Connecting with the Spirit of the Tarot
Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop--the exciting game show where crazy Tarot bloggers compete to write entertaining essays connecting Tarot with some randomly selected topic pulled from a hat. Everything you see here is improvised--written mere moments before the Hop went live. Yes, that is right--Everything is made up and the points don't matter.
|I am not saying that Drew Carey is the Spirit Animal of TBH wranglers . . . but I am not saying that he is not either.
Jay, our wrangler for this Tarot Blog Hop gave us the following prompt:
Whether you have a ritual for working with your deck(s)
Are you superstitious when it comes to letting others touch your deck
If you work with clients do you have a routine/ritual prior to a reading
Do you read for yourself / the world, if not would you ever seek guidance from them
And my response was something along the line of a scream that sounded a little like this--"I have no ritual, no routines, no superstitions. I am going to have nothing to write about. Why did I sign up when I only had seventy-two hours to figure out what I was going to write about."
So no Tarot Blog Hop post for me . . .
. . . oh wait . . .
. . . hold your applause.
That thought happened seventy-two hours ago.
Seventy-two hours--that's an Ice Age to a Tarot Blog Hopper. Whole civilization of thought have arisen, evolved, flourished, mutated, declined before disappearing into the sands of the subconscious since that initial thought. It was an epic struggle--a true survival of the fittest story--except with ideas instead of dinosaurs and empires.
These are the ideas that survived.
[For the record, that intro was written before I saw Joy's Facebook comment about waiting to see what we wrote two hours before the post goes live--by the way, it is true--the rest of this post is being written right now (I do have an outline and have done all the camera work--but everything after this point is only a loose outline), and it is now two hours before I normally go to bed. Yes, Joy was totally right--I was going to write this post at the last moment.]
|How every Tarot spread starts its life--as rough notes.
I was sitting on the porch today--having successfully completed a walk without catching the zombie pox--most of the zombies I saw were walking their dogs--the dogs do not seem to mind that it is the end of the world--where was I? Oh, on the porch--when I had a thought about what I would have to do to trust a Tarot reading done by me about a question that I really don't want to ask.
You may want to skip the next paragraph--heavens knows that I wanted to skip it--living it that is.
As some of you might know, I recently parted paths with a Wiccan church that I had attended for twenty-seven years, done an annual public ritual for twenty years, had spent nine years writing newsletter columns for, and served as a board member for seven years. Three years ago, the founder of the church died--the founder of the church was the one who suggested that I try medical marijuana for my migraines (which can plague me every day for three weeks straight), migraines that make me mean--basically, I want other people to hurt as much as I do. Explains a lot about my reputation, right? Anyways, last year (mid-August to mid-September) three of the other board members decided to weaponize my medical marijuana status. "The mere presence of a medical marijuana patient at a open Wiccan ritual puts everyone's magical and spiritual health in jeopardy--therefore, we secretly adopting a zero tolerance policy. By the way, Morgan, your medical status makes you an Empty Cup--and you need to quit being a minister--if you want to honor Alia Denny [the mother of public Wiccan ritual in Denver--RIP] and her legacy, you will leave the community and say nothing about this drama to anyone." Okay, that is a paraphrase of what was said--and what wasn't said. Of course, the biggest thing unsaid was why it took years for Cos-Neo (not their real name--no, that stands for "community service, and not elevating ourselves over others") to realize that I was dangerous and why it only happened after I attempted writing (and briefly published--sold just four copies in a hundred days) a book about the history of open Wiccan ritual in Denver, the philosophy taught by Alia Denny, and my opinions about how to best to plan and perform public ritual, including setting up an event as a community growth tool. Basically, I had to be punished and kicked out of the community because . . . my name was on the book that I wrote and not theirs. In response, to the turmoil in my head ("What if they are right--what if the mere presence of a pagan pothead could result in a cross-dimensional rip--one joint, plus one ritual, and you have the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man destroying downtown Denver"), I wrote a small one-hundred-thousand word defense (Esoteric Comedy Show) of my right to be a medical marijuana patient and a ritual working witch at the same time.
Ahh, ain't you glad that you skipped that paragraph and all its drama?
You may want to skip the next paragraph also.
So now after several months of writing (mid-December to the end of April), I now have a 100k+ manuscript--basically me retelling the story over and over again, making it funnier and funnier (some of my critics don't like the fact that I treat the time before a public ritual as my own personal open-mic night)--and the businessman in me says that I need to publish it; the minister in me says that I need to look out for the other fifteen medical marijuana patients in Denver who are no longer Real Witches--provided that there are only a thousand Wiccans in Denver (there are fifteen medical marijuana patients per every thousand people living in Colorado--fun fact); the event organizer in me (the Occult Garden Parties have existed for three years already--this would have been our fourth year), he says that I am not giving up my event--hence publish the Damn Rant!! Only problem--it might cause a new Witch War (because talking about the misdeeds of other witches is what causes Witch War--and not the actual misdeeds of other witches); therefore, a lot of one-stars will come from people who have never read the book and are overjoyed that someone after thirty-six years of trying has successfully figured out a good reason to ban me from the occult community. If I publish, I be a villain to 985 innocent bystanders--and a hero to fifteen. Ahh, what should I do???
Basically, for those who wisely skipped the preceding paragraph, do I publish a work about someone's misdeeds and risk making the entire community burn pentagrams on my lawn--or do I pretend that I never wrote it and totally deserved to be kicked out of the community.
To publish a rant and be an asshole, or not to publish and be a doormat--that be the question that has tried my soul since September.
It is especially interesting question, considering the person behind the weaponizing of my medical status started this whole drama off by insisting that business meeting of the church board were secret--even from our spouses . . . yeah, no sign of misdeed approaching at all, right?
Anyways, I am sitting on the porch today and thinking about what the RR et AC (the Inner Order of the Hermetic Golden Dawn) teaches about performing a Tarot reading for oneself when one is emotionally comprised--which is a way to connect with the spirit of the Tarot. First, one would perform the Lesser Rituals of both the pentagram and the hexagram, do the Opening of the Neophyte Grade (the home version), perform the operation of the Opening of the Key before performing the closing of the Neophyte Grade. Easey peasy, no more than an hour--hour and a half--okay maybe two hours--full kit of robes and props--totally doable.
Provided that the thought of doing the Opening of the Key doesn't drive you to despair. How does it go--Elemental sub-reading, Tree of Life sub--reading, thirty-six decans sub-reading--hey I haven't done one since the Bast Temple schism.
Of course, today I think I would use the Opening of the Portal Grade instead.
Provided that I didn't cheat and just do a ceremonial witchcraft opening to save time.
[It is now an hour before I normally go to sleep--just in case, Joy is interested in how much progress I can make on a post in an hour.]
And while I have been obsessed with the question--I have not dared to do a Tarot reading about the issue. Yes, that is right--I am indulging in the programmed habit of worrying about something that has no good (as in "perfect") solution.
The thought about what Golden Dawn taught me--don't laugh--before my entry in Golden Dawn, Tarot was a closed book to me (I could do Elder Futhark ["Norse" runes] straight from the box, no training)--for years, I couldn't read the cards. Once I learned the Opening of the Key (and had seven GD/RC initiations behind me), I could read Tarot--it was either that, or Pier Anthony's Tarot trilogy (a science fiction trilogy that really needs to be read as a single novel). Where was I? Oh yeah, thinking about Opening of the Key--I realized that I do have some habits and superstitions about the Tarot.
Such as: Don't do a reading if you are not ready to hear the answer.
Okay, in my head, the future is not fixed until you look at it. Once you look at it, that's the damn future. You could have done something about it--events and causes were mutable--and you had to screw it up and go look.
Call it Quantum Magick Philosophy. Can't really test it, but it sounds good in my head. It ties into the "Don't ask serious questions while gambling using cards"--a superstition I totally took from Last Call (Tim Powers, I think).
Two things that make me scream is people who come in asking for a Tarot reading, but are not there to figure out the best course of action--rather they want to be "given permission"--that and people who wiggly piggly shuffle my cards, so that there are upright and upside down cards.
Okay, in all fairness, I should point out that thanks to reading some modern brain research, I now know that human beings make decisions first, then we rationalize them. True story--the decision part of your brain will light up before the part of your brain devoted to rational thought--that means that if I return to fortune telling (or spiritual counseling--if I decide to keep my piece of paper that says I am a pagan minister), my job is to help the client make the best out of the decision that they already made.
Which is why there is no reason for me to do a reading on this question . . .
|This is called the Rough Idea stage of the Creative Process.
Instead of me doing a reading, let me tell you about my progress on the Samhain 2020 Tarot Blog Hop.
Yes, that is right. Some times, I plan a blog hop, or a ritual, or an event, or a story for months and months. I once did an Open Full Moon ritual; and on the way home, I had an idea for my next OFM (a year later). It is not just Pop-Up Ritual and last minute blog posts--some times I have worked on projects for ever and ever.
[At this point, I would like to mention that all this week, none of my cats wanted to be lap kitties--tonight, four different cats have tried to convince that their comfort is more important than writing this blog post.]
Last blog hop, I joked that my muse was more interested in writing about zombies than she was about doing a TBH post before it was actually due to go live. Jay commented that zombies would be a good theme for the Samhain Tarot Blog Hop--and so I signed up for the October TBH. Which will have something to do with zombies--or favorite Halloween themed--or something undead.
One idea that I have is perhaps doing a few zombie themed Tarot cards. I doubt that I would have the patience, or the art skills, to do an entire deck of 78 cards, but it is fun to think about.
When I am connecting a project with the Tarot--being a working creative--I have a Habit called the Idea Mill. Basically, I try to deed my muse hints of what I would like to work on next. My muse, who seems to be some variation on Artemis and acts often just like a wilful fairies queen, sometimes gets the hint--other times, I will find myself working on something completely different.
But I am trying to crank something out Tarot--with zombies--so the input is Tarot and zombies.
I have printed out the Golden Dawn (Rosicrucian) keywords, along with their astrological correspondences. I also leafed through the pictures of the A. E. Waite (Rider) Tarot deck because the artwork done by Pamela "Pixie" Smith is the base imagery that is more or less, our baseline image set. It may surprise some to hear that I am doing these things, instead of relying on memory, but I want to focus on the creative end of the job. Making creative decisions is hard enough work without also having to strain my tired brain trying to remember what a particular Tarot card looks like.
I am now at the stage where I am jotting down ideas--the more ideas the better--I am not after the Right Idea; I am after Interesting Ideas. Each card is a whole story; a lifetime contained in one picture, and my task is to figure out which stories I am excited to tell.
And that should have been my blog post . . .
|Cleaned up and made easier to read.
. . . damn it, I thought about what type of spread I would use to answer the question that I keep "grinding" in my head.
So I tend not to do Tarot readings for myself. For instance, I keep trying to apply logic and good business practices to my little "to publish, or not to publish" question. Unfortunately, they keep clashing with my assumptions about what pagan ministry should look like and the desire not to be the one who throws the match that starts the Second Denver Witch War. I don't need to do a reading--if only because I am not sure that I am ready to hear the answer.
[Joy--normally at this point, I would be going to bed--not tonight . . . ]
But I have gotten into this habit of doing readings for myself during the Tarot Blog Hop. I have considered what layers of answers I would want to check with a reading, and I guess I should bite the bullet and do the reading.
Not that it is going to change my mind--I already know what I am going to do. I am going to risk pissing off 985 pothead phobia suffering witches, just to argue that fifteen witches should not be banned sight-unseen simply because they share a medical condition with me. I know it--hell, given the cry for secrecy, the person who decided to weaponize my medical marijuana status, she knew that sooner or later I would be telling my side of WTF?!?
But hey, I have thought about a spread, did a rough drawing of the spread I would use, adjusted it--moved stuff to their proper side of the diagram--I have a permanent Hebrew Tree of Life burned into my brain--limiting factors go to the left of the reading; expansive forces go to the right, with balance down the middle.
So I just as well pull out my cards and see what ones hop out at me, right?
|Okay, I thought about doing a reading--so I did.
What set things off--Knave of Wands--okay, I will admit that I did not ask for permission to do the Public Ritual book. I didn't realize that I had to--after all, I have been writing about the occult since 1996. Never had to ask for permission before. I was merely writing it because I wanted to put some of my opinions about public ritual and Wicca down on paper--but I guess that all good witches have voted that pagan potheads are not allowed to speak as Authorities and Experts.
How the community will see the drama--Last Judgment--yeah, I can see the knee-jerk defense coming--"Oh those fifteen people shouldn't have been allowed to ever be Wiccans in the first place--it is unfair for Morgan to talk about Cos-Neo in a negative fashion--Cos-Neo has helped so many people enter the Wiccan community--what's the harm of fifteen people being barred from attending ritual?" Oh yeah, I am so going to be burned by the community (especially its leadership) if I dare tell my side of the story. It is just too bad that I feel robbed of friends and community--but hey, I totally deserve to be burned because I am a pagan pothead, right?
[I think you can see why I was avoiding reading my cards--the inside of my brain kinda looks like a smoking crater at the moment--it is just too bad that I am some form of mutant cockroach who hasn't gotten the hint that he was unwanted for thirty-six years. Why would this drama result in a different outcome?]
How I saw the drama--Ace of Cups--a month after missing a business meeting, being abused, being accused of conflict-of-interest, elevating myself over others, and disrespect--not that any of that had anything to do with the real need to kick me out of the community--my medical marijuana use. Did you know that a single medical marijuana patient attending an open Wiccan ritual with you, could result in you being admitted to the funny farm. Yes, that is right--thirty years of learning to do magic while being an undiagnosed sufferer of bipolar is completely and totally voided by me smoking the occasional joint to take the edge off of my panic attack and migraines. Starting with the declaration that my ritual had to be prescreened (something that was never done in the twenty years that I have been doing ritual for this event), and ending with them arguing that I was Empty Cup (something I did not learn for a month)--I have never felt so insulted in my life. And when I read the Empty Cup argument, I decided to resign, rather than put up with years of abuse.
How Cos-Neo sees the drama--Queen of Swords--okay, I will admit that this brings me no closer to understanding their viewpoint. But given that this is the Third Wave of Critics demanding that I leave the community since Alia Denny died, I know how I want to read it.
Hopes and fears (which I learned from Timothy to place on its side--because the two are always connected)--Seven of Wands--What I fear is starting a Witch War (even if I think that the Second Denver Witch War started the day after Alia died). What I hope for is that the leaders of other events locally think twice before adopting a Zero Tolerance policy. But either way, I have to defend myself--the only question is how much damage is it going to cause to my reputation. Oh wait, it doesn't matter--I already been banned from a community that I was a member of for twenty-seven years--I don't really have anything left to lose--so Game On!
Me (okay, I didn't define it well before pulling out cards--I think that this is effect on me, or maybe what is best for me--who knows)--Tower--totally a Lightning Blasted Tower moment. Did I mention that I am no longer allowed to attend an open ritual event that I had been attending regularly for twenty-seven years? But my wife, Khari, thinks that this is good for me--because she feels that I outgrew the church ages ago--and that these women never liked me in the first place (I thought that they were my friends). Hell, me deciding to be an advocate for pothead pagans might be the cause I need to create superfans--well, fifteen of them.
Khari (my wife)--Ten of Cups--my wife was so pissed at the timing of Cos-Neo's meltdown. She was finishing her last semester (second Masters degree) at Regis University. And all the voices from my abusive childhood were in full-force. This was her first taste of Witch War--and she never wants to deal with this level of drama ever again.
Business (the only thing that should matter when it comes to publishing my defense--does it help or hurt my author brand)--Ten of Pentacles--one of the things that makes me laugh about this whole mess is that I was subjected to a Disc World assassination (Terry Pratchett knew his College Politics) over a book that only sold four copies during the hundred days that it was available for sale (I had already unpublished it for quality control reasons when this drama erupted). My MDE author brand has never been a profitable one--all my secret pennames do better. Instead of four copies, could I sell ten copies of my little 100k rant?
Hierarchy of Spirits (what would Alia want me to do)--Hermit--I am not sure how to read this one. Shine a light on things? Or shut the fuck up?
Community (what is best for the community)--Knight of Cups--again, it is late, and I am incapable of figuring out what this card is trying to tell me.
What am I going to do (as if there is any doubt given my past Great Gherkin Watchdog days)--Knave of Chalices--go out on stage with a glass of wine and start talking. It is sad, but I suspect that the Cos-Neo is going to become one of my signature stories--the type of stuff that I would talk about as a public speaker provided that there were conventions for people who were pagan potheads--the type of drama that I could use to describe the Proper Community Growing Philosophy, egregor mechanics, and how to make a bad business decision for idiotic reasons (sorry--I don't think that insecurity is a good reason to assassinate someone--or at least not a good enough reason to weaponize someone's medical condition).
What I should do--Wheel of Fortune--the book is written; why not publish it and see if readers buy it. Let the market decide. I can always take it down in a year or two (or whenever I can bring myself to finish the damn Public Ritual book that I being punished for writing). And who knows--maybe there are far more pagan potheads out there than even I think there are.
What I shouldn't do--Three of Cups--what I shouldn't do is the one thing that all my public ritual experience (under Alia's "There is plenty of work for anyone who wants to step up--cooperation, not competition" philosophy) tells me that I need to do--make peace--admit that the Imperious Trip was totally right to kick me out, admit that this was about community service (they were really concerned about the safety of the community, despite having three whole years to address this issue, it is only coincidence that I went from being an accepted member of the community to the greatest danger that that occult world has ever seen--lunatic asylums are fulled with the causalities from my pot-fueled rituals), and admit that it was only coincidence that the Public Ritual book was briefly published (only ten days live--ninety days presale) before they finally addressed their fears about what I might accidentally do during a ritual. The community, especially the Trio, are going to argue that it is my duty to the community to make peace with the actions of the Righteous Threesome, and that I should accept my proper place--an exile who will never be allowed back in the community because he values his medical marijuana more than he does the experience of proper Wiccan ritual.
So them are the cards I pulled.
I know that they are the right cards--but it may take me years to understand what they were trying to tell me.
|The idea is to make sure that my notes are readable--I should have snapped a second shot of the top half of the reading.
|Bottom half--actually used the second shot I took. Remember, the idea is to be able to remember what the cards were--otherwise how are you going to score yourself?
For those of you who are curious, the dreaded book (a rant full of tangents and shaggy dog stories) is probably going to be published simply because I refuse to give up my own event (something that my critics have told me that I shouldn't be doing)--a social event by the way (though now that I am no longer associated with Cos-Neo, my wife will start to press for a ritual element). I was unwilling to give the Trio the right to make business, health and personal decisions for me. And I don't think that I (or anyone else for that matter) should have to hand in my Witch card simply because my medical marijuana use makes a good weapon to use against me.
|This is officially the longest rant I have ever written--about to go into formatting--release . . . maybe June 1.
Thanks for listening. See you next Tarot Blog Hop. Stay safe--don't lick the zombies.
[Joy--and a hour and a half after I would normally go to bed--I am done. Yes, I do some of my best work after the deadline has passed.]