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!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

New series - how to be happier?

It's probably clear based on the theme of my blog - life change, growing as a person, seeking for a better quality of life - that this topic interests me hugely. I'm in a lucky position professionally in the sense that I'm regularly sent to very interesting courses about life quality, mindfulness and work life balance.

I decided to start a series of blog articles covering the most interesting snippets of courses and trainings I've attended lately to help you, too.

Teaching #1 What you pay attention to, grows in your mind and life

This is a no-brainer, yet it's really easy to forget or not to live by it in everyday life.

This advice can be understood from a manifestation-point of view, or just as common sense. Manifesters believe that what you apply your mind to, it will be drawn or attracted to be a part of the energy flow of your life. "Common sense people" believe that it's up to you to decide, what occupies your mind. Positive thoughts bring positive feelings and experiences, and negative thoughts bring negativities.

Now, how to apply this to a work life balance situation?

A deceivingly simple tip I recently received is: always try to spend as much time on things you enjoy and as little time as possible on things you dislike.

At work, try to discard most of the tasks you hate, or organise them in a manner it only takes 10-20% of your day to complete them. Fill in the rest with tasks you like. If this requires restructuring your role, do it as far as you can. Ask for new tasks from your supervisor, ask for extra training, take on extra responsibilities in an area that matters to you, offer to swap tasks with a colleague, do everything you can to make this happen.

It's always easier to get more work than less in a workplace -

because other people are usually happy to give their tasks away. For example, if you enjoy meeting new people, could you swap some tasks and include more interaction in your day? Be more in the frontline instead of the back office? Or vice versa?

When I first heard this tip, I thought "that's absolute bollocks! It can't work! I can't just drop doing the boring chores, everybody knows that!". 

However, after tinkering with this for a few weeks and months, I realised that it indeed was possible to minimise the boringness and add some enthusiasm within my role. I chopped the most boring tasks into pieces and do them max. 2 hours per day. Obviously, it takes more days to finish them now, but on the other hand, I stay more focused and make fewer mistakes when I'm not bored to death with something mind-blowingly dull (my role revolves around accounting- and auditing-type chores).

I've added new tasks by volunteering to be an occupational health and safety representative, which allows me to communicate with people more and pay attention to the work environment and its quality, which relates to the overall life quality theme - my passion. I've also proven that I'm good at research so I've recently got more research-based tasks. Tadah, it was possible to make adjustments with a bit of creativity and willingness to do more, not less.

This has fed into the rest of my life, too. Because I'm not constantly bitter and frustrated due to the dissatisfaction with my work, I'm also more productive, energetic and inspired in life in general. I found energy to start this blog. I've started other extracurricular activities I enjoy. I'm expanding my social circles. These in turn feed positive energy into my work life, because I don't feel so stuck and miserable anymore. What I have focused on, has indeed expanded.

If you can't change your tasks (say, you work as a cleaner or a mailman), are there any aspects in your role you enjoy, even a tiny bit? Can you expand those deliberately? Say, you get to listen to the radio when you work. Could you scan new radio stations every day to discover something new? Or start practising dancing when no one's looking? It could be anything and everything, even silly - the main point is that you enjoy it and it makes you feel lighter and more positive about your day.

The same rule applies to housework, too. Use only 10-15% of your free time on tasks you dislike and focus on what you like per day. Don't like cooking? Find ways to make it faster, easier and more fun. Cook together with your family. Eat takeaway. Eat breakfast for dinner just to mix things up. Cook massive portions of two or three dishes once per week, freeze meal-size portions and alternate between dishes for the rest of the week. Use frozen or semi-ready "just add water"-style meals and ready-mixed salads. Someone criticises you for not being a mature adult or a good parent because you eat readymade lasagne? Laugh it off. You're happier and that's what matters.

How to apply this to relationships? I have a topical example of an extended family situation. A friend of mine has a sister-in-law who's very insecure about her parenting style, apparently due to the constant criticism from the mother-in-law.

My friend is not interested in being involved in any sort of a competition or blame game, but she is being dragged into the cat fight. The latest backlash came, when she made an innocent comment online that happened to include her sister-in-law. The Sis attacked her immediately due to a misunderstanding caused by the insecurity and sensitivity to see everything as criticism.

Instead of retaliating, my friend decided to just step back and let go. She focused on staying calm, detached and happy - not my circus, not my monkeys - whereas the Sis is only focusing on screening the environment for criticism and judgement, so that is what she sees, constantly, everywhere. Which person you'd rather be? I know my answer :)

As a crucial last step, try applying this ingredient into the "what you focus on, will expand"- philosophy...

Do something you love every day
Try something new every week
Learn something new every month
Challenge yourself - do something that scares the **** out of you every year

And here's a tarot spread to help you on the way.

1. What should I focus more in my everyday life?
2. What should I focus less in my everyday life?
3. What could I focus more in the grand scheme of things?
4. What should I focus less in the grand scheme of things?
5. What new skill would be beneficial for me? 
6. What I'm still holding on that doesn't serve me at all?

Happiness is a cup of good, strong coffee and a slice of delicious cake. That's why I go to my favourite café once per week to unwind and treat myself!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Opening of the Key - inspired self-analysis

I got a great tip from another reader to try a large spread called "the opening of the key". It was developed by the Golden Dawn, an esoteric organisation founded in 1888 and which still today is often called one of the cornerstones of the modern Western Mysticism. The original Golden Dawn branched into different fractions due to internal conflicts, but sprouts of this organisation still exist today.

The full spread would take a number of structured steps and understanding Kabbalah and astrology, so I only stuck with the first stage and diverted from there with my own rules. The original spread also uses a significator (a card that is chosen to represent the seeker; the person who is receiving the reading).

I'm not personally hugely interested in the origins or specifics of esoteric tarot teachings and I'm only superficially familiar with tarot's history. My own interests lie in the everyday functionality of any tarot deck. To me tarot cards are art that can be interpreted through knowing the meanings of the symbols and via one's own intuition and deduction skills (what's happening in the picture). My own reading style is a combination of structure and "organic" intuition, i.e. I do rely on the traditional meanings of the cards but I rather "intuit" the message rather than use any rigid reading system.

However, this simplified spread, which is similar to the first stage of the Opening of the Key, proved to be a mind-opening experience.

Many little nagging issues I haven't been able to accurately pinpoint in my own emotional make-up and psyche were solved in this reading. It uses the whole deck of 78 cards and even this simplified version is fairly complicated for a beginner due to the huge number of cards and lack of positions. If you're already reasonably comfortable with understanding your cards, I strongly recommend trying this.

Alternatively, you can try a "beginner's" version, which I explain later, or hopefully find a skilled tarot reader who could do this spread for you. It really can be an ultimate A-HA! trigger.

This is how I did it - I've bent and abandoned almost all of the original rules, but this is what made sense to me:

The Opening of the Key - inspired spread

or, what is really going on in your life

Shuffle the deck and divide it into four equal-sized piles: divide the deck into two halves at first, and then again, into two halves to end up with four piles next to each other. There are rules how to position these piles but I split the first pile into two, put the upper half on the left and the lower half on the right, and then did the same with both halves.

Now you have four piles to show your air, fire, cups and earth aspects - with plain English, meaning your mental life, your current motivation or energy, your emotional life and your material life, encompassing everything tangible such as your body, finances, work/career and possessions.

Turn over the first pile and fan it out to see what's in there. I organised the cards into groups of four at first, in the order they appeared from left to right. Now look at the whole layout and pick the overall tone. What themes came up? What suits you have the most - Swords (air), Wands (fire), Cups (water) or Pentacles (earth)? How about Major Arcana cards? What life lessons or major themes do the Major Arcana cards show within your mental sphere?

Then, read the cards in groups and finally, as a whole. I understood that my deepest happiness (Ace of Cups and the Sun) come from the possibility to be mentally independent, free, creative and resourceful (Ace of Swords, 9 Pentacles, the Empress) and lead the way; i.e. be influential, clear and trusted in intelligence and knowledge (King of Swords).

The Major Arcana and the rest of the cards told me that I'm currently learning a lesson that I can always study and learn more, and think and find my own truth, no matter what's the external situation and I should stop worrying (Hermit, Hanged Man, 6 Swords etc.). The lesson is that I should never be staring at and blaming for the externalities, when the power to be happy is inside me - my happiness comes from the thirst for knowledge, wisdom and communication.

Lastly, count the cards of each suit to see how they are weighing. I got six Major Arcana, six Swords cards, three Pentacles cards and two cards in Cups and Wands each. This tells that my mental life is very much governed by abstract thoughts, rationalism, analysing, thinking in general, instead of my thoughts being guided by emotions, material concerns etc.

Repeat this procedure of interpretation with each pile.

For Wands (drive, motivation, inner fire, vitality) I got cards telling that I'm very much motivated by material and pragmatic things right now (King and Queen of Pentacles, 3 Pentacles etc.). I want to make a tangible difference in the world together with others, not just think and talk. For example, starting this tarot blog and business is a great motivator for me, because the more blog visitors or tarot clients I get, the more it indicates my vision, ideas and inspiration are being sought after and valued.

This pile of cards also brought up something I've thought a lot lately. Like the majority of people in today's capitalistic world, I used to equate financial success with success in general, whereas I've now realised making money does not necessarily equate mental, emotional or social success.

You can feel empty and useless even if you make a lot of money, and reversely, if you don't earn a penny with what you love, it can still give you the strongest sense of purpose, direction and energy. 

Money can, of course, be one indicator of success, but it most definitely is not the only one and possibly not even the best one. Think wars, drugs, exploiting the nature... they are all money-making machines, but what good they bring to the world? Making money out passion is the ultimate dream, but believing that only money is a measure of success and worth, is simply wrong: that's a pathway to misery, emptiness and purposelessness.

For the Cups and Pentacles piles, I found that I'm in a very balanced and happy position in life emotionally and materially - which was clear without the cards, too, but it's always nice to get affirmation!

Interestingly and encouragingly, the largest number of life lesson cards (Major Arcana) came up in the Pentacles pile and they showed an ending and a beginning of a cycle in life (the World, the Fool), as well as a lot of passion, creativity, communication, studying and learning coming up (Queen of Wands, 8 Wands, Page of Pentacles, Page of Swords) and an overall flair of a big, exciting change being on its way. I'm curious to see what will show up in my life!

If you would like to try this method but feel it's too large, try pulling only one (or up to three) cards for each sector of life: mind, inner drive/motivation, emotions and body/money/career. These questions can help:

What is going on within myself?

Air - what is currently in my mind a lot? 
Wands - what motivates me right now, how does my overall energy level look?
Cups - what am I currently feeling, what is topical emotionally for me right now?
Pentacles - how is my physical wellbeing; what is the most topical thing in my money/career situation?

Interpretation in process, the last pile (Pentacles). I divided the cards into groups of four in the order they were spread out from the fan, but later on I grouped them based on suits and Major Arcana to see the "weight" each suit has in this area of life. My motivation is largely driven by material, tangible matters and vice versa; my material/financial matters are largely driven by what motivates me - I want to work on what inspires me. Hardly a surprise there!
A snapshot from my "tarot parlour". A lovely Tarot Tutoring client gave me this beautiful moon phase calendar as a present - I love it!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

How to change someone else's behaviour?

The quality of life very much depends on ourselves: things can't get better if we don't change them or change ourselves. However, what if your life is less than ideal because of someone else? 

We've all heard that the only person I can change is myself. But, what if I'm pretty dang dazzling and the other person/people need to change for the issue to be solved?

Jokes aside, you don't need to be perfect but you might still be a "better" person than your partner, colleague, boss, parent, child, mother-in-law or whoever is causing you grief. And by better I mean more mature, more understanding, and more willing to work on the issue. There's only so much one person can do to change and work on an issue, but if the other party is not doing their bit, the matter won't get solved. So, what to do?

First, a story. I used to have a habit to bite my nails. Out of boredom, frustration, or just while thinking. I was completely unaware how disgusting this habit might be for onlookers.

Exhibit A. I was in a car with a relative and started biting my nails. He reached forward, grabbed a package of chewing gum and offered one to me. I took it and forgot my nails. We drove on, happily chatting, and I was only vaguely aware that the gum was offered to change my behaviour - more importantly, I didn't mind.

Exhibit B. I was on a plane, sitting next to a complete stranger. This person was a much older man, perhaps in his late 50s or early 60s. We were having polite small talk and out of habit, I started biting my nails. This man slapped my hand (softly, of course) and told me sternly: don't do that. I stopped, taken aback. Who are you to tell me what to do? You're not my father, you're a random stranger and you think it's ok to touch me (even if it was partly in jest) and reprimand me like a school kid?

Question: which person managed my behaviour better? I still remember both of these situations, years after, and I think about person A warmly because he's a genuinely nice guy - and I actually stopped biting my nails eventually, once I realised it's a habit worth dropping.

I also remember person B, but only because I'm still infuriated by him. Who the heck he thought he was? Yes, he was older, he probably was in a higher position at work - he was used to having authority, had his own kids and grandkids, but 1) I immediately thought he must be aggressive because he "slapped" a stranger and 2) I secretly thought I'll do what I please, you can't stop me, no matter what's your "ranking" in life.

The lessons I learned were: it's always better to instill an idea than push it with force.

Bossing around or giving orders is bound to trigger resistance, annoyance and rebellion. "Well, watch me do as I please!" is an attitude of toddlers, teenagers and grown adults alike, when ordered to do something they don't like or stop doing something they like or are accustomed of doing. Secondly, it's always possible to give feedback in a respectful, understanding and action-oriented manner: there's no need to be rude.

Lastly, the old truth indeed is true - we'll forget many things in life but not how people make us feel. If someone treats us nicely, we'll remember that warmly. If someone treats us badly, hmm...

I know there are bigger problems in life than nail-biting and I've personally encountered the following: how to change someone who's suicidal, depressed, alcoholic, into drugs and gambling, a world-class procrastinator/the king of lazy; or a selfishly manipulative narcissist (these were not the same person, but a number of people). And... Sometimes you simply can't.

If the other person is beyond cooperation and help, the only reasonable action might be to withdraw, cut your losses and cut contact with the person - or, if possible, try to get professional help. Treating addictions or mental disorders shouldn't be done with tarot alone, you'd need health professionals or a support group involved. If not for the other person (if he or she refuses it), but at least for yourself.

However, where tarot can help is to give you advice on how to react and behave when dealing with a problem person. Tarot can calm you down with insights like: it's not about you, it's about him/her, it's their issue and their life lesson, you can do X, Y, Z to make this dealing easier, just stay calm, collected and in charge of your own actions and feelings. Don't let anyone push your buttons.

If you've heard about, or even better, read the classic book called How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie 1936), you'll know that expectations create actions and behaviour.

The thumb rule of this "Golden Book" - as it's called - is: what you expect from others, will influence how you treat them and this in turn influences how they respond and treat you. If you treat others with respect, kind interest and benevolent trust, and in particular, set positive expectations, 99% of people respond accordingly because they want to prove you're right about them. 

Similarly, low expectations or blaming, nagging and namecalling cause people to under-perform - "well, s/he already thinks I'm a fat, stupid, lazy loser so that's who I am then"-attitude.

I think one of the major culprits in any relationship is sinking into a blame-pit where both parties only see the negatives in each other and keep bringing them up either vocally or in their mind.

This often leads to a "counting points" situation where each party remembers with absolute clarity all the favours and good deeds they've done for the other, but only keep track on all the negative reactions they've received from the other. This type of biased record-keeping is bound to make the relationship feel imbalanced and eventually explode under what the parties think is gross mistreatment.

Another example. I used to have a prickly relationship with one of the managers at work, because I thought she's incompetent and I (subconsciously) kept count on every  mistake she made: I also counted lack of action as a mistake (in particular when she didn't communicate something she should have to the team). I eventually had a pile of "evidence" against her and felt pretty acrimonious when having to deal with her.

One day, I finally realised she must be struggling under her workload - maybe she simply doesn't realise what she could do better. So, I started giving her compliments. When she did communicate something well, I politely thanked her for keeping everyone in the loop. This one email was a game changer. 

She replied she never gets acknowledgement and felt great for getting positive feedback for change! And, miraculously, she's started communicating more. Because she figured it will be positively noticed. I've continued using this method with her and other people at work with success. It does seem to work. Because people indeed want to show they are worth the compliments.

Now, is this manipulation? I don't think so. It's simply acknowledging the positives and being polite and respectful - being a decent human being and receiving the same back.

I live by this rule at home as well and I always thank and compliment my husband for doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc. It might sound like "why should he be complimented for what are his chores?". Well, why not? And now he thanks and compliments me, too, and does his part of the chores on his own without me asking, reminding or nagging. Win-win!

Ok, it's all nice and warm fuzzies and all, but how does tarot relate to this? Try this spread I created:

How to encourage change in another person

1 - 2 - 3
4 - 5 - 6
1 The situation
2 How to bring the issue up?
3 The best realistic outcome if I raise the issue?
4 How will the other person behave?
5 How should I make the other feel? (to see what matters to them)
6 The outcome

An example reading: the issue - how to get someone play less video games

1 Page of Swords - well, the issue is about having mental fun, exploring, playing, feeling excited by a mental challenge, and that clearly is important to this person. So, it needs to be understood and acknowledged - nobody changes their behaviour if they get more out of continuing it than changing or stopping it. Clearly this is an important matter of having fun and stretching one's mental capabilities so now the question should be: is there really a need to change their behaviour?

2 King of Swords - be direct, honest, unemotional, rely on logic: bring up the pros and cons that the playing has on the people around and also the person (lack of exercise etc.). State your point without drama, just lay it out as it is but don't budge from your position, either.

3 Two of Swords - the person will always be of two minds: wants to play, but knows that excess is not beneficial. This seems like an ongoing issue and the person will not be able to decide only one direction (play full-on or not play at all).

4 Seven of Swords - this person will sneak behind everyone's back and most likely play when others are not at home (which is actually fine, so an OK outcome here).

5 Ten of Pentacles - that nothing is threatening the security and stability of their life. The person needs to feel stable, grounded and happy about their life as it is now and having an argument or discussion about gaming will not make this person lose what matters to them (family, home, income etc.).

6 Knight of Swords - the outcome can be a bit of a clash: this Knight is fast, furious and very frank up to the point of being rude. It's best to keep emotions in check when having this discussion (and also after) and stick to the behaviour of the King of Swords: truthful, analytical, structured and solution-oriented.

Hope this is of help!

The Queen of Swords (the Guardian of Air, Gaian Tarot) is a person who can manage her (or his) emotions with logic and rational, calm, structured touch. She won't let anyone push her buttons but is wise enough to see beyond others' actions. That's what's needed in changing someone else's behaviour, too. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Embrace the change

Change is at the same time the most natural and the most difficult thing in life.

Life is in constant flow and cannot stay the same, but then again, change is often scary, hazy and unwanted. If everything's fine now, why change? And if everything is not fine, why the change is not already coming, no matter how much we've hoped and wished for it?

I'm probably from the more change-oriented side than most people, because I'm so curious and always ready for experiencing new things in life. However, lately I've felt for the first time that change can also be scary - so scary that it paralyses and prevents action.

My life is 90% frigging great now, as I have almost everything I could have dreamed of. I'm married to my soul mate, I have a beautiful new home, steady job, enough income, established social circles, activities that make me feel that I'm living my purpose (tarot, volunteering etc.).

Given that everything's so well, I've got 10 Pentacles a lot lately - the card of permanence, structures in life, home and family, wealth, everything being as steady and complete as possible. But, this is also the card of comfort zone and complacency. And with having a lot comes the fear of losing a lot.

I've repeated like a parrot that the only area in my life I'm not entirely happy with is my job. It's a great steady position but it offers zero percent of inspiration or creativity. I understand I'm not the only person who's dissatisfied with a seemingly OK role and I don't want to come across ungrateful because I'm definitely trying to see the positives (even though tarot does remind me of that, too, by offering 4 Cups a lot - the card of complacency, ingratitude, boredom, not seeing the blessings in front of my nose).

Where these two cards tie together is the fear of change. 10 Pentacles is completion and 4 Cups is about not being happy with what one has, but still being unable to break the rut - maybe there's laziness,lack of effort, ideas and direction. But both cards talk about stalling.

Ideally I'd find a job that better suits my personality and still offers the same benefits as my current role, but herein lies the catch: what if any other role doesn't come with as good perks? What if I hop off from the ice bucket to boiling water and regret it, with no possibility to backtrack? So, I am my own worst enemy in achieving this goal.

I do a yearly draw around every New Year to see what's coming up and for this year I got cards Ace of Swords, 8 Wands and 8 Cups. They say:

This year I'll see things clearly and will have an excellent plan to execute. I'll see and speak the truth. The year will be filled with fast-paced action, change and communication. I'll be exchanging messages back and forth and "feeling the wind in my hair", it's so thrilling and fast. But, I'll also grow tired with something: I'll acknowledge things didn't go where I wanted them to go and I'm simply not satisfied enough to keep what I have. I must walk away to seek satisfaction from someplace else.

8 Cups has been stalking me since this draw and I've thought it relates to my job. However, with tarot, cards have a tendency to keep popping up if the message is not delivered or no action is taken. I've been confused why I still get this card, when I've identified my job as the "lack of fulfilment" area and I've tried my best to seek fulfilment, by focusing on all the positives and mainly concentrating on topics that matter, such as this blog and my studies.

I found an excellent spread called EMBRACE THE CHANGE from the Daily Tarot Girl blog and because my life is clearly in transition (8 Cups is about seeking for more or something else), I thought I better embrace it to aid myself. I changed the card positions slightly to be more intuitive:


1 - Action to ease transition (what to do)
2 - Support (person or energy that helps)
3 - What's being left behind
4 - What you will gain from this change
5 - Higher guidance / advice

Embrace the Change - reading

1 - Action to ease transition (what to do) - 5 WANDS
Try to remember not to take life too seriously, it can be light-hearted fun, a competition and a game. Also, if you want to get to a new place in life and in particular, get a new job, it takes effort and competition. It can't be avoided and there's no point in shying away from this moment of frustrations and trying to win, to come out on top.

2 - Support (person or energy that helps) - TEMPERANCE
You have learned by now to combine and balance, mix and compromise in life. Use that skill. Seek for balance in all areas of life.

I've been a very one-sided person before and this ongoing job situation has definitely helped/forced me to seek balance and be patient. I used to have zero patience with long-term projects or issues, I'd give it a quick go and then abandon it in frustration or out of lack of interest. So growth as a person has definitely happened, thanks to the boring job.

3 - What's being left behind - EMPEROR
Emperor talks about leading my life solely relying on the logical, rational, "masculine" side of the brain. I can see based on this card that the change heralded by the 8 Cups is not just about my job or external situation, it's about a major shift in thinking: my world view and values.

A few years ago, I was still very much a science-believer and wouldn't account anything spiritual, paranormal, metaphysical etc. I've always been artistic but saw that as "nice to have" skill instead of something more - because it's so difficult to earn a living as an artist. I had pretty much been indoctrinated by the modern society, politicians and the economists to believe that what has monetary value is what matters, and what has to do with emotions, intuition, kindness, "soft skills", is additional extra but not as important because you can't export it to earn money.

Duh, what an unbalanced way to think and live! One side can't work without the other and I've gone through a crash course to learn to appreciate "feminine" traits and values, such as intuition and creativity.

4 - What you will gain from this change - 8 CUPS.
Here's my stalker again. Interestingly, it came up as a positive (what I'll gain) and I also got this in a position of family and friends in another spread yesterday, so now I finally understand the message.

I've been emotionally unsatisfied with my social circles, because I mainly work and socialise with people who are quite different from me personality-wise. Most are not very interested in deeper questions in life and that's what's lacking. I need a quest to find my tribe, people whose thinking and values resonate better with  me. Not that I'd abandon my current friends, but there's always room for more, isn't there!

5 - Higher guidance / advice - STAR
Star means guidance, positive take, optimism and direction and I generally read it to mean: you're following your higher guidance, you're on the right path. So this card in this position is a double whammy - yes, what you're leaving behind what you're gaining is a beneficial change you need to make to fulfil your destiny; to be the best version of yourself.

Embrace the Change, done with Buckland Romani Tarot.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Why everyone should have a tarot reading?

Yes, I'm a tarot reader and this topic might sound like a marketing blurb, but I actually have a deeper point.

I've mentioned before that I'm a PhD student and I'm currently writing my thesis revolving around the themes of quality of life and quality of urban environment, and the connection between them.

Due to and alongside my studies, I read a lot about experience economy and the importance of meaningful experiences in life. Helping to improve everyone's quality of life is a passion of mine and that's the main reason I started this blog and offering tarot services.

It's been studied and confirmed by a vast number of psychologists, sociologists and other human sciences professionals, that people have an innate need to find purpose in life. We simply can't function properly if we don't see a purpose for our existence and actions. We become depressed, disengaged, directionless... miserable. In the worst case scenario, lose the will to live.

Scientific and academic professionals, as well as business and marketing experts, have figured out something else, too. That people everywhere seek meaningful experiences: moments or a lifestyle that allow us to experience something new and unique, grow as a person, master a skill, feel connected with others in a positive way, be creative, contribute to the society, feel more alive.

These experiences are important, because they help us to find the meaning and purpose in life - it's not just about taking mechanical actions to survive, it's about building relationships, memories and skills - and growing as a person.

Business consultants Steve Diller, Nathan Shedroff and Darrel Rhea have written a book Making Meaning about the work of Cheskin consultancy company: it surveys 100,000 people around the globe per year to map, what people want out of life. They've compiled a list of the most often mentioned experiences that come up in these surveys - what people everywhere seem to value and yearn.

The most often mentioned meaningful experiences are
  1. Accomplishment - Achieving goals and making something of oneself; a sense of satisfaction that can result from productivity, focus, talent, or status.
  2. Beauty - The appreciation of qualities that give pleasure to the senses or spirit.
  3. Community - A sense of unity with others around us and a general connection with other human beings.
  4. Creation - The sense of having produced something new and original.
  5. Duty - The willing application of oneself to a responsibility.
  6. Enlightenment - Clear understanding through logic or inspiration.
  7. Freedom - The sense of living without unwanted constraints.
  8. Harmony - The balanced and pleasing relationship of parts to a whole, whether in nature, society, or an individual.
  9. Justice - The assurance of equitable and unbiased treatment.
  10. Oneness - A sense of unity with everything around us.
  11. Redemption - Atonement or deliverance from past failure or decline.
  12. Security - The freedom from worry about loss.
  13. Truth - A commitment to honesty and integrity.
  14. Validation - The recognition of oneself as a valued individual worthy of respect.
  15. Wonder - Awe in the presence of a creation beyond one's understanding.
A tarot reading at its best can offer a pathway to a number of these and hence, be a very powerful, mind-shifting and influential experience. 

The main purpose of tarot is to offer enlightenment: an avenue to understand something - one's own or someone else's thoughts, emotions and feelings, or the situation or life in general - with new clarity. It can also help one experience truth, justice, duty and security (what's really going on and why, what are the "karmic lessons", how this all fits to the grand scheme of things, what's the likely direction and how to put in the best effort to achieve a goal).

Tarot is an excellent tool for redemption - understanding that the past failures have served a purpose and there's always light at the end of the tunnel.

Beauty and harmony can be experienced by looking at the beautiful and interesting pictures and having the sense that life in itself is a beautiful experience full of new beginnings and new chances. Most thoughtful tarot readers offer a calm, harmonious settings for receiving the reading - a bit like a mind spa - or tailor a beautiful email package of the reading as a keepsake. 

Accomplishment and freedom can be felt, when the cards prompt us to take action to achieve goals, and remind that we are free to change our lives, when we first acknowledge what's the blockage - fear of failure, something else? Creativity is also supported by a tarot reading, because the purpose is to give the sitter free hands to mould his or her life to the wanted direction by giving the most useful tips about what's working and what's not. 

In my view, possibly the most impacting emotions can come from experiencing validation - what you're going through is real, the reader can see it and empathise with you, and the reader is focusing solely on you. No distractions, no checking the phone, but your life being discussed and described in depth and with empathy.

Oneness and wonder can be experienced either from a spiritual point of view (the cards are seen as giving higher guidance); or simply from the fact that there is a connection between the reader, the cards and the sitter and it's an awe-inspiring experience to see a flow of pictures describe your life to a T and offer insightful advice. 

Belonging to a community is one of the core needs of every human being and it is experienced during and as a consequence of the reading by first connecting with the reader and later on, by applying the tarot messages to your life to improve how you connect with others - with a partner, family members, friends, colleagues or people in general.

When people come to receive a tarot reading in person, they practically always forget the flow of time, which is a tell-tale sign of deep impact and focus. People simply don't remember to check the time or don't realise an hour has passed already, because they are so intrigued to hear what the cards mean.

A tarot reading is not only informative or clarifying, it can be an all-encompassing and unique experience that fulfils a number of everyone's deep needs and often is a memorable event people remember for years - if not their whole life.

EDIT; Doing a reading for oneself can and does offer these same feelings and experiences. If you can understand the cards, there's of course no necessity to seek a reading from another person - even though that can be extremely helpful when feeling blocked or confused with the situation and/or the cards!

Death - or a rising Phoenix. When one life phase ends, another begins; tarot can help with the transition and transformation. From the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Cheat sheet - how to interpret Major Arcana cards?

As many budding tarotists know, the standard tarot deck comes with sections called Major Arcana - the "big secret" and the Minor Arcana "the small secret". The meanings of Minor Arcana cards are discussed in Cheat Sheet 1 and Cheat Sheet 2, and today we'll focus on the Big Secret.

Major Arcana cards depict life events and lessons as a journey from birth to enlightenment. These do not happen only once in life with Major Arcana, so the cards do not point to your physical years. Instead, they talk about what you are experiencing in your current life cycle or phase.

Also, even though the cards are numbered from 0 (the step before first step) to 21 (completion), in practice the cards don't come up in a number order. Sometimes we learn lessons faster, sometimes slower, and life lessons don't have a premeditated order they come up. We keep learning same or similar things over and over again and hence, the Major Arcana cards can and do serve throughout life - no card becomes "obsolete".

However, it's also possible to get stuck in a certain thinking pattern and that's when the same cards keep repeating until the issue is solved or released. And conversely, it's possible that some cards show themselves very rarely, if you are not experiencing that particular energy (emotions, situations etc.) the card portrays.

Enlightenment can be understood as spiritual, or just "gaining full understanding" about life.

Each card means a major life lesson that has potential to help you grow as a person - to progress in your own evolution. Major Arcana cards often point to outside forces. How we behave when pressured, hindered, blocked or prompted by outside forces, is what helps (or forces) us to grow: it's polishing a diamond out of a chunk of coal.

When you do or receive a reading, pay attention to how many Major Arcana cards come up. They point to the big lessons and major forces in play, and give you a hint about what you need to take into account long-term, or what will have the greatest impact on your life during this period of life.

My nutshell guide for the meanings of the 22 Major Arcana cards

0 Fool - beginning. I read this as a step before step, the first inclination that something new is beginning. It's still mostly in one's mind, not reality yet, but it's the feeling or urge to start anew or go to a new direction in life, even if it feels scary and unclear. It's the wish to do what you want.

1 Magician - from intention to action. Magician brings the idea into reality; this is a card of successful manifestation. Nothing can be achieved without thinking about it first and the Magician comes up when you have the power to succeed in your undertaking, if you set your mind to it.

2 High Priestess - trust your intuition. This card reminds that this physical reality of ours can only be navigated with the help of intuition; the gut feeling about what is right and wrong for you. Rational mind, will and intention are not enough, we also need to listen to the inner self, our soul.

3 Empress - creation and life force, blessings. The Empress is often read as the feminine ideal; but to me she portrays the divine in the universe, the life force (chi), growth, creativity, nature, and feeling blessed and protected. To me this card most often means: enjoy life and it's blessings, including love, creativity, nature and everything that brings you joy.

4 Emperor - structure, permanence and rational logic. If the Empress is about the organic positive forces in life, the Emperor is about structure, logic, stability and authority. It can mean your rational mind being in charge instead of intuition, or it can mean the need to take better control of one's life.

5 Hierophant - sharing structured traditions and teachings. All human societies are built on shared traditions, rules and teachings, such as the law, religion, customs, traditional celebrations - the expectations about how to behave and what to believe. Hierophant can mean living by the rules or according to the traditions, or the need or want to study and/or teach.

6 Lovers - commitment, choosing what feels right in the heart. This card is about soul mates and romantic love, but not only about it. It's about any choice you need to make; the prompt is to choose what feels right in your mind, body, heart and soul. The choice is right when all of the elements align and make you feel good, 'this is the right way'.

7 Chariot - success with opposing forces. This card is most often read as the triumph of willpower, but to me the core meaning is: being able to handle a difficult situation where opposing forces are not letting you to do what you want. It can mean applying force (mental, emotional or physical), or it can mean acknowledging that force alone is not working, another approach is needed.

8 Strength - stay zen, keep calm. This card often shows a young maiden petting a lion. The message is that you can control your own or someone else's animal instincts, fears and urges with staying calm and collected. Frustration, panicking and succumbing to fears won't help, so keep your cool.

9 Hermit - search for your own truth, alone. The hermit is someone who dedicates his or her life to examining, observing and pondering life or a certain question in solitude. It doesn't mean "move to a cave for the rest of your life", but it does mean that the situation at hand is best handled by searching for your own truth through philosophy, thinking, taking time for yourself, reading, whatever works for you to build your knowledge base.

10 Wheel of Fortune - the "full" number 10 is a circle closed and also a change. The wheel of fortune, the destiny or fate, is ever-changing and nothing will stay the same forever. There can be a turn to better (or occasionally worse) coming - and eventually, that too will change. Whatever is going on now, is a major life lesson you can learn from, even if it feels you're not in charge.

11 Justice - karma and deliberated decisions. Justice comes up when there is a need to make a decision about something that (knowingly or unknowingly) has great importance for your life in the future. It can also mean that a decision concerning you is being made (such as a decision on a job or study application, or a legal decision) and it will have major impact on your life's course one way or another.

12 Hanged Man - let go of the need for action and find a new perspective. I always think of this card as a painful or difficult yoga pose you must stay in to become more flexible, balanced, and better at it. This suspended, inactive period in life feels uncomfortable or unwanted, but it's needed to learn something - see things from a new angle.

13 Death - ending and transformation. When a caterpillar has been hanging in its uncomfortable cocoon for long enough, it breaks free and emerges as something different and new: as a butterfly able to fly, reach new levels in life. The ending can be painful and scary, but it's also always a beginning of something different; the emerging of a new you, ready for a different phase in life.

14 Temperance - creating a compromise with patience. This card pops up when you are trying to balance or combine competing elements - such as work life balance, or people in a new relationship. Mixing or connecting them takes time, effort, skills and patience. Sometimes the mix works eventually, sometimes it doesn't, but a decision about wanting to compromise needs to be made before it can happen.

15 Devil - unhealthy attachments and desires. Something is dictating how you think, feel or live. It can be an obsession or addiction (anything from food to sex to alcohol to work) or letting a negative feeling, such as fear, grudge, jealousy or selfishness drive your life. Some people think this card means a bond between people and can mean marriage, but for me this card is about negative bonds.

16 Tower - collapse of beliefs or structures in life. Tower comes up, when a sudden shock is on its way or ongoing. It can be something major like separation, or something smaller like having your beliefs or expectations blown up by something/someone. The suddenness of the Tower often makes the event itself feel negative, but the outcome is that the truth is revealed, whatever it is.

17 Star - hope, healing and guidance. After the shock and crumble comes healing and finding a new direction with hope and optimism. The Star is about learning to trust life again, and finding solace, hope and guidance from within or from people around you.

18 Moon - confusion, letting instincts rule over head and heart. Moon can mean intuition and paying attention to the "otherworldy", metaphysical and spiritual, but because High Priestess already means that, to me the Moon means "oi, you're looking to the wrong direction or seeing everything in an unnecessary bad light". Step out to the clarity of the sun and leave the confusion and stirred-up emotions behind.

19 Sun - happiness, clarity, joy of life. This card in my opinion feels like "there's no worry in the world". It's like being a child again in a sunny summer day, simply enjoying existence. No agendas, no hidden influences, everything just is as you see it and it's beautiful and enjoyable.

20 Judgement - leaving the past behind for a new stage in life. Judgement is about taking stock in life, either consciously or subconsciously. You're ready to move on to something new and different, this life phase or situation is over. It's time to look back, decide what lessons and memories you want to keep, and then close the gate and move on.

21 World - completion, success, life lesson learned. The World comes up when something's successfully completed: studies, a difficult project, a life phase or stage in general, or just a period in life where you learnt something to become a better version of yourself. This chapter is closed now, it was educational and enlightening, now it's time to enjoy the elated feeling of success - and then move on to the Fool again!

Major Arcana (Rider Waite Smith deck) card pictures can be found in Wikipedia. The numbers 0 and 21, Fool and the World, are on the top row, then from number 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 15 and 16 to 20 from top left corner to bottom right corner. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Druid Oracle deck review

My blog doesn't contain many deck reviews because I think there are plenty of them available online already. However, I've recently purchased my first Oracles deck - the Druid Animal and Plant Oracle - app; and given that I've used it a lot lately, I thought I should introduce it to the readers.

This deck is written by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and illustrated by Bill Worthington with beautifully intricate watercolour images. The Animal Oracle deck was originally published in the 1990s and the Plant Oracle in 2008, but the app combines them into one electronic deck. 

In general, I'm not the biggest fan of oracle cards because I see them (possibly wrongfully) as "easy listening" versions of tarot, no offence meant to any oracle readers! However, I do think that pretty much anything that evokes thoughts, feelings and intuitive hunches can be used to do succesful readings and I've tried scrying (reading on water surface or clouds) as well as random image generators online.

Nevertheless, I like using tarot the most because I understand its vocabulary - the meanings each card has. The tarot decks I most often use (Rider Waite Smith, Mystic Dreamer Tarot, the Witches Tarot and the Victorian Fairy Tarot) are all based on images of people, giving enough cues about the emotional, mental and physical state each card points to.

The Druid Oracle deck contains drawings of animals and plants that were relevant to the ancient Celtic Druids, and this is at the same time the core of its appeal and the biggest culprit, at least for me.

The cards are interpreted based on what the animals and plants meant to the Celts and the app deck comes with handy interpretation blurbs. There are separate interpretations for both upright and reversed cards, and the reverse card function can be turned off altogether, if upside-down cards make things too complicated.

There are 33 animal cards and 36 plant cards in the deck and almost all of them are familiar fauna and flora to me - these are all common in the British islands and given that I grew up in Scandinavia, we pretty much had the same plants and animals around.

However, the familiarity doesn't help much in interpreting the pictures because I don't have any connection to Celts nor their traditions and knowledge about the use of plants. So, my interpretations currently rely on the accompanying info, which makes interpreting a bit repetitive; the texts are fairly similar across the board and most often relate to a spiritual meaning (e.g. the tradition of the Goddess, as well as the story of King Arthur).

The texts are comprehensive and knowledgeable and I feel I learn something new every time I read the full text, including the meaning of the card, legends or folklore associated with the plant or the animal, and the usage of the plant.

This deck is very uplifting due to the down-to-earth, warm nature of the ready-made texts - which are mostly along the lines "connect with your inner self and do what you feel is right" - but I don't find it easy to do longer readings than just a daily card. For checking the day's theme, "energy" or lesson this deck is interesting and accurate, but it seems to be best suited for one, max. three card draws.

I've had this app for a couple of months now and I've noticed that I've learned some of the animals and plants quite well, meaning that with some readings I can rely on my own interpretation and intuition only. However, with most of the cards I still refer back to the text and this takes some of the magic away - not being able to understand the meaning in an intuitive flash does not give the same jolt of energy and enlightenment tarot can give.

This deck is intriguing and handy for anyone who's interested in the Celtic traditions, because each card also comes with a history summary about the use of the plant (or the symbolical meaning of the animal), as well as an accompanying tale or legend. But for intuitive readings, I still think that cards with people or otherwise expressive symbols work the best for me for gleaning the most informative reading.

I absolutely love the decorative, detailed borders of the cards: the decorative leaves and berries remind me of my childhood (I used to have school books with similar decorations and I loved my school years) and hence, create a sense of cosy familiarity with the flora and fauna depicted. Not necessarily the most useful prediction deck, but a beautiful treasure to learn about Celts or moder Druidry, for sure.
Borage, Druid Oracle deck.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

When career change seems impossible

I'm a huge believer in plan C. Let me explain. Usually people have plan A for action and if that fails, there's plan B. But if both fail, many give up and just stay put, miserable, blaming bad luck.

For me plan C is not just another plan, but it's a cunning mid-way scheme to tackle the problem or roadblock with creativity and change of perspective. Depending on how you think of it, it can be a compromise, or finding a proverbial or symbolical back door, window, chimney or a tiny crack behind a cupboard to squeeze through towards the direction you want to go.

Most importantly, plan C is about really exploring and recognising what is your true desire. Because your dream or plan A & B might not be the gateway to what you really want. This is what I mean:

My today's Druid Oracle card was Woad reversed. It's a tall plant with small yellow flowers and it was used for dying fabric in the olden days of Celtic Druids - in particular the war cloths of the Celtic warriors. The upright meaning of the card is freedom and warriorship (fighting for your freedom and passions, going after your goals), but the reversed meaning is as follows: instead of seeking freedom from something, why not seek freedom for something?

The very things you think are limiting you, might actually be working for your benefit, if you find goals that make your heart sing and rearrange your life to allow you to pursue these goals within what is currently available to you.

An example: I relocated to Australia years ago from Northern Europe because I was completely done with the gloomy climate and the equally gloomy economic situation. I often receive questions from friends and strangers alike, asking how they could get to Australia, because it's their dream, too. When they realise relocation takes a lot of time, money, tenacity and skills and perseverance to tackle bureaucracy, all of them have given up - at first.

However, some explore what's their desire a bit further. For some, it's new experiences and better job opportunities. To others, it's life in the sun, close to the sea. One friend of mine has moved to London for job purposes and is doing fine, and another moved to a Mediterranean island, and is doing equally fine. Both changes were relatively easy and inexpensive to undertake within the European Union (no visa hassle), once they realised what was the real desire. It wasn't Australia. It was something that could be obtained elsewhere, with better chances.

Another example: I work in an office in an area that is not particularly inspiring - truth to be told, it's the opposite of inspiring. I've felt for years I could achieve much more if I just found a better suited role, a more creative one. I've sent countless applications, rewritten my resume a number of times, tried networking, tried pretty much everything any business success guide recommends, with no luck.

Partly, if not mostly, my success was hindered by - - - myself. I'm too comfortable with my current salary and very flexible hours, and have not wanted to sacrifice those by trading off to something more rigid and stressful.

After years of job hunt, I've understood there is no job on earth that would fulfil all my needs: no job - other than working for myself - can offer freedom to do whatever interests me at a time that suits me, and remain intriguing and inspiring day after day.

It took a lot of soul searching and tarot readings and a complete change of perspective to see that my current job is a necessary sacrifice to achieve the lifestyle I want: a comfortable financial position, flexibility, a chance to do my PhD without financial worries, a chance to run my own creative projects like this blog, a chance to set up a rewarding side business without stressing my head off about the initial lack of income.

The moral of the story is: what is it you truly desire? 

You might think you need a new job. But would it actually make you happier?

Yes, you might get rid of some nasty people you don't need around, or release yourself from mind-numbing tasks. But the fact remains that many (if not most) of today's jobs just are by nature boring, repetitive and also come with annoying colleagues. There is no heaven or panacea at the job markets, I suspect. So, ask yourself: what is it that would make you happy? A chance to be more autonomous? Have clearer purpose? Have more time for yourself or your family? A chance to self-develop? Experience something new? Rid yourself of a particular person?

The next step is to devise plan C to achieve what you desire. If you're unhappy with your job and can't get another one, is it possible to rearrange or reallocate some tasks? Transfer to another department, office or city? Go on a training course or take study leave and eventually leverage yourself to a new role? Momentarily rely on your partner's income and/or your savings while you take leave without pay or stress leave to go on full time job hunt?

Or, could you move to a cheaper location to manage with smaller income, if you need to take a pay cut with a new, lower-level or part-time job? Can you take leave without pay, rent your pad and go on a couple of months' holiday in a cheaper country to regain your energy and find inspiration? Move back home to share the living costs with your folks? Or find elements to be grateful for and make them work for your benefit in your current situation? A 180 degree turn in your attitude to see only the benefits and none of the negatives?

A problem I personally have is the tendency to take on too much: obligations, tasks and projects in and out of work. The tarot card 10 Wands picks this perfectly by usually depicting a person carrying a heavy bundle of branches. At some stage picking each one of them felt doable and maybe even a good idea, but too much is too much.

Getting this card in a reading is a clear reminder that now it's time to declutter everything that is not absolutely necessary. Any work task that can be reallocated, should be. Any duty or household chore that could be done by someone else, should be. Any personal project that's mainly a drag now, should be left alone for a while, if not dropped altogether.

One avenue people often overlook is the support of friends. If you hope to change jobs, do you already know people from that field? If not, how could you find them? Talking with people who work in your desired field can also reveal is that what you truly want - does it match your expectations? Are there any associations, networking circles or just friends of friends you could connect with?

My experience is that nearly everyone is happy to meet for coffee to give advice, if that's the only thing you ask. Asking someone else to find a job is a bit too much, but asking tips, information about skills requirements and networking chances is another matter altogether. and the majority of people are more than happy to help, because most of us enjoy seeing someone progress and reach their dreams.

Based on my own experience and people around me, the biggest obstacle between you and a change for better is the blockage caused by stress, which in turn causes lack of perspective, lack of fresh new ideas and lack of energy to execute any plan, no matter if it's A or C. Hence, the most essential task to start with is to release stress, on an ongoing basis.

I strongly recommend doing sports you enjoy (anything from swimming or gentle walks in the park to combat sports or full-on cardio) and/or spending time in nature - either in your back yard, garden or a nearby park, or in the wilderness. Regularly. Preferably multiple times per week.

If you think this is waste of time or an additional luxury you can't do... think again. It's the first brick of your golden road to success and your road can't be built, if you, the builder, are too exhausted to lift a finger or form a proper sentence! I've seen this work with plenty of people, including myself. I would still be in my personal pit of misery had I not relied on sports and nature - in addition to tarot - to gain extra energy to actually see the positives of my current situation.

It's been scientifically proven that natural settings and any form of exercise reduce stress immensely and are the natural release systems to rid your body of stress hormones, the "fight or flight" chemicals we all incur every day. Half an hour per day in nature can make all the difference, because it allows your body to relax and your mind wander freely, to explore and find potential answers.

If you combine the "nature or sports treatments" with exploring your feelings and mindset with tarot, I can almost guarantee your life's direction and chances will start looking much, much better!

Some useful questions to ask from your cards could be for example:

How to be more satisfied with life?
  1. What I think would make me happy but in reality, wouldn't?
  2. What really makes me happy?
  3. How to obtain happiness within my current situation?
  4. What to change to have more happiness?
  5. What to accept (can't change right now)?
  6. What should be my short term goal in finding happiness?
  7. What should be my long term goal in finding happiness?
  8. What is the most urgent thing to do for better well-being?
Woad, Druid Oracles.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

On a short break - no readings between 4-7 March

Hello all, just a quick note that I'm not available to do readings between 4-7 March due to a little holiday. I'm back from 8 March onward of Perth time, have a great weekend!

My favourite hang out spot for coffee, holiday or everyday!

Is tarot simply wishful thinking?

Is tarot only wishful thinking or a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is it all made up?

Well, this depends on how you think of the questions.

Wishful thinking implies that we see what we want to see on the cards. Or, we conveniently forget what we saw when time passes, and start to believe that the unfolding positive events were predicted by the cards: "surely that one happy card showed that I would meet you, the love of my life!".

It is certainly a possibility that this happens from time to time. However, forgetfulness is easily cured by recording the readings: take notes or take a photo, and refer back to it. That is an easy way to keep track whether or not the things that happened came up in a reading or not.

Tarot also has a strange but remarkable tendency to show repeat cards when a deeply meaningful event is about to occur or a deep emotion is felt. Why do they pop up? Scientifically, there is no explanation. For people who believe in meaningful coincidences - synchronities - it makes a lot of sense. Something in our energy or vibrational field must be drawing those specific symbols.

Wishful thinking doesn't explain why tarot appears so consistent. If we stubbornly see something good in any cards and it doesn't actually happen, wishful thinking would soon fade away and lead to losing faith. What would be the point in believing in any messages if more often than not the positive events won't manifest?

Curiously, positive events shown in the cards seem to take place in a surprising accuracy - but so do the negatives. And this poses a question - can seeing negative outcomes be a form of wishful thinking? Why would anyone wish for negative outcomes?

How about self-fulfilling prophecies?

Is it likely that if we see something positive in the cards, say, getting a dream job, we are bound to put in more effort in the application because the positive outcome seems within our grasp? And consequently, through our own effort, actually win the job? Or reversely, if the cards show "nope, you won't get it", will we drop the ball too early and not put enough effort in trying, thus bringing the negative outcome upon us with our own pretty little hands?

This, again, certainly is a possibility and one reason why a good reader always seeks for an action-oriented reading instead of a destiny-based "this will happen, no matter what".

I believe that we can always change something for better in any situation. If nothing else, at least our own viewpoint and attitude. Hence, asking for most beneficial actions to take is not only empowering, it can actually lead to a better outcome instead of fretting about the inevitable future.

Is tarot a self-fulfilling prophecy is at the same time a very valid and very silly question to ask.

Life is fluid, our circumstances are fluid, other people affect our decisions and lives all the time and we influence theirs. Every thought, action and decision will have an impact on our future. Tarot is a mirror for emotions and thoughts so asking if tarot is a self-fulfilling prophecy is the same as asking: is my plan to lose weight a self-fulling positive prediction if I have strongly decided to stick with it - or, reversely, is it negative, if I doubt myself from the beginning?

I'm personally not worried about this self-fulfilling stuff, because I think that whatever helps us to become better people and make better informed, clearer, conscious choices and decisions, is a good thing.

So if tarot cards show a happy ending for an undertaking, and that encourages us to achieve it with more self-confidence, it's nothing but great. And if negative cards encourage us to take precautions, check and tweak our plans, actions and thoughts, again, that's great! That's what tarot is supposed to be used for in my opinion. Is it then self-fulfilling or self-development?

However, I do understand the risk that a negative outcome will manifest due to the lack of action or being paralysed by fear if negative cards pop up and cause this.

If, for example, I believe that my partner will cheat on me and it's inevitable (if I believe  my cards showed it), I'm bound to become more cynical, pessimistic, withdrawing and possibly nagging and hysteric than I would normally be - and that type of a relationship simply is not very fulfilling, loving, supportive or warm to either one of us. If my partner then makes a mistake to cheat, was there any element of self-fulfilling prophecy to blame? Probably. This highlights the necessity to ask action-oriented questions: what can I do to achieve this goal, or what can I do to solve this problem?

Steering back to wishful thinking. Do we retrospectively impose meanings on the cards that turn out to be true: say, a month ago you got 2 Cups, a card of mutual, affectionate feelings: today you meet someone very promising for a romance. The card knew it! Now, how do we verify that the card that appeared month ago really meant this day, and wasn't just a random coincidence out of 78 possible cards in the deck?

That's the thing: I don't think there is a way to prove it. If there was, science would have already proven how tarot works, if it works (as a system current natural sciences can understand).

But then again, human mind is incredibly agile and prone to seek and understand symbols.

If you think of it, we actually are very mental, emotional and symbolic creatures living a life in an "animal" body, i.e. navigating the tug-o-war of mind and body, bombarded by the physical, biological and instinctive feelings and responses.

But we are mainly driven by symbols: language, writing and pictures are symbols. Plenty of our thoughts and dreams are symbols. Many of our actions are symbols (playing any game, for example, is a symbolic act: it's not meant for any life sustaining purposes such as finding food).

Furthermore, humans have always sought for and tried to interpret signs: the weather patterns, the behaviour of animals, synchronities (meaningful, as if "destined to happen"coincidences), signs from the deities...

My point is that we interpret the world based on symbols all the time. We seek to understand what other people think and what they mean by communicating via symbols. Being a human is somewhat impossible without symbols. Tarot as a symbol system adds to that experience of finding meaning; and it offers something for the mind to focus on for guidance. Is it wishful? Is it self-fulfilling? I think it is, but only as much as any other thought or action we do in life anyway.

Life is a ride, let's enjoy it as much as we can! Photo by Anu Saskia.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Find your life's purpose with tarot

I am currently reading Dr. Michael Newton’s book “The Destiny of Souls” (2000) and find it highly interesting. I’ve mentioned before that I’m on the fence about the topics of life after death or a spiritual level existing parallel behind/with the material realm (due to the current lack of scientific back up), but it doesn’t mean I can’t explore this area and it couldn’t make sense to me. 

The concept Dr. Newton discusses is as follows:

Dr. Newton is a hypnotherapist, who started his career as a “normal” counselor. He accidentally bumped in to past life regression in the 1960’s by guiding a client into a life before this current life during a hypnosis session that was supposed to track the root cause of an issue the client was suffering from. The root cause was discovered, but not from the client’s childhood, from a past life.

Because the ability or tendency to “travel back to a previous life/lives” and also "life between lives" seems to be something many (if not all) people can do under hypnosis and the stories relayed are structured, meaningful and consistent (instead of meaningless or imaginative blabbering), Dr. Newton has spent decades in unlocking the mysteries of the soul.

To his clients and himself, we are not mere mortal, bio-electro-chemical flesh computers, but spirits (or unknown intellectual life forms) being born time after time into the material world temporarily, before returning back to the timeless mental dimension or the “spirit world”. 

According to Dr. Newton’s clients, the material world, including Earth, are an “exercise ground” to the mental beings who incarnate to learn lessons, practice mental capabilities, enjoy and suffer existence in the material realm and ingrain experiences and emotions into the spirit/soul to grow and evolve.

In essence, it has a lot to do with “willpower’s or mind’s triumph over matter”, which is the essence of growth for this soul being (i.e. the real us). It’s not so much about limiting oneself, but more about overcoming instinctive responses such as fear, anger, lust, greed or resent to live life to the fullest and push oneself to become something more and better than we were before: it’s all about integrity, intention and follow-through.

Dr. Newton has studied thousands of cases and does so in a diligent manner of someone who maps an uncharted territory with care, open mind and gathering samples (interviews under hypnosis) that seem to all support this theory.

As an interesting parallel, another Newton is famous for his scientific discoveries, but he was also shunned by the scientific circles due to his interest in occult: Isaac Newton (1642-1726) discovered gravity and developed the quantitative research method to gather evidence and observe it to deduce the facts, but his ties with the scientific community were cut due to his interest in alchemy.

According to Dr. Michael Newton, the most common question people ask when booking a regression hypnosis session is to discover their true purpose in life

I can’t possibly verify whether Dr. Newton is correct with his model about the real purpose of human life (to teach the soul to grow), but due to my own PhD studies in the area of quality of life I am certain about one thing: we are physical, emotional, mental and social beings, but also aesthetic (seek pleasure from beauty and experience the world through senses and emotions) and spiritual beings, no matter what’s causing this.  

Also, we all seem to have an innate need for purpose. The less purpose we see in our life and its trials and tribulations, the more likely it is we’ll become cynical and eventually depressed. Clearly living without purpose does not gel well with the human mind.

So, what can tarot do to help us find purpose? A lot!

Here’s a spread to discover what your purpose in life is. I personally think we can have a number of different purposes and possibly once one purpose is fulfilled, we can move to another, or run with different purposes simultaneously. But in case you’d like to identify one core theme for your life, this spread can help. This spread is an adaptation from the Where to find joy – spread, discussed in this blog post and created by Paulina Cassidy for Joie de Vivre tarot deck.

My purpose in life – spread.

This reading is done with Fool’s Dog app and it mixes different decks for added visual cues.

1. What is my purpose? ACE OF PENTACLES, Bonefire deck

The beginning of anything material, the seed, the opportunity, good luck. My purpose is to experience the material world in general: the joys and donwsides. But it’s also to find and unlock opportunities, and provide these to others where I can. This is very much how I live my life so I’ve clearly “accidentally” bumped into my purpose! My card shows a big golden pentacle surrounded by vegetation of different seasons, giving the card a bit Wheel of Fortune-like appearance, reminding of life’s ups and downs but also good luck, destiny, taking the opportunity when it comes, as well as enjoying nature in all its glory. The pentacle has a keyhole and a diamond on it, highlighting the “unlock the opportunity” message.

2. Where to find purpose? 9 SWORDS, Joie de Vivre deck 

This card shows a cat climbing up a tree, but it has stopped its progress towards the reward (smiling hearts) at the top of the tree because there are piranha-like creatures flying around and nagging at it. 9 Swords block the way down, so the cat just sits there, paralysed by fear. This card is an excellent reminder of how to deal with other people: don’t let others’ opinions stop you from living your purpose. There’s no point in worrying what others will say, what the society will think, what the neighbour will think: it’s your life, no one else’s! Go after the goal, the smiling hearts, the fulfilled feeling of happiness. For my purpose, this can also mean that I should encourage others to care less about what random people or relatives think and go after what resonates and feels right in life.

3. Where to work to find purpose? (this doesn’t necessarily or only mean your career, but an area in life or a mindset to adopt to find purpose) HANGED MAN, Gaian Tarot. 

This card shows a yogi-like female hanging from a tree, looking relaxed and calm. She has a faint smile on her face and her clothes reflect the blue skies (or you can see through her body to another dimension, possibly). Staying put, learning from being quiet and inactive, and letting the revelation come at its own pace are what are needed. There is inner brewing going on and this period of suspension is for my own good in the long run. Indeed, I’d like a lot of things happen now, such as many of my ideas take off, but I clearly need to wait, ponder and let them mature on their own still. The universe and all its answers are within me, if I know how to look.  

4. What are you allowing to block your purpose? HERMIT, Gaian tarot. 

This card shows a monk-like hooded figure sitting under a tree with a note book and a pen. He’s observing the nature around him: the owl and some spirit animals in the background. I take this to mean that my tendency to spend a lot of time alone, thinking, studying and writing, is hindering my purpose if taken to extreme. I can’t find and unlock opportunities for myself or others by sitting at home in front of a computer. I also can’t experience the material world and the wonders of nature if I’m merely observing, not participating – living in my head, not in my body. Point taken.

5. Purpose mentor - who or what can help me find purpose? 4 PENTACLES, Victorian Fairy deck.

This card shows an elderly fay holding on tight on acorns, when a squirrel is after the same ones. This card is a reminder to not be too attached to material and not too protective and risk-averse in life. Let go of what you have to experience something new. However, it can also mean that it's good to be protective and keep things as they are: there's no need to go after something more materially. Given that I'm already quite unattached to materia, I think this could mean not to worry about money when seeking my purpose, but also that I already have everything I need in the material and physical sense to explore and experience my purpose. 

6. Universe’s gift – what helps you to find or live your purpose? EXPLORER OF FIRE (PAGE OF WANDS), Gaian tarot.

This card shows a tribe member dancing by swinging a burning pot in a rope. It’s all about taking risks just for fun, exploring something new and exciting, finding inspiration from something uncharted. This is very much what I do all the time in a mental level (research on a number of creative topics) but I also like adventurous life, trying new things and experiences. Continuing to live with this attitude clearly is beneficial to me. Thank you tarot!