends, indeed, are helping me with the creative undertaking. Also, I should do more research online to find the best community, as I'm trying to find a University department to join next year as a visiting scholar.

7)  4 WANDS. The card of home, completions, celebrations. I work full-time in the office but I also work at home on my own stuff, which I truly enjoy. Also, I divide tasks into chunks that are easier to complete than the whole project, and I mark the mid-completions with celebration. It works!

8)  LOVERS. I believe I should only focus on things / people I love in life. However, this is not possible, because many tasks are simply boring, but necessary steps on the way to bigger achievements. For example, I'm much more prone to fiddle with my tarot cards in the evenings than read PhD material... and I should not let my heart dictate what I do so much!

9)  5 WANDS. The card of conflicts, frustrations, competition. I don't think I should be more anxious or frustrated, but maybe I should put myself out there to compete more: I can't achieve goals if I shy away from competition. However, as I am quite competitive already, I'm inclined to read this as a reminder to keep an eye on this tendency and only use it in appropriate occasions - fight for your goals when needed, but let others win where necessary to keep the balance right. 

I hope this offers interesting insights! 
Forge your own path marked with successes and joy. Photo (c) Tarot for Change.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Roadblocks of being a pro tarot reader

I wrote earlier about the start of my journey as a "professional", i.e. paid tarot reader. The reason I put professional in brackets is that this is not my full time job and I do "normal" office work as my full-time career. However, I think that once people are willing to pay for my insights, it is at least semi-professional, no matter how big or small sums of money we're talking about.

Because I want this blog to be a channel for useful information, I also believe in full disclosure, meaning no sugar coating. So, I've now hit my first road block as a professional reader and similar blocks probably come to anyone's path, who wish to make a living with or from tarot. If that is something you're planning, here are some real-life issues that might pop up to hinder your progress or rather, the money flow.

Firstly, I don't think tarot is a great way to become rich and it shouldn't be used for (solely) that purpose. Given that tarot is a form of giving advice, people always have other options to obtain advice such as chatting with friends, seeking for formal therapy/life coaching/healing, trying to figure all out on their own... so tarot as a product is "nice extra" for many to buy, it's not a life essential like groceries. Thus, finding for paying clients is always much harder than finding people who'd be happy to get a freebie just to try it out.

I started my paid readings on a bigger business website but unfortunately I didn't generate enough repeat customers to "earn" a continued spot on the site. The website seemed like a great idea at first and it worked in terms of getting regular reading requests and a steady flow of side income, but it was also very competitive between other readers on the site. The pressure is on to outperform the fellow readers, offer something no one else does and so on. Of course, this can lead to stellar service but it can also lead to "empathy overload" aka "unnecessary" repeat readings.

All the feedback I got from customers was positive: they got clear, solid advice to their problems and were happy to move on. Too happy, in a way: they did not need to come back to me to ask for clarifying questions or further advice, because I already laid out the options and what's likely to happen. Hence, no repeat customers, no repeat purchases, not enough cash flow to show to the site I'm worth keeping.

I did not have the knack to deliver readings in a way that persuades people to ask more paid questions or to seek more support and confirmation from tarot. I simply blurted it out there, clear cut, done and dusted, off you go. I also did not have heart to tell customers (stupidly, from my point of view) that I can't answer further questions so I often pulled an extra card on top of the paid cards, if further questions came up in the chat following a reading. Great for customers, bad for business.

I was given a period of 3-4 months to prove my worth and given that many people only pay for a reading every quarter, half a year or for an anniversary, New Year, birthday etc., I don't think that was long enough period to see how many of my customers were keen to come back.

I have also done email readings and face-to-face readings on my own account since Christmas and of these, I first enjoyed in person meetings better than online. I've slowly changed my mind, because reading in person takes  a lot of energy and also time (reading for 60-90 minutes in a row is much harder than flipping out a few cards for an email question). Doing readings after a full work day is actually much more draining I anticipated; for some reason most clients want to see me during the week, not during weekends.

In addition, people can get "addicted" to personal readings and come back time and time again to ask about the same or similar issues. By email this does not tend to happen, people seem more money-conscious when they order things online!

When I started this blog and reading services half a year ago, I consulted another professional tarot reader to see how I would go. I wanted to get an unbiased view instead of a reading tainted by fears or dreams of mine, done by me. She told me that time, timing, scheduling and exhaustion would be the main themes coming up. I wouldn't worry about money (which is true, given I have another paid job), but I would overwork if I didn't pace myself. I should preserve my energy and enthusiasm instead of splashing it all out there, full speed ahead from the beginning. And she turned out to be right. Now I've hit the roadblock she predicted, and I need to regroup and rethink what to do with this business.

I have now come to realise that to protect my own energy levels and interest towards tarot, I have to limit my exposure/immersion in it and focus solely on email readings for now. It does not generate nearly as much income as readings in person or readings on the big business website, but it's still an outlet for people to find me and for me to reach out to those who need tarot. Currently I sell one reading per month, whereas I used to do 5 readings per week on the big business website (priced around $20/each) and 1-3 face to face readings per week ($59/each).

This is a major plunge for me, but funnily enough, I'm not disappointed. All good things in life take time to develop and mature and for now, I feel better to focus on blogging and chatting about tarot instead of treating it as a full-day business.

I have not been as active as I could have in finding customers, and I'm sure I could be a bit further ahead business-wise if I had done all the networking, advertising and pitching I was planning to when I founded this blog. So I'm not saying someone else couldn't be already making some (up to half?) of their income through tarot after first six months in business. However, I do think it's more likely that to build a solid reputation and customer base tarot is a line of business that takes years to come to full fruition. This is to all antsy pants out there who want to be on top of the world within the next quarter! ;)

Best of luck for your tarot (or related esoteric) business if you have one, and feel free to ask a free 3-card sample reading from me. Any topic goes, I'll deliver within 24 hours unless there's a long queue of requests or something urgent stopping me - in which case I'll always let you know.

Requests to tarotsaskia(a)

Have a great mid-summer, if you're at the Northern Hemisphere, and great mid-winter, if you're Down Under or someplace else in the South Side!

Do you want to start your own business or other creative project? Make a wish, close your eyes to visualise it - and then follow through in practice. Takes time, effort and sweat, but that's the only way to succeed.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Who am I? - reading

Hello all again, greetings from Europe and Egypt. For the first time in 15 years, I had a chance to take a break longer than a month and boy did I enjoy it! Anyhow, let's move on straight to today's spread that I devised. It's about exploring yourself.

Me, myself and I

What is my core personality like? QUEEN OF CUPS. 

This Queen lives in the world of emotions, positive and negative. Everything in life is experienced through emotions first and foremost, not through logic and analysis, for example. Emotions can sometimes take over and be difficult to control. This Queen spends her time in experiencing and exploring different 'vibrations', living every day in the heart rather than in the head. Intuitive and introvert rather than logical and extrovert.

What makes me happiest in life? 6 SWORDS Rev. 

6 Swords upright is a card of leaving worries and turbulent thoughts behind, but reversed, it doesn't simply mean "arrival of worries". Rather I read it to mean - arrival of thoughts. I do love learning, reading, conversing... all methods of finding new information and things to ponder. This could also mean "ditching worries", the thoughts (swords) are not in the boat at all but are tipped over and vanish for good.

What strength do I have I take for granted? MAGICIAN.

The Magician is someone who can turn thoughts, plans and ideas into reality - can make things happen. The Magician does not only dream of new things or new directions, s/he brings them forward and makes them reality. Some people read the Magician as a con artists, but I don't believe in that interpretation as a sweeping generalisation. Sometimes the Magician can be a negative card, but the core meaning for me is: someone who can manifest their will in the world and take action to follow through.

What unhelpful personality trait or aspect I have successfully left behind? MOON Rev.

The Moon usually points to fears and illusions, things being hazy and unclear, coloured by our own imagination and instinctive, even primal fears. For years, I used to suffer from "existential panic attacks", fear of death in other words. Eventually, with a lot of help from tarot, I "grew out" of it, I don't delve in the otherworld (or the end of life) that excessively. The easing of the fear of death has also eased other fears - after all, excessive fear of death is survival instinct gone mad and that overdrive or agitation triggers all sorts of other fears too.

What is my most beneficial personality trait from others' perspective? 8 CUPS.

I don't hold grudge or regrets, I move on. 8 Cups is a card of leaving an emotionally draining or negative situation behind for good, going on a quest to seek for new fulfilment. There's no delving in negativity or memories, there's straightforward action of putting a stop to it and moving on.

What is my most beneficial personality trait for myself? WORLD.

The will and keenness to learn, to complete, to become the best possible version of myself. The World is a card of achievements, completion, lessons learned, things coming together to form a whole book instead of individual chapters or sentences. It is not so much about ambition but the will to do and know what there is to do and know, to elevate oneself to the next level of understanding and experiences.

Who am I growing to be (what direction is my personality evolving)? 9 SWORDS

9 Swords is a card of excessive worrying, losing sleep over troubles or issues that, in fact, are not that serious after all. This is a card I don't really recognise in this position. Yes, I occasionally worry about all sorts of matters in life and love, but I don't think it's taking over other personality traits. This card often pops up for me, though, in situations where the answer is "duh, you know it, don't ask." It's like tarot's "quit being helpless, will ya?". My deck seems as blunt as I am :D

I feel I'm evolving and maturing in general so I sort of knew the answer and indeed, I got a clarifying card the Strength: the card of zen, control of emotions and impulses with willpower.

What should I do more to support my growth? 2 PENTACLES.

2 Pentacles is a card of a balancing act, juggling two things that are of equal importance. It can talk about two people, or it can mean work/life balance, or other matters that require equal focus. For me this card has a personal meaning and it talks about my professional career and my "side career" of a range of creative undertakings, including this blog and tarot services: live both sides of life to the fullest with equal attention and no neglect.

What should I stop doing to support my growth? QUEEN OF SWORDS.

This Queen is analytical, clear-headed, straightforward and honest to the point of being blunt. This Queen lives her life through head and analysis: no stone is left unturned, no emotion unanalysed, no motifs, words or actions without scrutiny. I usually identify with this Queen because she's not just an analyser and thinker, she's also a communicator, observer of life and love. However, recently I've been slipping on the side of overanalysing (other people's words and actions and my own feelings regarding those) so it's not healthy to get stuck  in one's own head.

General advise for a better life? 7 WANDS.

Stand your ground, be brave in what you believe in, protect and defend what you hold valuable. 7 Wands is the card of valiant action, standing one's ground even when others are against it, or defending a cause that is under attack. Or, going on with one's plans when others don't support them. One of the most difficult things in life is to find your own standing, to trust your own view when others criticise or attack it, openly or subtly. I think we are all here learning to do exactly this: not to bend under pressure but make our own judgements about what is good and bad, right and wrong, worth stepping up.

I hope this spreads provides insights for self exploration and growth!

Happy light midsummer for the Northern Hemisphere readers!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Blog break - bon voyage!

This blog has not died a death, it's on a break until I come back from an extended trip in June. Stay tuned!

Photo via Tumblr.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Everyday happiness series - what we accept, we get

Here's a new post for my everyday happiness - series, this time discussing how we actively co-create our lives by a mere act of accepting. The previous parts are 1# - How to be happier? and 2# - How to quit worrying and envying?

Teaching #3: what we accept, we get

Or, the standards you pass by, are the standards you accept.

How many times have you thought - why am I being treated this poorly or unfairly? Chances are, in average life, that at least a few. Hopefully not every day. But if you think that way every day, this post is definitely for you.

Let's start with a story about my own life. I migrated to Australia with my then-husband (whom I found in my early 20's) years ago, but due to a number of things - huge personality clashes being the major issue - we ended up separating pretty soon after the relocation. I was in a new country with only a handful of (not-yet-so-close) friends, away from all the familiar safety nets such as my family and old friends. To get back on my feet and to manage financially, I decided to find a flatmate.

This flatmate was found quickly and on the outside, she was the sweetest, sunniest thing you can imagine. However, I soon learned that I had walked into a trap. She had her own reasons to live with a flatmate and those reasons revolved around having a crutch to lean on in everything - housework, socialising, and taking care of all of her practical and emotional issues.

Within three months, our cohabitation had spiralled into coercion by emotional blackmail - not a day went by I didn't hear "everyone else would do this for me", "a true friend would do this", "if you were a decent person, you'd do this", etc. The expected tasks ranged from scrubbing the toilet floor, doing her grocery shopping and putting together her IKEA furniture to inviting her to every single social gathering I went (she didn't seem to have many friends of her own, despite the social media appearances).

At first I was happy to help, because I thought it would be a win-win and give-give situation. Of course I can pick a few things in the supermarket for her, too, while I'm there. She had a health condition, so of course I could do some of the heavier tasks. Surely she would help me in turn, too? Right?

Well, that didn't happen. Somehow it was always me doing, giving, helping, taking care of stuff. And not getting a lot in exchange, not even gratitude.

Then, Christmas came and I bought her a present - just something inexpensive as a polite token - and instead of thank you I got an angry response: "now you made me feel bad, I don't have anything for you, why did you do this!". Later on, I learned she was siphoning a portion out of our rent monies so I actually had paid more than needed. I got so fed up I moved out immediately.

The reasons why I tolerated that in the first place were: 
  • I believed her claims that "a good friend / anyone else would do this, why wouldn't you."
  • I didn't have many other people to turn to and I was afraid I'd lose the few friends I had if I actively "rebelled"- I may have been seen as a selfish person if I hadn't helped a flatmate.
  • I had a very nice apartment in the city centre I'd need to give up if I moved - there was no way I could have afforded something as nice on my own.
  • I thought "this probably is how it is for everyone, there's nothing out of the ordinary going on", regardless of the nagging feeling that I'm being taken advantage of.

Now, this is not nearly as severe as being in an abusive relationship or being bullied at work (or school), but it taught me clearly that the phrase "what we accept, we get" is true. If I had stayed, I would have got more of the same and the chances are the emotional blackmail would have spiralled to be worse. I was already losing time, effort and money, I could have been losing my self-esteem and my own life, too - she was actively undermining my dreams and tried to dig a trench between me and my brand new love interest.

I walked out of this experience just with a few surface scratches but it was an eye-opener for why people stay in relationships that are hurtful and harmful. Because it's so easy to slip into thinking that this is what everyone's life is and surely others wouldn't make a fuss out of something this insignificant. Hardly any abuser starts with a full-blown beating - it starts with small but constant undermining and emotional and mental manipulation to make you think you are in the wrong and they are in the right; and you are just being silly and selfish if you don't agree. 

But this is where everyone's inner voice comes at play. Is this right? Am I being treated right? Is this what I want for myself (or for my children/others involved)? Is this the life I dream of?

The same applies to any relationship and situation. Are you disrespected or mistreated at work? Speak up, gather evidence, gather support groups, lodge a formal complaint or leave the place. It won't get better by itself nor by accident. 

Is your partner being unfair or worse, abusive either verbally or physically? Speak up, seek help, leave if needed. I know it's not easy but it won't magically change to better. Someone must take action and if it's not you, who could it be? It won't be the abuser because they are getting exactly what they need by keeping you at bay. 

The same teaching applies to much milder everyday situations, such as someone being rude. Don't take it. Stay firm and don't let someone's lack of manners dig into your personal space. It only tells who they are, not about who you are. I personally stay away from name calling during arguments, because I want to keep the conversation or debate civil. I've never yelled at anyone "you're a fucking idiot", because I would then open the gates to be called the same. 

Here's a tarot spread to examine this topic in more depth: 
  1. What am I accepting from others I shouldn't?
  2. What action can I take to change it?
  3. How am I behaving towards others I shouldn't?
  4. What action can I take to change it?
  5. How to feel more centred and empowered?
  6. How to behave to invite better treatment towards myself?
9 Wands, Witches Tarot. Defend your truth, message and authenticity (8 Wands) with your passion, drive and motivation (Ace of Wands) - don't let anyone walk over you. We all have the same right to exist and become the best versions of ourselves. 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Everyday happiness - series: how to ditch worries and envying?

This post relates to my series "how to find more everyday happiness?" I mentioned when I started this series that I get to attend courses at work regularly on work life balance, mindfulness etc. and this series is inspired by the most pertinent teachings I've encountered. Here's the first part, Teaching #1: what you focus on, will expand.

Teaching #2: worry and envy feel useful, but are not

Of course, in the idea world, no one would need to worry or feel envious, ever. But in this reality of ours, these emotions come and go with the regularity of clockwork. Firstly, what do I mean by useful? Let's examine.

Nobody worries just for fun or entertainment, duh. We worry because we either can't help it (the thoughts and anxieties just circle around, no matter what else we try to think); or, we feel that by being worried we're actually doing something for the problem.

Think about it. How many times you've caught yourself or someone else saying - if I stop worrying, things most definitely won't improve! Then I'm just letting everything go, letting bad things happen, I'm not being prepared. However, being prepared and being worried are not the same thing.

Worrying is mulling over the same or similar thoughts and anxieties in one's head, all the what ifs and worst case scenarios. It might feel like preparing - after all, it's good to know what to do if the proverbial hits the fan - but is worrying really necessary for planning? Isn't it actually hindering planning, by making you feel more scattered and powerless?

Let's face it. All the worrying in the world will not keep you safe. Things can still go sideways. What's the point in worrying, if you've already prepared as well as you can - worrying won't add anything, it just takes away your ability to focus and enjoy. 

I grew up in a family where my parents worried about money constantly. We had it tight and it wasn't always given that there would be money for that month's grocery bill and us kids only got new clothes three times per year: when the school year started, for Christmas and birthdays.

However, a pressing need can trigger two reactions: creativity and anxiety. My mum was always good at making things by hands and if we lacked something, there was a good chance mum would come up with a crafty idea. My poor dad, on the other hand, probably had a blood pressure peaking to the moon and back. But did that help in any way, if there simply was no money?

The most difficult thing about stopping worrying is to allow yourself to do it. It's so ingrained in our behaviour that if we stop feeling anxious, it's as if we don't care. And that simply is not true.

A wise person once said: if you worry about the war every day and it never comes, you have unnecessarily lived through war. And can worrying stop a war? Well...

Same applies to envying. Nobody wants to envy, or admit being envious. And yet, it's one of the most common feelings. It's just so easy to slip into it when we see someone having what we'd like to have - or worse, feel we should have instead of the other.

Envy might feel justified and useful, just like worrying. What right does my neighbour have to have such a nice car? Or my colleague to have such a successful relationship, beautiful kids and new home? What have they ever done to earn those? I've worked as hard if not more, I should be the one who's rewarded!

Life does not come with a fairness guarantee. It's up to us to decide what to do with that fact. Whether to work harder and try to achieve what the target of our envy has, or succumb to bitterness.

Spiritually minded people think that everyone has their own karma and hence we receive what we deserve. In my view, karma is not punitive but educational. We can always learn from every situation in life. I believe that if we practice and learn more selfishness by being bitter and envious, we'll also get more "bad karma" - but bad karma merely means more chances to learn how not to be selfish and bitter.

Envy is closely related to hatred in the sense that both are toxic for ourselves. Being envious or bitter is like drinking poison and expecting the other to die.

However, worries and envy can be useful if they are used as the initial trigger to improve the situation. 

The future worries you? Come up with your best plan to tackle the worries and start taking care of them, one step at a time - and then, simply relax. There's nothing left to do so you might as well take it easy and let the universe handle some of the stuff, too!

Someone else is successful? Great, that just means it can be done by you, too! Success and love are not limited resources which diminish from the world if somebody makes it. It's quite the contrary. The more positive people feel, the more helpful and encouraging they are towards others, too. Working together instead of against each other always produces better results.

Here's a spread to examine these questions in your own life (just focus on worry OR envy, if not both are your issues).

How to get rid of worrying or envying?

1. What causes me to worry?
2. Why?
3. What action to take to stop it?
4. What should I focus on in my life instead?
5. What causes me to envy?
6. Why?
7. What reminds me not to envy?
8. What is something I have that others wish they had?

Be the King of Fire (Wands) of your own life: authentic, confident, worry-free and fun-loving leader. There's no point in envying or worrying. Joie de Vivre tarot, Paulina Cassidy.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Why negative tarot cards are necessary?

As every tarot reader knows, each card has a number of meanings and picking the right meaning for a situation is what is the challenge. If each card only meant one thing, no intuition nor much studying would be needed. Reading tarot would definitely be a whole lot easier, but it wouldn't capture much of the experience called human life.

Life is complex, colourful and fluid and no two people experience it exactly the same way due to their own personality traits, expectations, dreams and fears and the intensity of emotions. For one person, missing a train is a catastrophe, but to another it's a mere inconvenience or even a beginning of a new adventure - how to get from place A to place B now, when the first mode of transport is excluded?

It's safe to say that tarot cards depict themes or concepts, but what's the exact content for each situation, depends on the person receiving the reading.

Tarot enthusiasts also know that a tarot deck contains plenty of cards that make us happy to see them - they are regarded as positive - and a number of cards that are disliked or unwanted, i.e. negative.

However, to be able to observe life and use tarot effectively, this black-and-white dichotomy between positive and negative needs to go. Yes, some situations and emotions feel great, and some feel not so great or downright horrible. But even the negative events and feelings serve a purpose.

Sometimes they are needed for cathartic (liberating) purposes. How refreshing does it feel sometimes to have a good cry, even though nobody wants to hurt so much they have to cry?

We can always learn from the negatives and at the very least, if there were no downsides and disappointments in life, how could we experience positives, either? Everything would eventually become a steady, dull flow of neutrality without much spectrum of colours.

I've been keeping an eye on "negative" tarot cards lately because some of them have been repeating in my readings and I've wanted to understand them from a wider perspective.

Here are some new perspectives on typical "negative" cards:

5 Swords

The card of arguments, discord, underhandedness and dishonesty is hardly anybody's favourite. For me personally this card rarely means fighting, possibly because I hate dragging things out and always try to solve arguments instantly with calm practicality (I don't always succeed in staying calm though...).

I also absolutely despise playing the martyr, because I think everyone is responsible for their own actions and should never blame someone else (look what you made me do, OR I've been doing all this without being asked and you don't even notice - hey, if nobody asked, why did you put so much effort in it without discussing it first?)

For me, 5 Swords most often has the meaning: something is being kept from you OR you don't have all the facts. It can mean that something is being discussed or agreed behind my back, which is not always negative, but possibly inconvenient. For example, at work, an agreement might be made that concerns me, too, but where I'm not being consulted. Or, the person I'm dealing with, is not being 100% honest for their own gain. It might not be lying, but it's withholding information nevertheless.

Today I experienced another meaning of 5 Swords in the realm of "a battle that has no winners", or a lose-lose-situation. I do daily spreads of five cards, first three predicting my day from the morning to night and two remaining cards giving advice on what I can learn and what to pay attention to during the day. For this morning, I got the dreaded 5 Swords and was slightly baffled. What sort of an argument or discord could there be, first thing in the morning?

I woke up to learn that our kitchen was invaded by hundreds of ants.

I immediately started fighting, spraying and wiping them off as fast as I could, but of course the tiny buggers just kept creeping out from every nook, crack and cranny and under our front door. When I went to spray outside too, I learnt that an ant army was marching through the corridors of our apartment building. Cheez!! So, for an hour now, I've been fighting a battle I can't win (they will come back eventually) and the ants keep dying en masse. No party will walk out of this as a winner.

5 Cups

The card of disappointments, loss and not gaining what one wanted. Here's another great example of a not-so-lovely card.

This card pops up when things don't go as planned, something doesn't come to fruition, or something is lost and it's causing emotional suffering. However, with 5 Cups, the essential teaching is: don't focus on what's lost, focus on what you still have left. The card traditionally shows three cups or chalices standing upright and two knocked over, and a person staring at the fallen cups in despair.

I've learned through experience that the essential element of this card is expectations. Buddha thought, among others, that suffering comes from expectations. The more we expect, i.e. take for granted or make assumptions, the more likely it is not everything will come to be. Hence, we are setting ourselves up for a disappointment. 

It has taken me years to understand the difference between planning, anticipation, being ready and expectations. When I first heard that Buddha's advice in my teens, I thought it's the most stupid thing I've ever heard. Possibly because in my native tongue, expectations were (for some incomprehensible reason) translated as "thirst for life". Suffering comes from the thirst for life, and if you cease to yearn to live, you'll be free. Well, that sounded like a pathway to depression to me.

Now I've figured this advice does not prompt anyone to stop planning or stop living. It simply tells: be mindful and ready, but don't get attached to a certain outcome, process or person. Accept the flow of life: it comes with ups and downs. As mentioned before, without downs and darkness we couldn't experience ups and light, either - life would eventually become flat and boring, as we'd grow complacent and blind to our blessings.

With 5 Cups, it's also important to remember that not everything in life can or should be permanent, but it doesn't mean the experience was less worthy or valuable. If you lose a person from your life, it doesn't mean it was worth nothing. You still learned heaps about yourself, the other person, and a range of emotions - and hopefully have some golden memories to cherish forever.

In our society so much weight and admiration is put on a lifelong marriage, that shorter marriages are seen as failures. Why? Not everyone is meant to be in our lives forever - we could never grow, evolve and learn, if everything stayed the same. Sometimes we find the person for life, sometimes that person doesn't even exist, and there are a number of people "lined up" to live and experience with.

"Not everything in life should or can be permanent, but that doesn't mean it's somehow less valuable than permanence."

8 Cups

The card of loss, abandonment, walking away from something, tired and disappointment. This card must be among the least wanted in a reading.

The main teaching of 8 Cups is in my opinion: just because you've put time, effort and emotions into something, doesn't mean it should or could succeed or become permanent. There can be times when it's better to understand that something you used to value does not have the same value or meaning anymore, and that's ok. 

I'm sure everyone knows or has heard about a couple who stays together for the kids, even when there's nothing else to keep them together. It can be a good decision, depending on the personalities, but it can also be a very unwise one, for the growth of everyone involved - the parents and the children. This is very much an 8 Cups situation: something you have built is not worth keeping as it is, after all. Time to move on, to go fill those cups with fresh, different emotions.

The card of leaving and abandonment also has a different side. When we leave, we also start going towards something else. Something new, different and hopefully better, or at least better suited to the person we have evolved to be during the time that was spent by gathering those 8 Cups. So it's not only about walking away, it's about walking towards a new life, even if the new life is not clear or visualised yet.

I've got this card a lot for the past few months and I thought for a long time that it must be prompting me to leave my job, as that has been the only element in my life I'm not fully satisfied with. However, due to the current economic situation where I live, combined with other reasons I don't think now is the best time to jump on something new, I haven't acted on it. During one reading, the meaning finally clicked and it wasn't about leaving, it was about walking towards something new: new people. Cups can depict hearts, i.e. people.

I've felt a bit disconnected with my current social circles due to differing interests and values. I love my family and friends, but I'd be happy to expand my company to those who are more into mindfulness, intuition, creativity and exploring deep questions in life, such as the meaning of this all. Once I figured this and started acting on it, 8 Cups has completely disappeared from my readings, as often happens. Once the message is delivered, the card has no purpose any longer - for now!

My favourite 5 Cups card - Victorian Fairy Tarot. Things that were built did not last, but they form a cherished memory of a great time. And now, something else can be built!